...only this had nothing to do with Disneyland.
I went to a screening of a film about menstruation. It was interesting, I guess. I’ll hold off on critical analysis for a moment, but I’ll start with an observation - people in the “real world” are not used to talking about the nitty gritty of their bodily functions in public. The number of times I had to restrain myself from saying things like “I need to run to the bathroom and see if I’m still spotting” was boggling. (Actually, I was restraining myself from having any sort of deep conversation - I was trying to be in small-talk mode. Didn’t completely work, though I only shared my deeper analysis with a tiny group of people, two of whom I don’t even know that well...)
The film is, as I said, about menstruation. Specifically, it centers loosely around the question of menstrual suppression - using Depo Provera or continuious BCPs to reduce the number of bleeds. My first bafflement of the evening was the realization that lots and lots of women don’t understand how their bodies work. Women don’t realize that the period they’re having when they’re on “regular” BCPs isn’t really a period at all, but just withdrawal bleeding. They don’t investigate the future health ramifications of Depo. Many of them wish they could just stop getting their period all together.*
What I found most disturbing was the absense of attention to the concept of fertility. I don’t just mean that they failed to mention the potential after-effects of something like Depo on a woman’s fertility, but that the notion that menstruation is tied to reproductive functioning seemed like it was missing from the film. How do you talk about menstruation without acknowledging its link to fertility and reproduction? Many (most?) women use BCPs and other forms of monthly or longer menstrual control/suppression not to rid their bodies of menstruation, but as contraception.
Another angle on the same point: Getting a period means (in most cases... there are exceptions... standard disclaimers apply... blah, blah, blah) that you’re not pregnant. If you’re 17, that period after you missed a pill is probably a big relief. If you’re 27 (or whatever) and TTC, that period is like a punch in the gut. Both mean you’re not pregnant, but not being pregnant signifies different things to different people.
Obviously, I don’t expect the filmmaker to have incorporated every aspect of menstruation in the film. That just wouldn’t be feasible. But I do think that some general reference to the notion that periods are inherently linked to women’s reproductive functioning might have been in order. I’m just saying.
Now I need to run to the bathroom and see if my period is really starting so we can get this show on the road.
* I certainly understand that there are circumstances (fibriods, endo, and the like) that would warrant menstrual suppression. But lots of women just don’t want the bother, which seems very different to me. Not inherently bad (though I fought so hard to get my body to have periods that it’s a bit foreign) but very different.