Menstruation and Birth Control: Ain’t I A Woman?

After finishing the two latest installments on my Fall reading list (Flow: A Cultural History of Menstruation and The Birth House) – both of which had to do with the beauty of the female body and its connection to nature – I’ve been feeling so interested in getting in touch with my inner mountain-woman.  You know, walking stick made out of sturdy, gnarled wood, cloistered back herb garden where I can dance naked in the moonlight.

The thing is, both Flow and another fantastic feminist manifesto I finished a few months ago – Cunt: A Declaration of Independence – emphasize how getting in touch with your menstrual cycle somehow makes you a more whole, authentic women.  For us uteri (yup, that’s the plural form – neat, huh?) on the Pill, this is kind of a big ol’ downer.

It’s as if we’ve sold out to big pharma.  Been bad feminist women, and blocked ourselves off from some primitive knowledge of and connection to our female ancestors.

But then I’m reading another book.  (As Charles William Eliot said, they really are “the most constant of friends.”)  This one – Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings – collects the voices of our early feminist heroes: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger . . . you know the gang!

And I’m reading George Sand’s diary and I’m stroking the page (which is this thing I do when I really fall in love with something in a book) when she talks about how difficult it is to be in a relationship with a man who is part of a misogynistic society.  And I’m realizing that this is how I’m connecting to my ancestors – and I’m doing it even though I popped a Pill twenty minutes ago.

Am I this?

There are always going to be too many ways your life can go – too many mutually exclusive paths that it can follow – and this leads to an overwhelming sense of ‘buyer’s remorse.  When I wasn’t on the Pill, I was embarrassed that I wasn’t part of ‘the club,’ and now that I am, I started to feel excluded from a whole other club!

Or This?

I don’t have to throw my Pills out the window, shouting “Actual reality!”  I don’t have to wash out reusable pads or stick a sea sponge (did you know these are actual life-forms, not plants?!) up my lady bits during that time of the month.  I define what it means to be a “real” woman, and I’m pretty sure that crying uncontrollably when I read Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter and analyzing the behavior of male bar-goers through the feminist lens makes me a real, live, crazy-ass woman.  Who definitely dances naked in the moonlight.


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