Hope of Failure: Subverting Disgust, Shame and the Abject in Feminist Performances with Menstrual Blood

Freyja Jonudottir Barkadottir

“Terrified, because I associated menstruation with inconvenience and with shame.”

“Ashamed of my menstruating body, I kept it a secret from my peers for years. Every month, the experience of menstruation came with hiding pads, tampons and menstrual leaks from the people around me.”

“Then a few years ago I accidentally bought a pack of lemon scented tampons. Mainstream marketing of a product this useless (and perhaps directly harmful because of the chemicals used) says a lot about the current “menstrual culture” (Kissling, 2006) where menstruation is dominantly considered as something to be concealed. This was a moment when it became evident to me personally that there are mechanisms in society that consider menstruation only as something to be silenced. As something shameful. Injecting artificial lemon scent into a tampon will never make the vagina or the used tampon smell like perfume,  I am sure. It was evident that the only purpose of this then is to remind people who menstruate that this bodily mechanism needs to be concealed.”

TO READ A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF THE EFFECTS OF OPPRESSION PERSONALISES THESE ISSUES, TAKING THEM OUT OF THE ‘SOCIAL INJUSTICE’ CATEGORY AND INSTEAD MOVING THEM INTO A VERY DIRECT ISSUE – MANY WOMEN COULD WRITE SIMILAR ACCOUNTS, PULLING THE EXPERIENCES TOGETHER INTO A VERY STRONG ARGUMENT THAT NO ONE IS DETACHED FROM THESE ISSUES AND THAT EVERY WOMAN HAS OR WILL EXPERIENCE THIS OPPRESSION

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