Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

“Widening the Cycle” Featured Artist Trio: Baker, Mohler & Tegeler

April 15th, 2015 by Jen Lewis

“Self-Preservation” by Dana Baker

 

Dana Baker

My work looks at the contradictions between the culturally sanctioned perceptions of fragile femininity and the strongly transformative and oftentimes grueling physiological experience of menstruation. With imagery that teeters between precariously contained sanitization and suppressed rage as a consequence of gendered subjugation, I aim to convey both the brutalistic realities of biological determinism (maternalistic/reproductive expectations) as well as the frustrations of a gendered body that is restricted by its edifice. My intentions are to re-contextualize menstruation as a rigorous corporeality, one which contains simultaneous emotional states of ambivalence, shame, masochiscm, elation, anxiety, dissociation, as well as a mystical kind of feral liberation. I create figures with superheroine underpinings, nodding to She-Ra and the women cartoonists movement, utilizing dark humor that celebrates the powerful and unedited mess of menstruation while also positing a strong female archtype that rejects the societally imposed physical obligations of someone who posesses a “womb.”

 

“Lunar” by Sadie Mohler

 

 

Sadie Mohler

What threatens from the outside only threatens insofar as it is already within…it is not that the abject has got inside us; the abject turns us inside out, as well as outside in.  – Sara Ahmed

 

Through my artwork I aim to directly confront the culture of disposal that surrounds menstruation. I draw on Julia Kristeva’s theory of ‘abjection’ and use visual representation to evoke an affective response. Menstrual blood is abject as it is neither subject nor object; it cannot be singularly defined because menstruation exists both inside and outside of our bodies, occupying a beautifully liminal space. This ambiguous duality triggers discomfort, disgust and the desire for disposal. However, by painting with my own menstrual blood I challenge this desire to dispose and instead celebrate the complexity and fluidity that is inherent in our periods. When painting, I strive to have as much contact with my menstrual blood as possible. I primarily use my hands, fingernails and my mouth as tools and the shape of every piece is guided by the blood’s natural viscosity. Menstrual blood is distinct as it includes uterine tissue and vaginal lining giving it a variable consistency depending on the body’s cycle. Through each piece, I strive to remove menstruation from the margins and visually center it to provoke a renegotiation of its existence.

 

“Bathroom Sculpture” by Jena Tegeler

Jena Tegeler

“Bathroom Sculpture” reimagines the culture of tampons as a playful break from the conventional attitudes of a discreetness associated with menstruation. The sculpture’s ideal hanging place in a private bathroom suggests a sincere acknowledgement of a daily activity, which may be as routine as brushing one’s teeth. The brightly colored tips of the knitted tampons shift away from the passionate, rich, representations of menstruation that seek to reclaim the natural process as something bold and powerful. Rather, these friendly tampons are made precious and in6mate in their hand-knitted softness. This is not an a>empt to erase or shame women and their body fluids by way of products with sweetly scented ointments and pink packaging. It is a celebration of many monthly encounters with these cotton forms.

 

For more information, visit www.wideningthecycle.com. For questions, please email the curator and exhibit planner, Jen Lewis, at info [at] wideningthecycle [dot] com.

  

“Widening the Cycle” Featured Artist Trio: Cardenas, Paige & Wiles

April 8th, 2015 by Jen Lewis

“Silencio de Generaciones” by Mod & Viky Cardenas

Mod & Viky Cardenas

In our culture the menstrual cycle is seen as something that should remain unspoken about, it is a taboo, something to be ashamed of and a sign of shame. Being aware of extreme situations were girls are not even permitted to go to school by their parents when they are menstruating and seeing how most women are extremely ashamed by the fact that they menstruate brought the conclusion that there is a really big problem regarding something so natural and special as the menstrual cycle, and that awareness should be raised and women everywhere need to be free from repressive stigmas brought by the constant instruction generation from generation of how menstruation is something “bad”. In cultures like ours where there is a strong “macho culture” this kind of situations led to the degradation of females of all ages and create a gap between real equality. The art pieces reflect that “generational silence” past down from mother to daughter and the “life stigma” most women are forced to live with, the intent of the art is to bring a reality to as many people as possible and demonstrate a sad truth and by the same time, hopefully, raise questions and give the spectator a chance to reformulate certain paradigms and begin change.

