I often hear women state that men would be uncomfortable if they overheard our discussion of menstruation. Many women work to keep men out of the menstruation conversation. But… surprise! Men are ready to participate. And very often, I hear men say that they want to learn more about menstruation. In studies by Jane Ussher and Jane Perz they found that women in lesbian relationships that are more egalitarian, empathetic and satisfying have different PMS experiences than women whose male partners misunderstand their PMS symptoms. That is partially because their lesbian partners understand the experiences of menstruation, even if they do not share the same symptoms. Imagine, straight ladies, if a male partner were also aware of your PMS symptoms through the information you impart? And that through this conversation and hopefully, through different behavior on his part, you could potentially change your PMS experience?
Or…what if he understands those symptoms through his own experience?! Last year, Angelique Smith, then a student at Marymount Manhattan College in a course called Social Construction and Images of Menstruation (co-taught by David Linton and myself) made MENstruation. This video was inspired by Gloria Steinem’s 1978 Ms. Magazine article “What if Men Could Menstruate?”. As Smith asks her participants Steinem’s question, “What if men could menstruate,” their answers reveal much about cross-gender consciousness. It screened as part of the Blood on Screen series at the Spokane SMCR conference.