Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Blood on Screen: Menstrual Movies

September 17th, 2009 by Giovanna Chesler

Despite the shame of menstruation, feminist media makers have often turned to the cycle for inspiration. At the 2009 Spokane Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference, I curated a screening of short films on the menstrual cycle. Over the next few weeks I will blog about these films. From there, I’ll regularly review film works made on and about the cycle.

These works fascinate me as they diversely render menstruation. In the words of fellow SMCR blogger, Elizabeth Kissling from her book Capitalizing on the Curse, “There is no shortage of blood in US Mass Media: News broadcasts nightly reveal the blood of violent conflict; movies display gallons of simulated blood in simulated explosions and attacks… But menstrual blood is never seen and seldom mentioned; acknowledgment of the fact that women menstruate remains rare. Menstruation is our ‘dirty little secret.” These films put blood back on screen and re-imagine blood as non-violent. Despite visualizing blood, however, these films see menstruation diversely. There is no single essential menstrual experience when these films are viewed together.

The film program included works by celebrated experimental feminist filmmakers Zeinabu irene Davis (Cycles, 1989) and Barbara Hammer (Menses, 1974) as well as new pieces by upstart filmmakers Marina Shoupe (Bounce, 2007) and Angelique Smith (MENstruation, 2008). To see these films, you will need to contact the makers and I will include links to their sites when they have them. However, to begin this blog theme, I’ll tell you about one work that has a maker I have yet to identify, but which is readily available for viewing. And I will call the piece “Menstruation Animation” (though after the screening, everyone called it “Blob.”

If you type “menstruation” into You Tube, this video is first to appear. This is an animated play on the classic sex-ed films which relentlessly detail the release of the egg and its journey to the uterus. However, this egg squeals with fear as it travels. It clutches the uterine wall, begging not to go as a chorus of “blob”s begins. What strikes me are the male voices singing “Blob. Blob. Blob.” And their goatee-d visages! This short animates the body as a trans-gendered space, and the cycle as a trans-event. With humor. Not derision.

If you wish to have your film reviewed on the blog, please mail it to me on DVD or VHS to: Giovanna Chesler, Marymount Manhattan College, 221 E 71st Street, New York, NY 10021.

  

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