_Tags: bodies, consumption/consumerism, gender, health/medicine, knowledge, political economy, biopolitics, feminism, medicalization, menarche, menstruation, menses, patriarchy, stigma, taboo, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this scene from the movie Superbad, Seth finds himself dancing close to a woman at a party and winds up with her menstrual blood on his pant leg. A group of boys at the party spot the blood and deduce the source, and thus begins one of the film's signature gags: an awkward adolescent deals with what is supposed to be an awkward adolescent moment. In addition to Seth's panicked yet futile attempts to stave off humiliation are his efforts to work through the disgust of this unambiguous contamination. "Someone period-ed on my fucking leg!" he cries while gagging. Feminists have long been critical of this all-too-common fear of menstrual contamination and point to its roots in patriarchy. It is an instance of re-imagining the natural human experience of menstruation as a pathology, which can only be experienced with a measure of shame and dread. But more than men simply pathologizing a distinctly feminine experience, the pervasive fear of menstruation also fuels a multibillion dollar industry, which produces and markets hundreds of products designed to manage and even suppress menstruation (e.g., Lybrel and Seasonique). In an interview (here) about her recent book, New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation, sociologist Chris Bobel nicely articulates the connection between menstrual anxiety and corporate profit: "The prohibition against talking about menstruation—shh…that’s dirty; that’s gross; pretend it’s not going on; just clean it up—breeds a climate where corporations, like femcare companies and pharmaceutical companies, like the makers of Lybrel and Seasonique, can develop and market products of questionable safety. They can conveniently exploit women’s body shame and self-hatred. And we see this, by the way, when it comes to birthing, breastfeeding, birth control and health care in general. The medical industrial complex depends on our ignorance and discomfort with our bodies." The clip would work nicely with Bobel's book and as a means of opening a discussion about biopolitics, and specifically, the intensity with which women's bodies are scrutinized and managed by both the state and economy.
I would like to thank Aimee Koon for suggesting this clip.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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