Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. I therefore thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share all my books relating to periods and celebrate the amazing women who are challenging the current system which shames, undervalues or just clean forgets about the experiences of a whole gender.
In preparation for my dissertation, I went on a second-hand shopping spree on eBay (the only type of spree I can endorse!) for books covering different aspects and experiences of mensuration. The result is this small collection which is forming the basis for my research and providing heaps of inspiration. Since leaving school, I have struggled to read a full book, but I am finding that now I am reading about a subject I care about, I can’t put them down! I wonder if it is possible to be too interested in periods?!
Here are the mini reviews:
Period by Emma Barnett – Challenges the taboo that exists around periods, drawing on experiences of different women. As an endometriosis sufferer, Barnett describes her long journey to receiving a diagnosis and the consequential fertility issues and IVF treatment. It explores periods in schools, workplaces and even religious context which made for an eyeopening read.
Vagina: A Re-education by Lynn Enright – The education we all needed about vaginas and female bodies. A mixture of opinion, research and personal experience, this book is a great overview of the misinformation and shame that is instilled in us from a young age and the negative impacts this has for society.
The Sanitary Protection Scandal by The Women’s Environmental Network – Written in the late 1980’s, this book was pioneering in highlighting the environmental and health issues linked with disposable sanitary products. Sadly, over 30 years later, many of these issues still exist but there are some fantastic campaigners who are working their socks off to change this (I will write about this soon!).
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez – Explores the gender data gap and bias that exists throughout society, from snow-clearing to healthcare. Well-researched and covers a wide variety of fascinating cases. It calls for more inclusive data collection in decision-making processes in order to create a fairer society which represents the experiences of both men and women.
The Vagina Bible by Dr Jen Gunter – Written by an American Gynaecologist, this book provides no-nonsense information on all areas of vaginal healthcare. It gives practical advice, covering common conditions and symptoms as well as dedicated chapters on topics such as periods. Here, it was highlighted that the chemicals found in menstrual products may not be as dangerous as suggested although companies lack transparency and the research is severely lacking (like so many areas of women’s health).
It’s Only Blood by Anna Dahlqvist – Investigates global experiences of period taboo through interviews with young girls and women across different countries and cultures. It reveals the universal shame and tells the stories of inspirational individuals who are fighting against it. I have only just started this but it’s packed full of insight – I’m having to put a tab on nearly every page!
Period Power by Nadya Okamoto and Periods Gone Public by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf are next to read on my list. Just ask if you would like a mini-review for these too.
We are in the midst of a global Menstrual Movement which makes it a very exciting time to be researching periods. Governments are starting to wake up and realise that female bodies have been persistently under-researched and dismissed and that it’s time to change. I am so pleased to see the UK Government is today launching a call for evidence from women about their experiences of healthcare in hope of addressing some of the inequalities that exist. Now is the chance to have your say and help make a difference. I will be submitting evidence and I urge women with something to share to do the same.