Description: Menstruation Observations
Male human beings have built whole culturesaround the idea that
penis-envy is "natural" to women - though havingsuch an unprotected organ
might be said to make men more vulnerable,and the power to give birth makes
womb-envy at least logical.
In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be,
are thought to be better than the characteristics of the of the
powerless- and logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for
instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?
The answer is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy,
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood,
with religious ritual and stag parties.
Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp
out monthly discomforts.
Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some
men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John
Wayne Tampons, Muhammed Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields -
"For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.)
Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists
would cite menstruation ("MENstruation") as proof that only men could serve
in the army ("You have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political
office ("Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by
the planet Mars?"), be priests and ministers ("how could a woman give her
blood for our sins"), or rabbis ("Without the monthly loss of impurities,
women remain unclean").
Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would
insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter
their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every
month ("You MUST give blood for the revolution"),
recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness
to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment.
Street guys would brag ("I'm a three-pad man") or answer praise from a
buddy ("Man, you are lookin' good") by giving fives and saying, Yeah, man,
I'm on the rag!"
TV shows would treat the subject at length. ("Happy Days": Richie and
Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has
missed two periods in a row.) So would newspapers. (SHARK SCARE THREATENS
MENSTRUATING MEN. JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) And
movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood Brothers"!)
Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at
"that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and
therefore life itself - though probably only because they needed a good
Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical
arguements. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense
of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that
in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus
for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and
religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or
for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?
Liberal males in every field would be kind: the fact that "these
people" have no gift for measuring life or connecting the universe,
the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.