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One Man’s Menstruation

June 7, 2009

A friend recently asked me for sanitary pad. Part of me wanted to get angry and say “why would you ask a guy for that kind of thing?!”; but then I realized that menstruation doesn’t need to be gendered. Sure, all sanitary napkins are marketed towards women, but when have (most) publicists ever been gender-savvy?

I’m not especially proud of having periods, but I am trying to reconstruct them into gender-neutral occurrences; a side-effect of having a uterus (and low testosterone levels). Having a uterus isn’t half bad if it brings the possibility of giving birth, and having a vagina can definitely be fun. I don’t know if I’ll ever want a penis –more on that later–, but I definitely want to keep my vagina.

This all reminds me of the Ani DiFranco song, Blood in the Boardroom, about menstruation:

i say it ain’t no hassle no it ain’t no mess
right now it’s the only power that i possess
these businessmen got the money
they got the instruments of death
but i can make life i can make breath

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Malcolm permalink
    June 7, 2009 5:33 pm

    I’m glad you can look at it that way…. I personally hate it, and have since I got it over a decade ago. It’s an unpleasant surprise every time it occurs (which is what, at least 200 times?).

  2. June 7, 2009 7:22 pm

    Excellent. I’m glad I read this today; I missed my period, and thought ’twas done for good, and then I got it this morning (boo) but reading this made me feel better about it. As a person who wants to eventually have biological children, I understand it as a necessity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a hard time understanding why it HAS to happens.

  3. genderkid permalink*
    June 7, 2009 7:37 pm

    I’m happy this post made you feel better; and I have agree, periods make me go “boo” as well. I think many/most women feel the same way, though; it’s simply a bothersome occurrence. I’m just trying to masculinize/queerify it so it becomes less of a gender issue.

    And Malcolm, oh lordy! 200 times! If I start to do math around menstruation it’s just overwhelming (the amount of time one spends feeling uncomfortable, etc).

  4. June 8, 2009 4:46 pm

    umm hi genderkid, long time lurker here. I’m Christina, I live in greece, am a post-op (what the hell does that even mean) transdyke and I identify as queer. I’m really impressed with your blog.

    Umm.. This post, is another example of the sort of thinking I love. It’s down to earth, completely disregards essentialism and gender norms, and it’s like you’re saying “hey, this is my experience, and I’m a guy, therefore my experience is to be included into male experiences”.

    Umm some women don’t feel periods are bothersome occurences. Some would be glad to have any at all (myself included, a few years ago). I’ve learned to accept and perhaps rationalize, but it’s an issue that everyone connects with gender so much.

    I always carry a napkin with me, because even my own female-bodied friends forget I’m not cisgender. Because a female phenotype means uterus and ovaries, period. Er.. Pun?

    oh and thanks for being there ^-^

    • June 8, 2009 8:20 pm

      Gee, thanks, Christina!

      I think it’s very kind of you to carry pads for your friends. One of the reasons I don’t mind so much when someone asks me for a sanitary napkin is that it’s nice to be able to help a friend. There’s something about brothersisterhood in that (I used to think it was sisterhood, but it doesn’t have to be gendered; it’s really about community).

      I am aware of the fact that periods are important and welcome for many women; the equivalent of our “trans women” * in some cultures even do ritual bleedings every month. I was trying to say that periods can be annoying for some people no matter what their gender is; some of my cisgender female friends don’t like having theirs, either.

      (PS: I’ve been looking at your work at deviantart: it’s awesome!)

      *The quotation marks mean that I don’t know the proper name for this sort of woman in other cultures and, although I don’t want to impose foreign identities on them, I don’t know how else to call them without getting into lengthy explanations. Maybe that’s just because gender does need lengthy explanations.

      • Andy permalink
        June 18, 2009 2:36 am

        A gay (cis)male friend of mine in high school used to keep pads and tampons in his locker for his female friends. It seemed natural to him, just because he saw it as a natural function, not a weird gender thing. It didn’t make sense to him for them to have to whisper to each other to find one, when obviously the need was rather immediate.

        I think he also enjoyed the odd looks he got from other people who just didn’t get it.

  5. Jen permalink
    June 13, 2009 4:55 pm

    Hi, I came to your blog via womanist-musings.

    This was a great post to read! You do a wonderful job disrupting those assumed boundaries of “man” and “woman”.

    I love my period. It’s been annoying (and ridiculously painful) at times. But for the most part, I’ve always loved it. I love that I can read my body and know when it’s going to start. It’s a powerful feeling.

    • genderkid permalink*
      June 13, 2009 5:51 pm

      Thanks for the praise, Jen!

      I’m glad you enjoy your period; it’s nice to hear from someone who likes it.

  6. Sui permalink
    June 13, 2009 6:05 pm

    I’m very neutral about mine, I just plain don’t care about it. The only part I care about is the excruciating cramps part. I could do with out those.

  7. Andy permalink
    June 18, 2009 2:30 am

    I mostly hate mine because it’s not regular. My estrogen levels aren’t normal… which on the one hand tells me “it’s not just your brain that leans male…” but on the other is a total pain. I should be on birth control pills, for several reasons, but it just feels so weird to me to be on estrogen-based hormone pills when I want to have male-normative hormone levels.

    Also: As much as I wish I had a penis, I wouldn’t go through surgery for it unless I knew I could keep my vagina. Makes my “gay” sex a lot easier.

  8. Tomatl permalink
    September 18, 2009 3:19 am

    Hi! I love your blog. This post is amazing. I agree in reconstructing menstruation as a gender neutral occurrence. I feel the same way about birth. Giving birth is the most gender transcending warrior like event possible, and we cover it in all this gendered crap. I totally get why it is, I mean after being oppressed by the patriarchy women want to have something special and magical to claim as their own (or put more vulgarly and simply: girls rule boys drool) but I think this way of thinking serves no one, and in fact hurts all of us.

    • March 20, 2010 3:33 am

      My thoughts exactly Tomatl. I was in a discussion group with a dozen transmen and transwomen. I was the only one that could see pregnancy as a gender neutral occurrence. I’m multigendered and live in that space between traditional “male” and “female” roles in society so it made me very angry and I felt not welcome in the group.

      btw…. i can’t stand having my period. It makes me feel embarrassed, but I guess seeing it as gender neutral might help! Thanks for the post genderkid!

  9. July 20, 2010 10:35 am

    this is a great post and if you ever wanted to write more on this subject, or any one else, visit our blog Seeingred Project, which visually explores menstruation. we need bleeders of all genders to contribute.

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