Category Archives: mutual appreciation

New Year, New Blood.

Tonight, the amazing Chris Bobel is reading from New Blood,  her book about 3rd wave feminism and menstrual activism, at Bluestockings Books in NYC! The event details are here.  If you can possibly get yourself there, I highly recommend it. I was one of the people she interviewed for the book, and she’s a funny, inspiring writer and researcher with some amazing insights.

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Chart Your Cycle is 5!

Five years ago, on a bit of a whim, I wrote a zine called Chart Your Cycle. Everything I’ve done since to do with Adventures in Menstruating has been a direct result of that whim. Thanks to everyone who’s supported or contributed to the zines, the blog and the show over the past five years.

This was the third printing – the first run had black and white covers, the second run had solid colour covers in bright shades, and the fourth printing had solid colour covers in pastel shades. It’s currently out of print, but if you happened to get your hands on a copy during the summer of 2005, you’re halfway through your cycle-chart right now.

Last Saturday I had an excellent time at the London Zine Symposium, and they were celebrating their own fifth birthday. It felt pretty coincidental, but all of us who read – Isy Morgenmuffel, Josie Long, Patrick Staff, Charlotte Cooper and I – seemed to be onto a retrospective theme with the stuff we chose. There was a really nice atmosphere and it was cool to see how we’d all changed over the years. The free zine I’d put together for the symposium was made up of my friends’ and fans’ recollections of what they’d been doing five years ago this week. If you’d like to contribute, get in touch.

More on the zine symposium later. Just wanted to say a quick thanks for now.

Cheers,

Chella

Every Day is International Women’s Day

Especially when you’ve partied all weekend and slept through the real one. Does it count that I partied in a foreign country? (The savvy readers among you will remember that I live  in a foreign country, so don’t answer that one too quickly.)

Anyway, here’s a great little piece from the Onion that popped up on our facebooks yesterday.

Girl Welcomed to Womanhood With Four-Page Pamphlet

from The Onion

Cheers to all the new facebook fans and new readers from over on Belle’s blog – you may notice that I don’t take a whole lot seriously.

But, in all seriousness, US readers should check out Elissa Stein and her book Flow on The View today. It is about time she got some more recognition!

Those of you who appreciate baking-related humour may love (or loathe, but they say that’s the same emotion, right?) this Cakewrecks feature. I’m giving that a not-menstrual-but-should be.

And finally, if you’re making yourself a stain for our Stains TM campaign, please send in a pic. We’ll post a few on here!

Happy day-after-international-women’s-day, particularly to all the awesome international women I know.

-Chella

New Year, New Zine, New Distro…

Everything’s just new, new, new, I think. Except for the snow. That’s getting a little old, actually, even the new snow. Bleurgh. All our travel – local and international – has been messed up. Even walking to the shop. My fleece-lined wellies have seen far more action than my t-strap maryjanes in recent weeks, and I’m cross.

EXCEPT that everything else is NEW NEW NEW. I have to keep reminding myself (and you should too) that even though the weather is being pre-post-apocalyptic, there are some cool things afoot.

The new zine issue is out, and the New Yorkers liked it. Now, I’m sorry, England. You may say that people from the US have no irony, but you clearly have not spent enough time in NYC.  The Lower East Side could kick your ass with irony, and they liked the zine. So I stand by ‘the New Yorkers liked it’.  

The first distro to carry it (because there was no postal system or blizzard involved) is our good friend Erin’s new distro, Things You Say

The name’s from a Sleater-Kinney song, but also, handily, refers to the communicatey-ness (real word) of zines. Erin’s working on a new zine, and her blog, Bi-Coastal Gimps, is in the blogroll to your right, and you can read our zines blurbs on her catalogue page. Erin is also slightly addicted to Sarah’s cookies, which we discovered when we visited her over Christmas, and knows a Chinese restaurant where you can do your ordering like it’s an online catalogue. It was amazing.

We’ll post some pictures from our trip up on the facebook fanpage later in the week. You can become a fan by clicking that link on the right over there. Unless you’re reading this on your phone, in which case you’ll have to type ‘Adventures in Menstruating’ into the facebook search bar. Wow, I feel like one of those people in an infomertial or on Blues Clues where I’m referring to things on a screen that I know you know I really can’t see right now.

