This Metaphorical Bar ep 13: Menstruation (Part Three)

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Note: We’re talking about menstruation over the next couple of episodes; we try to use gender-neutral language because not all women menstruate and people who menstruate are not all women. We apologize for moments when we mess that up.

Note: This is the third, and final, episode in a series about writing menstruation.

Note: There are some personal details about how each host experiences menstruation that may be considered TMI.

Who We Are

I’m Robyn Fleming, a parent and writer in Tucson, Arizona. I got my first period on my twelfth birthday. Which was also the day I got my ears pierced. It was a pretty eventful birthday.

I’m Carla M. Lee, an author, artist, and attorney living in the Midwest USA, I don’t remember when I got my first period, so instead I’ll tell you that I have a scar on my face sort of shaped like North and South America.

I’m Karen Healey, an author and teacher living in Otautahi New Zealand, and my mother said “Congratulations!” in a way that was cool but also she looked DEEPLY FEARFUL about the fact that her oldest child was now official maturing.

What We’re Drinking

Carla: unsweet iced tea in a festive red solo cup

Robyn: Mountain Dew holiday limited edition: Merry Mashup

Karen: Starbucks pumpkin spice latte from a sachet

Episode Summary

Topic: Menstruation

  • Ignorance about periods can come out in awkward ways
    • Cis guy didn’t know that the streaks in the underwear weren’t poop but were period blood
      • Some people keep specific underwear for periods because they’re already stained
    • Male reviewer of Orchid and the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes misread the unsubtle metaphors about period as the character getting a head cold
    • Male stand up comics making fun of laundry detergent ads talking about removing bloodstains — how could you get that much blood on your clothes that often? Well duh.
    • Friend of the podcast, Todd, originally misread Hidden Histories’ Elaku getting her courses to mean school classes, but then figured it out.
  • Period poverty follow up – homeless shelters, food banks, and women’s shelters can really use donations of menstruation supplies
  • Karen and Robyn intentionally put menstruation as a right of passage inside Hidden Histories.
    • Word of God: Hidden Histories includes trans characters and that will be very clear in the text, not just word of god.
  • Texts that do interesting things with menstruation
    • Lioness series (and other books) by Tamora Pierce
      • Alanna is disguised as a boy to become a knight and when she first gets her period, she is mad that no one told her about it and that she has to deal with it regularly. The fact that it’s blood doesn’t bother her, she deals with blood and violence regularly, but the ongoing dealing with it bothers her.
      • Alanna has a real worry about how she thinks she’s wounded at first but she can’t go to the palace healers because she’s supposed to be a boy and she doesn’t dare let them know that she’s actually a girl.
    • My Girl
      • Vera gets her period for the first time but has not been warned about it and ends up screaming through the house that she’s hemorrhaging. Terrifying to start bleeding when you don’t know it’s going to happen.
      • Leads to her bonding with her stepmother; bonding about it is a real life thing that happens a lot, too, people bonding in the restroom over supplies.
    • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
      • Appropriately misogynistic setting, magic in the regency period, white dudes get familiars by feeding them blood and it’s all very manly — until a young woman collects more than one familiar and it is at least heavily implied if not stated outright that she feeds them menstrual blood.
    • Pitch Black
      • Jack is disguised as a boy as they travel through space. After they’re stranded on a planet and monsters start hunting them, it comes out that the monsters are easily following them because one of the characters is bleeding. Jack knows they’re menstruating but didn’t think that was going to be the big problem. Now they’re a threat to the group and there’s debate on whether to sacrifice them or not. Hiding, something they did for safety, is now putting everyone in even more danger.
      • Tying it back to the metaphor [from a couple episodes ago], Jack is a pathetic creature and a threatening creature at the same time, both in danger and creating danger.
      • Digression about Vin Diesel turning his projects into passion projects, basically, playing up his id. Also, great face.
    • Carrie (book and movies)
      • Good and bad, she comes into her own power, and she is a tragic figure even though she kills in anger.
      • However, she also dies.
      • Robyn has concerns about King telling the story as a cis man when the story is not really his to tell, particularly because it is one of the dominant period stories of our time.
    • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
      • Briefly touching on sex and periods, Karen sings a little of the “Period Sex” song.

Things Mentioned in the Episode

  • Orchid and the Wasp Caoilinn Hughes
  • Hidden Histories by Karen Healey and Robyn Fleming
  • Lioness series (and other books) by Tamora Pierce
  • My Girl
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • Pitch Black
  • Carrie (book and movies)
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend “Period Sex”

Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Bartender

TC Harris: Robyn, how has your deep investment in flatworms changed throughout the years?

In a previous episode, Robyn talked about how she did a lot of flatworm experiments in high school. She’s no longer deeply invested in them, but she does still have feels about them and loves it when people send her links to movies or articles, etc., about them.

Find Us Online

Carla: @carlamlee on TwitterTumblrInstagram
Karen: @kehealey on Twitter, @karenhealey on Tumblr, and karenandrobyn.com
Robyn: @robyn_writing on Twitter

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