Guest Post by Carly Schneider, Marymount Manhattan College
Unlike a lot of my peers, my childhood history with menstruation is relatively positive. In the small, rural town in Vermont I grew up in, the topic of menstruation was dealt with early. I remember as a third grader the two or three days we spent discussing this process and the human body. I remember we all wanted to get ours- it was a sign of growing up. Of course there was the typical giggling and insecurities that often come with such discussion but then again, this was the start of being taught the societal views regarded for this biological process. This was before I was conscious of the innate inequality between men and women. It wasn’t until high school that I learned that female sexuality and body were not subjects of empowerment and confidence, but of silence and shame.
It was when I came to New York City for college that I could define my feelings as ‘feminist’- that word was practically a swear in my town- and I studied the various waves and leaders of the movement including, of course, Gloria Steinem. In my final semester of undergrad, I made it a must to sign up for David Linton’s Social Construction & Images of Menstruation course. It was the perfect ending to four glorious years of out and proud feminism. I was working on my senior thesis film at the time and knew that for my final project for his class I’d rather make something visual than write a paper. I recruited three peers: Rebecca, a fellow communications major and Mauricio and Warren, both BFA actors. Rebecca and I sat down together one night to think of ideas- what kind of project could we do with two men? My mind instantly went to Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate, a 1978 article published in Ms. Magazine. Rebecca and I came up with several scenes that were each inspired by points in her essay. Feeling inspired, I went home that night and wrote the entire script. A few weeks later, after hours of shooting, a multitude of iced coffees, and plenty of laughs, we shared with our class the video we created.
Each scene is less than a minute long and focuses on a particular point from Steinem’s article. Topics include societal shaming, marketing, product availability, synchronization, and menstrual sex. The reaction from the class was beyond inspiring and the activity on its Youtube page has been exciting. We’re already at 3,000 views and growing.
It is articles like Steinem’s that continue to empower me to feel pride for my femininity, my body, and my cycle.