“Season” from Cycle of Paradise Series by Victoria Paige

 

 

Victoria Paige

This series explores the reinvention of a woman’s reproductive and sexual identity. The images display what is very much a part of everyday life. The color for this series was chosen to serve as an allusion to the pastels that are used for the marketing menstrual products; very soft pinks, blues, purples, and oranges. I adopted the characteristics way marketing agencies present menstruation, but use it in a way that can show beauty in something that is traditionally regarded as slightly repugnant. The juxtaposition of pleasant colors and uncensored presentation of flesh and blood is essential to the images. In this way, my hope is to demonstrate that flesh, blood, and normal bodily process, can be perceived as something beautiful.

 

 

“Supergrover” from 52 Ladies at Tea Series by Deb Wiles; Photo Credit: Hailey Kuckein

Deb Wiles

“52 Ladies at Tea” came from an emotional place. That is, I didn’t begin with the intention to produce it, but was led by the piece itself. Production of the work began a discourse with women I knew and new ones I met about how they felt about their vulva and their sexuality. Response to the work, that of the models and the audience becomes part of the work.

 

It has long discomforted me that society shames (us) women when we make choices for ourselves regarding our bodies and our sexuality. Our bodies belong to us. It is our right to choose for ourselves. Choose when we want to have sex and with whom, if and when we want to marry, and if, when and with whom we want to bear children. Indeed these decisions belong to individual women. They do not belong to our fathers or our husbands or our lovers. We choose. For women there is a great deal of power in sexual autonomy.

 

Shame has long been used as a tool to control women’s sexual expression (and our behavior in general). This project is an investigation into the shame we women internalize about our bodies and our sexualities in order to survive in patriarchy. Some people may well feel that in North America, after so many decades of feminism that we are well beyond feeling this sort of shame, but I beg to differ with those people and encourage them to look at things from a more global perspective rather than an ethnocentric one. Currently we live in a global cultural climate wherein some countries, women are undergoing involuntary female infibulation while others are ‘voluntarily’ paying to have surgery on their vulvae so that their genitals will look ‘prettier’, a standard that has been set by heavens knows what, but certainly the criterion has nothing to do with reality or love.

Taxing the Period

April 6th, 2015 by David Linton

Photo courtesy Canadian Menstruators

It seems that Canadian menstrual activists are way out ahead of those in the US with a drive to eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products.  I understand that this issue has come up previously at the Provincial level in Manitoba and British Columbia, but this is a nation-wide drive.

The topic of menstruation is so delicate in the US that it’s unlikely that any party or mainstream candidate would sign on to support a bill to eliminate menstrual sales taxes at any level.  It would surely invite ridicule and smarmy commentary from the uptight media pundits and politicians who run rampant over anything having to do with women’s health, especially when it comes to the menstrual cycle.

Yet it’s surprising that, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a law suit filed on the basis of gender discrimination against state and local taxation of menstrual products since they are a necessity used almost exclusively by women.

Perhaps it’s time for more activists in the US and elsewhere to pick up on the lead of the Canadian feminists and raise a fist clutching a tampon, pad, or cup (whichever one prefers) and demand the elimination of this discriminatory levy.  Readers are invited to propose appropriate slogans.  And perhaps in Boston in June we could stage a new version of the revolution’s tea party.  Boston harbor afloat with tampons!  Now there’s an image sure to get coverage.

  

Widening the Cycle: A Menstrual Cycle & Reproductive Justice Art Show

March 31st, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui

Guest Post by Jen Lewis

The Lost Ones (2014); Artist: Nichole Speciale

When I scroll through my library of menstruation-related media coverage, I’m truly impressed by the volume of articles and blogs being published. It’s amazing to see a human rights article about chaupadi practices in Nepal one day and a sexual wellness article about period sex the next. However, I am continually disappointed by the images that accompany these articles. I don’t know about you, but I’m completely over seeing women frolicking about in the world appearing completely unaffected by their menstrual cycle clad in white skirts and bikinis. I’m tired of red cartoon lines tying into knots to symbolize my menstrual cycle. I’m sick of the clear blue liquid and the complete omission of blood in menstrual product commercials. I’m tired of receiving Google Alerts about menstrual art only to be directed to articles that were too cowardly to post an accompanying image. What kind of mixed message are we sending with this increase in menstrual discussion but continued erasure of menstruation from the visual landscape?

