Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Blood on Screen: The Runaways

March 23rd, 2010 by Giovanna Chesler

Last July we posted photos from an unnamed film set where Dakota Fanning stood, ready for camera, with blood running down her thighs and a blood stain on the back of her skirt. Were these menstrual markings or the next era of horror film misogyny? The answer can be seen in the newly released film The Runaways, a drama about a 1970’s all girl rock band fronted by Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning) and guitarist, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart.)

Here, menstruation is a framing element, as the film begins with a screen sized image of a red blood drop falling to the pavement. Cut to Fanning wiping blood from her thigh in disbelief. Her sister, Marie rushes her to the bathroom to attend to their first period, for Marie whines “Everything happens to you first!” Cherie packs her undies with paper towels, ties a sweatshirt around the stain, and in stunned disbelief of what has just transpired, tags behind her sister and her sister’s creepy dude date. He leers at her, “You’re a woman now.”

Later that evening, Cherie crops her hair, paints a David Bowie red streak across her face, and begins to come into herself. Becoming a woman in this film, does not include being soft and desirable for boys. Rather, menarche signifies entrance into glam rock iconography.

As Cherie meets up with Joan, and the two launch The Runaways, Cherie’s early entrance into womanhood seems to have come too soon. Still a child, Cherie is pushed into the front of a stage and asked to groan into a mic about her bursting sexuality in the song Cherry Bomb. The demanding manager, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), yells at her to give more to the song “This isn’t woman’s lib. It’s woman’s lib-ido.”

In the coming weeks on tour, Cherie will partake in her first kiss, first sip, first line, first pill – revealing how womanhood has not “dropped” upon her. It arrives in waves through her choices, or her inability to make them. And there is still more growing to do.

5 responses to “Blood on Screen: The Runaways”

  1. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Wow! I’m even more excited to see this film now. Thanks, Giovanna!

  2. Laura Wershler says:

    Me too! I’ve always hated the use of the axiom “you’re a woman now” to mark a first period. I guess by the same logic we should all be hearing someone (mother? husband? partner? friend? doctor?) say to us “you’re not a woman anymore” when we reach menopause.

  3. I was thinking about that previous post yesterday. I thought my period had ended so I left all supplies in my car and hiked down the cliff and to the nude beach. I then spent the day jumping into the water to rinse off ever half hour or so. the people I was with were awesome about it and would just point out I needed to go wash off. though I did end up with a huge amount of laundry when I got home after sitting on my beach blanket and sarong.

    I love my bubble. everyone in it is so enlightened

  4. Heather D says:

    Wasn’t that the whole argument for hormone therapies initially? And even though menopausal women might not be hearing that from everyone, I do think it is still a lingering thought for some….

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