Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Who in their right mind wants to read about menstruation?!?

October 27th, 2009 by Elizabeth Kissling
From November 2009 Redbook magazine

From November 2009 Redbook magazine

Well, we do, of course. But the editors of Redbook magazine assume that the topic is not of even the slightest interest to their readers.

The clipping at the left is from the November, 2009, issue, which I found at my neighborhood laundromat. It’s from a larger sidebar that lists three books for the month with capsule reviews: Lit by Mary Karr is headed “With the Club”; Lauren Grodstein’s A friend of the family is headed “In the Tub”; and Elissa Stein and Susan Kim’s Flow: The cultural history of menstruation receives the heading “One to Snub”. In case the text is too small or the image isn’t visible in your browser, the review reads as follows:

You welcome it, bemoan it, or just live with it. However you feel about your period, we’re pretty sure most of you would rather spend your cash on a three- to five-day supply of Ben & Jerry’s than this 250-plus-page tome that teaches you about menstruation in the animal kingdom and the origin of tampons.

Apparently Redbook editors know their readers; one only has to travel about 15 pages further into this issue to find the featured cover story about questions you’re too embarrassed to ask your doctor. You know, questions about periods and other things down there.

13 responses to “Who in their right mind wants to read about menstruation?!?”

  1. Betsy says:

    That is too funny!

  2. Elissa Stein says:

    The letter I just sent to the editor:

    I just read the review of FLOW: the Cultural Story of Menstruation in your latest issue. How appalling that a magazine for women could be so dismissive about a process that affects, in some way, whether big or small, every single one of your readers. A book about women for women to empower and education was reduced to animal reproduction and tampons? And then your writer assumes women would rather binge on ice cream rather than learn something about their bodies? Obviously no one there actually read the book.

    Your assumptive negative mindset is exactly why we wrote FLOW. All I can say is I feel nothing but sorry for your poor readers.

    Elissa Stein

  3. Lexie Borhi says:

    This is just another one of many reasons why I don’t read Redbook. I have distant memories from my childhood of it being an “old lady” magazine that was talking down to the new liberated woman of the 70s as if we were still in the 1950s. Obviously, they still have the same editors there!

    Thank goodness for Elissa Stein and Susan Kim who not only had the genius to write such a book, but to cleverly and stylishly slap away all our fears of “that time of the month”. BRAVO!!!

  4. Tony Buchsbaum says:

    As someone who has reviewed books regularly for the past 30 years, the one-word review I’d give your review of FLOW is: pathetic. I’d wonder if anyone at Redbook actually read FLOW, but the larger question is really whether or not anyone at Redbook is truly interested in an intelligent, provocative, even artistic look at what is perhaps the largest perpetration of crap (if you will) the women’s movement (if you will) has ever seen. Of course, their non-review answers the question, doesn’t it. Redbook, shame on you. It’s one thing to perpetrate crap; it’s much worse to see it and claim ignorance. Then again, at least *that* claim is accurate.

  5. Chris Bobel says:

    Well, I can’t resist… REDbook is clearly not worthy of its name.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cara , elissastein, Cheryl Ives, re:Cycling, re:Cycling and others. re:Cycling said: New post at re:Cycling – Who in their right mind wants to read about menstruation?!? #humor #irony #books […]

  7. Molly says:

    I want to read about menstruation! But then, I don’t read Redbook … so maybe I’m not exactly their target audience here … (Ah, well. Feminist scholars so rarely get the love from women’s magazines. Sucks.)

  8. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    It will be interesting to see what kind of reception FLOW gets in other ladymags. Historically, REDBOOK has positioned itself as a magazine for young, modern, married women and tried to carve a space in between the group of magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal, which skew toward an older readership, and the other ladymags for young single women, such as Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Glamour, etc. So with REDBOOK indicating its readers aren’t so modern, I’ll be curious to see what the other ladymags say.

    (Yes, I have an unhealthy interest in magazines of all kinds. Don’t judge me.)

  9. Chella says:

    Chris, haven’t you heard? Redbook are allegedly about to rebrand themselves as ‘Mysterious, Euphemstic Blue Liquid’Book!


  10. Chris Bobel says:

    And from now on, your subscription arrives at your house in a “specially-designed rustle-free wrapper”

  11. Elissa Stein says:

    With a prepackaged wipe, to make sure everything stays shower fresh.

  12. […] got to talking about this again today (don’t miss the comments), and Sarah and I have put together our own response. […]

  13. […] go?—and money issues—why is toilet paper free in a public restroom and tampons not?Redbook is getting some heat for asserting that most women would rather gorge on […]

Readers should note that statements published in Menstruation Matters are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.