For all of these reasons, I was compelled to curate an art exhibit that exclusively looks at the menstrual cycle and reproductive justice through the eyes of contemporary artists. Widening the Cycle is a social justice art show that threads together global voices to raise consciousness about menstruation and reproductive justice through feminist art. Its mission is to energize the public menstrual dialogue by making the menstrual cycle visible through thought-provoking visual imagery. A diverse collection of 40 artworks will be installed throughout the common areas and four pop-up galleries at the meeting of SMCR and the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA. Together, we aim to disrupt the status quo and make menstruation visible through this collection of painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture, fiber and video created by artists residing in 10 countries.

Join participating artists Diana Álvarez, Gabriella Boros, Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch, Lucy Madeline and Kyle Peterson for a lively discuss about the power of art on Friday, June 5th during the lunch session entitled Beyond “Menstruation Bathroom”: Stimulating Social Change Through Visualizations of Gendered Blood.

Additionally, there will be an opening reception, open to the public, on Thursday, June 4th from 5 PM – 7 PM. Widening the Cycle will also be open for general public viewing the evenings of June 4th, 5th and 6th.

  

State of Wonder–Part 3: Wondering about menstrual cycle misconceptions in a fictionalized theory for extended fertility

March 27th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

In Parts 1 and 2, I wondered why author Ann Patchett chose not to include information about menstruation, femcare products and birth control that, logically, would have enhanced her novel’s inciting premise—lifelong menstruation and fertility—while retaining the literary integrity of State of Wonder. I believe just a few sentences could have accomplished this.

Now, I wonder about the menstrual cycle misconceptions that underpin Patchett’s proposed explanation for the extended fertility experienced by the Lakashi tribe.

The reader learns with Dr. Marina Singh, the novel’s protagonist, that the Lakashi women continue to menstruate, ovulate, conceive and give birth into their 70s because they regularly chew the bark of Martin trees found in the Brazilian rainforest. The bark is so effective there are no post-menopausal Lakashi.

The women chew the bark once every five days except when they are menstruating and when they’re pregnant, because the bark repulses them from the moment of conception. The researchers, led by Dr. Annick Swenson who has been studying the Lakashi for decades, observe the women chewing the bark and collect cervical mucus swabs to monitor their estrogen levels. They dab the swabs on slides for “ferning.”

“No one does ferning anymore,” Marina said. It was the slightly arcane process of watching estrogen grow into intricate fern patterns on slides. No ferns, no fertility.

Dr. Saturn shrugged. “It’s very effective for the Lakashi. Their estrogen levels are quite sensitive to the intake of the bark.”

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle: Used with permission from Geraldine Matus, Justisse Healthworks for Women

Patchett perpetuates the myth that fertility is all about estrogen. Actually, fertility is dependent upon the cyclic ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone. As the graphic illustrates, estrogen rises in the pre-ovulatory phase, peaks, then drops dramatically just before ovulation occurs. Post ovulation, estrogen continues to be produced but its effect on cervical mucus is suppressed (no ferns) by the substantially higher level of progesterone which acts upon the endometrium in preparation for pregnancy.

It would make more sense for the Lakashi to chew the bark more often during the pre-ovulatory phase but be repulsed by it post-ovulation as progesterone rises. How neat would that have been? The researchers could have pinpointed ovulation in their study subjects. Oddly, ovulation is not even mentioned.

Furthermore, if intake of the bark raises estrogen levels, chewing the bark every five days would interfere with the post-ovulatory rise of progesterone, throwing the hormonal interplay of estrogen and progesterone required to achieve and support a pregnancy out of whack.

Another issue: Marina is told that by chewing the bark “her window for monthly fertility would be extended from three days to thirteen.” What does this really mean? According to the scientific principles underlying the fertility awareness method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy, the fertile phase starts when fertile-quality cervical mucus is first observed and ends when three dry days have passed. The bark would increase the fertile quality of the mucus and the number of days fertile mucus occurs pre-ovulation, thereby increasing the chances for conception. But sperm can only survive five days, kept viable by the mucus that locks it in the cervical crypts until an egg is released. And that egg will remain viable for only 24 hours. Timing of intercourse still matters. The extended fertility explanation in the novel does not suggest the Martin tree bark has any effect on these accepted reproductive factors.

