Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Adventures in Menstruating cycles through New York

April 14th, 2010 by Giovanna Chesler
Sarah Thomasin at Bluestockings, photo by Chris Bobel

Sarah Thomasin at Bluestockings

Last Sunday evening, at the Lower East Side bookstore (and feminist Mecca) Bluestockings, Chella Quint attempted to begin her 5th installment of a performance built from her zine Adventures in Menstruating. However this piece, Here’s The Science Bit, was quite rudely interrupted by Mother Nature, in tweed, presenting a pink and red wrapped box. Mother Nature who typically appears in Tampax adverts, exclaimed “It’s your monthly gift!” Chella seemed pleased to accept it. This confused the woman. “But…but, she stammered. It’s your monthly gift?!” Chella reminded her that she was quite happy taking it, thank you very much, and proceeded to open up the box (wondering why boxes are a running theme in fem care advertising.) For the next hour, as the paper flew and big red bows zoomed around the room, the gifts kept coming from Chella and co-performer, Sarah Thomasin, now donning lab coats.

Chella (a contributor to this blog) and Sarah’s writing on the fem care industry is spot on. Since 2005, they have produced the zine and now a blog which attempt to poke and prod the hawkers of pads and tampons out of their shameful marketing strategies. This evening they re-examined ads from the 1950’s for Zonite, a douche so powerful yet “safe to tissues” (??!) and Modess, a menstrual product pre-wrapped (i.e. disguised) in plain brown packaging. Of course, as Quint pointed out, the only other product to be wrapped in this manner were bombs.

Chella Quint and Sarah Thomasin

Chella Quint and Sarah Thomasin

In another hilarious bit, Quint played a Mooncup while Sarah proclaimed “I’m a tampon!” They argued back and forth of their varying abilities to collect and discard menstrual blood. However, The Tampon had to leave the conversation mid-sentence, only to be replaced by another Tampon who had not been part of the initial conversation with Mooncup. This happened thrice over (though of course, this would happen thousands of times over in a 10 year period, the typical lifetime of a menstrual cup, wherein the average woman would cycle through approximately 2,750 tampons.)

Adventures in Menstruating on S.H.A.M.E., photo by Chris Bobel

Adventures in Menstruating on S.H.A.M.E., photos by Chris Bobel

To combat the side effect of pop culture’s representations of menstruation, S.H.A.M.E. (Shame, Horror, Ads/Media, Erasure) Quint presented a takeaway for the evening – The Stain. The latest in fashion, Stains are red felt blobs akin to blood stains which you adhere to the front of your clothing (at your crotch) or at the back side. As Chella and Sarah presented their gift they praised the product “The best defense against stains is a healthy dose of shamelessness!” Several attendees wore their stains out the door, proudly walking down the street impervious to shame-induced fear and carried forth the overall feeling of Adventures in Menstruating – high brow and low brow at the same time.

3 responses to “Adventures in Menstruating cycles through New York”

  1. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Oh, this sounds absolutely delightful! What a great show. Chella, Sarah, when can I expect the west coast tour to hit my city?

  2. Great networking possibility for many of us:

    From their Adventure in Menstruating website:

    We’d particularly welcome an email if you:

    * are involved in a similarly-themed project or are interested in this one and want to chat or collaborate
    * have something to contribute to the zine (writing, art, interview, ad analysis)
    * would like us to test a product or review a menstrually-themed performance or publication
    * want to invite us to perform at your event or venue
    * distro the zines already or want to do so in the future
    * would like to publish something we’ve written
    * are researching attitudes toward menstruation or menstrual activism

    — Cool!

  3. Chella says:

    Thanks for the awesome review, Giovanna. 😀 It was so much fun meeting Giovanna and Chris, and I hope to meet more of the Menstruati next time (although I really do love my pet name for us – The Twat Pack – which makes more sense in a British accent). I’m totally serious about people who fit that venn diagram above getting in touch with us. You’d be very welcome to contribute to the zine. Hope to hear from you, Menstrual Monday! 😀


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.