I will be looking at how the menstrual cycle throughout Western texts including art, literature, and visual culture and how the use of texts (religious, scientific, literary, advertising rhetoric) and visual culture (art and advertising) construct and manipulate perceptions and opinions about women, their bodies, and their sexuality. The mythologies created in culture will be examined along with their relation to the commercial and the rituals of individuals. Focus will be on the 60s and 70s onwards, with a glance at historical texts for background information.
The commercialization of these myths through the creation of the Feminine Hygiene Industry created the term and idea of “Feminine Hygiene” for its own existence and to make money off of women’s bodies. In England, such products are taxed as luxury items. The menstrual cycle is something that affects most women with female reproductive systems. The cycle is just as natural and occurs just as automatically as excretion. Ironically, toilet paper, soap, and toilet covers are provided for free in most public toilets, while feminine hygiene products remain inaccessible or are cooped up in a small box that accepts only cash in exchange.
Accordingly, of particular interest will be third-wave feminism and movements that are advocating display and pride in menstrual cycles (i.e. making it fashionable to have a stain) rather than shame, and menstrual anarchy which involves leaving free Feminine Hygiene products in public toilets. Additionally, I am interested in making this thesis interdisciplinary by including a visual essay, poetry, an exhibit, and a campaign component.