Am I being too picky? Perhaps. State of Wonder is, after all, a work of fiction. But I expect a seasoned novelist to have researched basic menstrual cycle facts so as not to pose an explanation for extended fertility that doesn’t pass scrutiny. Had Patchett consulted with a menstrual cycle expert, perhaps an SMCR member, she might have imagined a much more plausible scenario. In the actual book I read, there were no acknowledgements to those she may have consulted on the subject.

I loved State of Wonder for all it’s literary complexity that goes far beyond the details related to the menstrual cycle that I have wondered about in this 3-part series. But it’s been fun to explore how one novelist wrote about a subject I am intimately familiar with and to suggest how she might have done it differently.

Ms. March—Menstruation Pin-Up

March 20th, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui

Guest Post by Jen Lewis

Beauty in Blood Presents
Ms. March: Bursting Through
Year: 2015
Menstrual Designer: Jen Lewis
Photographer: Rob Lewis
  

Period Revolution — How Period Apps are Changing Women’s Health

March 13th, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui

Guest Post by Dr. Lara Briden

My new book Period Repair Manual begins with some warm words about Period Apps. I’m talking about the smart phone applications that let us tap in data about our period start date, bleed duration, and symptoms such as spotting, breast tenderness, and mood.

Of course we could always do the same thing with old-fashioned pen and paper, but period apps are different somehow. They’re right there in our bags. They’re often on our hand. That makes it so easy to check in with our body’s information on a daily basis. That makes it fun to track periods—almost like a game.

I love period apps because they have made periods seem less threatening. They have made periods seem normal (which of course they are). As a naturopathic doctor working with period health for the last twenty years, I perceive that period apps are part of something bigger now in women’s health. More and more women are talking openly about their periods, which is exciting. Even more exciting is the fact that more and more women are saying Yes to their own natural cycles, and No to the birth control pill.

Women are saying No to the pill because they’re finally starting to understand that pill-withdrawal bleeds are not real periods. They want real periods, and they’re ready to have a closer look at what those periods are actually doing. How better to have that closer look than with a period app?

Period apps help women to see how their periods currently are. They also help women to track the way their periods improve over time with natural treatment such diet, supplements, and herbs.

I have one big concern about period apps, and that’s the way they can confuse women about ovulation. I know, because I’ve had these conversations with some of my patients. Their phone tells them that they ovulate on a certain day, and they believe it. Why wouldn’t they believe it? It’s data from a high-tech device. I explain that their phone can only guess at ovulation based on the timing of their last period. It cannot truly know when they ovulated or even if they ovulated at all (it’s possible to have bleeds without ovulating). I teach patients to learn to know their ovulation. I teach them to look for the physical signs of ovulation such as fertile mucus, cervix position, and a shift in basal body temperature. They can enter that data into their period app, and then will they have a truly useful technology.

Periods apps are not perfect, but from my perspective, they’re a step in the right direction. They’re an important tool for body literacy and period health.

Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor with nearly twenty years experience in women’s health. She is also the author of Period Repair Manual.
Read her blog and learn more at http://www.larabriden.com/.

  

Bad Blood!

March 10th, 2015 by David Linton

The history of women being discriminated against for having a menstrual cycle is, unfortunately, long and varied one, going far back into antiquity as demonstrated by prohibitions spelled out in the biblical book of Leviticus. Sometimes the prejudices or fears underlying both formal and informal practices spring from misunderstandings of biological functions; sometimes they are simply vestiges of patriarchal systems designed to maintain male dominance; sometimes they are indications of cultural lag, behaviors kept alive despite the fact that the individuals really “know better” but are stuck in their traditions. Shirley Jackson’s famous short story, “The Lottery,” captures such a phenomenon brilliantly.

The bad news is that there are still a lot of cultural practices in place whose meaning or usefulness has long ago been found to be worthless. The good news is that every once in a while enough noise is made or enough light is shed on a bad idea that it is abandoned, even if reluctantly.

The recent story about how women job applicants have been asked intrusive and pointless questions about their menstrual cycles and how the interview questions were dropped from the protocol gives us cause to sigh in dismay that such things continue to happen but also gives us reason to smile with pleasure that public exposure brought about change.

Readers are encouraged to respond with posts citing other similar stories.

