The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation

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Macmillan, May 24, 2000 - Health & Fitness - 263 pages

A provocative look at the way our culture deals with menstruation.

The Curse examines the culture of concealment that surrounds menstruation and the devastating impact such secrecy has on women's physical and psychological health. Karen Houppert combines reporting on the potential safety problems of sanitary products--such as dioxin-laced tampons--with an analysis of the way ads, movies, young-adult novels, and women's magazines foster a "menstrual etiquette" that leaves women more likely to tell their male colleagues about an affair than brazenly carry an unopened tampon down the hall to the bathroom. From the very beginning, industry-generated instructional films sketch out the parameters of acceptable behavior and teach young girls that bleeding is naughty, irrepressible evidence of sexuality. In the process, confident girls learn to be self-conscious teens.

And the secrecy has even broader implications. Houppert argues that industry ad campaigns have effectively stymied consumer debate, research, and safety monitoring of the sanitary-protection industry. By telling girls and women how to think and talk about menstruation, the mostly male-dominated media have set a tone that shapes women's experiences for them, defining what they are allowed to feel about their periods, their bodies, and their sexuality.

 

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THE CURSE: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation

User Review  - Kirkus

Who would have guessed that there are serious issues around menstruation, a bodily function that's been around since Eve got tossed from Eden? This book makes them not only clear, but urgent. Dioxin ... Read full review

The curse: confronting the last unmentionable taboo: menstruation

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Although menstruation is a normal physiological function, discussing it openly is not acceptable. Journalist Houppert examines current attitudes and their impact on women. The taboos prevent consumer ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
A Culture of Concealment
13
Revisiting Toxic Shock
29
The Stealth Campaign
36
The Plummeting Age of Puberty and the Epidemic of Teen Sex 5 5
55
Sex and the Menstrual Genre
62
The Subtext
84
Literature and the Menstrual Canon
111
The Prozac Cure
172
Whats in a Name?
179
Grrrls Speak Out
199
Monument to Menstruation
208
Power in the Blood
214
InSync Miniforms
220
Conclusion
239
Notes
245

Dr Dalton Identifies
146
The Progesterone Cure
159
Acknowledgments
255
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Karen Houppert is a freelance journalist who writes on a variety of feminist topics. She lives in New York City.

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