Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

The Guy with a Good Attitude Toward Menstruation

January 28th, 2010 by Chris Bobel



All this iPad humor has got us thinking about menstrual humor more generally–what’s funny (to some) what’s not (to others), why and why not.

In the end, anything-menstruation is almost always met with either

1) a shudder and a swift topic shift

OR

2) an uncomfortable laugh that reinforces once again, the menstruation-rule-we-live-by.

Then there’s our friends Chella Quint and Sarah Thomasin who brilliantly and creatively write and perform menstrual humor that is genuinely funny without being offensive to women. But their work is truly exceptional.

Usually, the humor is more like this classic from Kids in the Hall. Finally giving up the luddite’s fight, I joined Facebook this week and look what I found: this page referencing a sketch starring Dave Foley

The over-the-top earnestness of this guy is funny, sure, but that’s not all that’s going on.

Yeah—he offers a lot more appreciation for the menstrual cycle than even I aspire to– but is the premise–that a guy could offer something other than disgust (or at best, indifference) to menstruation– really that hysterical?

Granted, the concluding passage (below)had me laughing, but like most (all?) satire, after the laughs die down, I’m left wondering: why IS that funny, anyway?

And what does the success (or the failure–you decide) of the humor reveal about enduring assumptions about masculinity, women’s bodies, and heternormativity?

That’s why the woman I shall love will be able to menstruate as fully and freely as she desires. Even if her monthly flow should build in intensity to a raging rust colored torrent! An unbridled river of life giving blood flowing from between her legs! An awesome cataract plunging off the edge of our couch. I wouldn’t be phased! No, no, even if coureur de bois would come up stream, battling the rapids, and singing a ‘jaunty song’! I would take no offense, rather I would ford across that mighty womanly river, and fetch herbal tea and Pamprin. And then I would mop her brow and admire her fecundity. For I…Have A Good Attitude….Towards MENSTRUATION!

  

7 Responses to “The Guy with a Good Attitude Toward Menstruation”

  1. It is nice to hear the words even if they are said ironically.

    I I think it is funny because everyone knows that menstruation is icky, so to enjoy it is disgusting. Then over the top ending implies that the whole thing is ridiculous. Being a man and having a “good attitude towards menstruation” are supposed to be mutually exclusive categories.

    I suppose it could be read that men think that menstruation is as it is described in the last paragraph and that is why it seems so disgusting. Maybe it is suggesting that the average joe’s view of menstruation is over the top and ridiculous.

    I don’t know. I just have my doubts that the second interpretation is intended. Young men in the early nineties bringing to light how men are over the top in their disgust of our “womanly flow”? not likely.

  2. Morgan says:

    I think you have to look this sketch within the context of the whole Kids in the Hall style. They are more often making fun of the stereotypical male than anything else in their sketches, so I really don’t see this as “classic” menstrual humour. It’s not the premise that men could offer anything but disgust in regards to menstruation, that makes this sketch funny. To me they are poking fun at the kind of men who ARE disgusted by it.

  3. Chris Bobel says:

    Well, I think it is both—that is, poking fun at deviations from normative masculinity THROUGH deviations from normative views about menstruation. The effect is: what a creepy, freaky guy! Who would want to date such a guy? Gross! There’s a deep relationship between what is means to be a (real) man and cultural attitudes towards women’s bodies and I think that’s what is laid bare here.

  4. Indeed, the acceptance/love of menstruation in a man would never be considered as “normal” or what society would perceive to be a normal male attribute. I for one love the beauty in menstruation and in the past, I have had all sorts of labels assigned to me like “creepy”, “pervert”, “disgusting”, etc. Regardless though, I still enjoy learning about menstruation and speaking about it, even if I am not the owner of a vagina and menstruating uterus. It is most unfortunate that men who take the time/willingness to learn about it are tagged with nasty labels. I have at one point been very ashamed with my knowledge and love of menstruation, but over time, I have learned that it is something that I ought to be proud of that I have at least taken the chance to learn about it. Lucky for me, many of the girls I’ve had relationships with have been very accepting with my knowledge in it and a few have even “loved” the fact I took time to learn about their (female) body. However, society has a long way to go before it is “acceptable” for guys to have a rightful interest in menstruation.

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  6. Heather D says:

    What I think is also telling here is that the skit is illustrative of how conscious men are of how or when they ARE supportive. It is the interruption of the normal and, as evidenced by this skit, the interruption is often a very conscious act. You have to steel yourself against what is normal as you act against it. I just went to see Menopause: The Musical for the first time and there were probably about 20 men in the audience, along with about 1000 women. I could tell every one of those men had consciously thought about what they were doing there and how it would feel to be there. As evidenced by this skit, it is almost as if individual men have to see themselves as individual heroes of sorts, working against all odds, to support menstruation and go against mainstream masculinity? And part of the comedy is that we are supposed to think the heroes are pathetic in their crusades…

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