  

State of Wonder–Part 2: Wondering about missing femcare products and birth control references

March 6th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

In State of Wonder–Part 1, I mused as to why, in a novel revolving around the extended menstruation and fertility of the Lakashi tribe, only the menstrual cycles of the Brazilian women being studied are made visible to the reader. Why does author Ann Patchett ignore the menstrual cycles of the novel’s protagonist, Marina Singh, or the other female research scientists? If they are eating the tree bark responsible for the Lakashi’s extended fertility, their menstrual responses should be of interest to the author.

Failure to mention the scientist’s cycles points to another puzzling omission. There is no reference to menstrual-care products the women would have required while living in the rainforest for years at a time. There was opportunity to do so because a few key scenes are set in the store where research leader Dr. Annick Swenson buys all the provisions for the camp.

Marina must visit the store immediately upon landing in Manaus because the airline has lost her luggage. She has no clothing, no toiletries, none of the necessities for daily living. Why does she not purchase, visibly to the reader, tampons or pads? If not on her first trip to the store, then on her second as she prepares to leave for the remote research camp with Dr. Swenson? She obviously will need such supplies as her weeks in Brazil progress, and the timing of her cycle, as deduced by this reader, suggests she needed them while in Manaus or shortly after arriving at the camp.

I think Patchett’s reason for leaving out this menstrual-related information was not literary, but rather socio-cultural in nature. She tastefully shares the intimate details of the Lakashi women’s menstrual cycles, but can’t find a way—with even a few sentences—to convey this aspect of other female character’s lives? (Exception: Dr. Swenson, whose experiences I avoid mentioning to prevent plot spoilers.) Did she try? Did she resist? If so, why? What a missed opportunity. Marina’s interior dialogue makes it clear she is a still-menstruating woman wondering if motherhood will be in her future. How easy it would have been to use Marina’s need for tampons as a segue to consideration of her fertility.

Which brings me to another menstrual-related omission in the book. There is no reference to the birth control methods used by Marina and one of the female scientists who lives in the research camp with her husband.

Drs. Nancy and Alan Saturn are part of the research team in Brazil. Nancy is eating the bark, enhancing her fertility. Pregnancy is not an objective for this couple; they must be using contraception. The pill would be contra-indicated—a double whammy of exogenous estrogen provided by the pill and the Martin tree bark could have negative consequences. Condoms would break down in the heat. A Mirena IUD might not be at odds with the estrogenic bark, which has another critical medicinal effect the researchers are eager to access. Maybe a copper IUD? A diaphragm? Abstinence? Does it matter? Perhaps not, but why not be daring and tell the reader anyway? Surely the author must have asked herself these questions.

And what about Marina’s choice of birth control? At 42 she is in an intimate relationship with a much older colleague, the man who sent her to Brazil. Contraceptive use is implied but the method is, yet again, invisible. One can assume it was non-hormonal and not an IUD because of what happens at the end of the novel. But why not write one or two sentences along the way to convey this information? Isn’t this what good writers do, litter clues as a novel progresses to set up what happens later?

Ann Patchett chose not to mention the femcare products and birth control methods her characters used in her novel State of Wonder. I can’t help wondering: why?

Continued in State of Wonder—Part 3: Wondering about menstrual cycle misconceptions in postulating a theory of extended fertility

  

Call for Submissions: The Unmentionables Film Festival—Vol I: Menstruation

February 23rd, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui
Call for Submissions

The Unmentionables Film Festival –  Vol I: Menstruation
Maysles Cinema, NYC
June 14 – 21, 2015

 

Are you looking to change the conversation around menstruation?  Are you interested in demonstrating how this biological occurrence is not simply a “girl problem,” but an experience that touches us all in profound and unexpected ways?

 

If so, we want to hear from you.

 

The Unmentionables Film Festival is an annual theme-based program that will focus on a different “taboo” topic each year.  The inaugural program, Vol. I: Menstruation,  will present a week-long exploration of menstruation at Maysles Cinema, an independent film house in Manhattan.

 

The Festival is currently accepting submissions for narrative, documentary, and experimental short and feature-length films.

 

Not a filmmaker?

 

In addition to films and videos, the Festival seeks performances, stories, installations, visual art pieces, literary works, sound art, essays, poems, etc. on the subject of menstruation.

 

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/170rMUB
Twitter: @unmentionableFF

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS
Film/Video Submissions
Film and video entries can be submitted online via FilmFreeway.com, by April 3, 2015.

 

Non-Film/Video Submissions
Proposals for non-film/video works can be submitted using the online form on the Festival’s website, by April 3, 2015.

http://www.unmentionablesfilmfestival.com/submissions-2-1/

  

Ms. February—Menstruation Pin-Up

February 20th, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui

Guest Post by Jen Lewis

Beauty in Blood Presents:
Ms. February: Let It Flow #1
Menstrual Designer: Jen Lewis
Photographer: Rob Lewis
  

Depo-Provera and Fifty Shades of Grey—The Movie

February 13th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

Dear Readers: The following post first appeared on July 25, 2012, during the media think-piece flurry over the soaring popularity of E.L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. With the movie opening on Valentine’s Day, 2015, I can’t wait to find out if or how Depo-Provera is referenced as the contraceptive choice made for heroine Anastasia Steele by ob-gyn Dr. Greene, a character I have confirmed via IMDb is in the movie. I argued in the post that Depo-Provera as Ana’s birth control method was an unrealistic plot device. Commentary on Fifty Shades has again started to snowball, but I doubt anyone besides myself will have the slightest interest in this facet of the story. I invite readers who get to the theater before I do to report back in the comments section.

Menstrual Considerations in Fifty Shades of Grey

Fine literary fiction it is not, but the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James can certainly claim to be libido-boosting storytelling. Deirdre Donahue at USA Today summarized the books’ appeal in 10 reasons ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has shackled readers. She pretty much nailed it. And she’s read the books, which is more than can be said for other writers, including this one who implied that heroine Anastasia (Ana) Steele signs a contract to become hero Christian Grey’s submissive in a BDSM relationship. She doesn’t.

Until he meets Ana, Christian’s sexual history has included only BDSM relationships, those involving bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism. BDSM plays a role in their love story, but the most sadistic thing that Ana submits to is a shot of Depo-Provera. re:Cycling readers know what I think of this contraceptive: I. Am. Not. A. Fan.

As a menstrual cycle advocate, I pay attention to menstrual mentions wherever they appear. It was impossible for me NOT to hone in on how James handles menstruation and birth control.

Christian quickly ascertains that Ana, a virgin when he meets her, is not using birth control. (His unflinching communication about sexuality is one of the books’ most appealing aspects.) As their sexual affair begins, he uses condoms. Within a week or so he asks when her period is due and says, “You need to sort out some contraception”. But our hero is a rich control freak, so he arranges for “the best ob-gyn in Seattle” to come to his home on a Sunday afternoon. Ana, the narrator:

“After a thorough examination and lengthy discussion, Dr. Greene and I decide on the mini pill. She writes me a prepaid prescription and instructs me to pick the pills up tomorrow. I love her no-nonsense attitude — she has lectured me until she’s as blue as her dress about taking it at the same time every day.”

Alas, Anastasia, just 21, is the perfect example for why researchers with the Contraceptive CHOICE Project are recommending that women under 21 use long-acting reversible contraceptive methods. She forgets to keep taking her pills when she and Christian briefly break up. It’s back to condoms for this couple, until Dr. Greene reappears, confirms Ana is not pregnant, and, after Depo-Provera’s side effects are dismissed as irrelevant because “the side effects of a child are far-reaching and go on for years,” gives her the shot. I almost had to stop reading.

I get it that James uses Depo-Provera as a plot device, as becomes apparent. But the author’s decision to give Ana Depo-Provera is not in keeping with either Dr. Greene’s or Christian’s characters. I don’t believe for one minute that the best ob-gyn in Seattle would give Depo-Provera to any patient; she’d recommend a Mirena IUD. As for control-freak Christian, he is adamantly committed to Anastasia’s safety, evidenced in many ways. He would never consent to her taking a drug with these potential side effects: weight gain, digestive problems, depression, loss of bone density, vaginal dryness, and — especially — loss of sexual sensitivity and desire. Never! And he’s too smart not to know this.

Christian’s occasionally expressed distaste for condoms also seems to be a plot device considering he uses them so skillfully, and without obvious diminishment to either his or Ana’s pleasure, through 986 pages of the 1594-page trilogy. The tearing of foil condom packets is a leitmotif that in no way hinders this man’s exceptional “sexing skills.”

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.