Stay tuned for more about our New York trip, some new work of ours, more details about upcoming events, and some new Second Place Awards we’re happy to bestow.

Happy New Year!

Chella

Going with the Flow.

Welcome to my hundredth post! Not a lot for some, but plenty for me, and more to come. This review is primarily for people who already know our zine and our comedy, but welcome, Flow fans! Please check out the rest of the site for more period-related shenanigans.

Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation
By Elissa Stein and Susan Kim
St. Martin’s Press 2009

As we’ve seen on many occasions, stuff about menstruation can cause people to have quite a visceral reaction. Believe it or not, this happened to me with Flow, but it wasn’t in the style of the Bledbook scandal; it was envy. I wished I’d written this book.

It actually feels like it should be a zine. It’s very 50s kitsch, with a collage-reminiscent cover and retro font. A quick flick through reveals a heavily image-laden layout with vintage ads as a theme. It takes a very pro-feminist stance on periods. There are even some Etsy-style craft finds toward the back. But there’s one major difference – it’s huge, it’s hardcover, and it goes for $29.99.

The production values are outstanding – it’s stitched and bound, its cover is satiny smooth with a glossy, embossed feel to the images, and the flyleaf and endpapers are a vivid red. There is no pussyfooting around here – this book is about blood. Every page is illustrated and laid out magazine-style with subheadings, call-outs, and a red dot motif that is pleasing and consistent. It’s very designy, and I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that co-author Elissa Stein’s background is actually in graphic design.

It was really exciting holding a heavy, shiny book on the history of periods that was put out by a mainstream publisher. St. Martin’s Press was kind enough to send me a review copy. For the first day I had it, I just stroked the cover and flicked through it, admiring what professional publishing could do. I don’t mean to come over all publisher porn, but it seems pretty lush having the backing to print the old ads in high resolution and pay for all the rights to the images. This is not an average-looking book by any means – the money was well spent and the result is gorgeous. In the Flow universe, periods are glamorous.

Enough about style and on to substance – the tone of the book is very American, and, particularly, very New York. It’s jokey, with healthy levels of crude and rude. There is, though, a sensitive and thorough chapter about medical issues, and a quite frank one about how periods and religion (usually) don’t mix. Flow also includes an overview of menstruation in recorded history, a handy timeline, and the science bit.  I was quite surprised to read that Pliny the Elder thought menstruating women killed bees. That Pliny. What a loon. (Worries about current lack of bees worldwide…nah…) Most readers will find out stuff that’s quite shocking and definitely interesting. With stand-alone chapters and lots of facts, this would make a good bathroom or coffee table book that people can dip in and out of.

I have to admit I felt some déjà vu when reading the chapters about the history of feminine hygiene advertising, and my regular readers will as well. Spookily, it seems that when you give the same ads to New York Jews with high bullshit detectors and an eye for interpreting visual symbolism and subtext, their responses will be pretty similar. In fact, when Elissa Stein (who wrote that section) read my zines she and her family loved them. Elissa and I have exchanged several emails since the book came out, and it’s refreshing to have found another pro-period writer who’s on the same page as I am. I’d love to collaborate with her some time and I’m happy to call her a bloodsister.

If Flow had a manifesto based on a summary of the opinions expressed in the book, it would be largely pro-period-sex, anti-menstrual suppression, anti-femcare industry, anti-big pharmaceuticals, pro-masturbation, pro-sex worker…ideologically, it ticks all my box-related boxes. It even manages to be non-heterosexist in its language, showing that Elissa Stein and Susan Kim are straight but not narrow. Interestingly, they’re anti-euphemism, whereas I’ve said before on the blog that I’m ready to reclaim euphemisms and coin ‘newphemisms’ the way you’d give your best friend a nickname, rather than using them to keep periods hush-hush. Flow’s writers also support radical responses to menstruation, but ask why talking about menstruation is still a radical act. Their book helps bring period talk into the mainstream, without compromising beliefs and opinions that many would also consider radical.

Flow is a good primer. It sums up the whole shebang, it’s easy to read, looks good, and will catch the attention of people who’ve never really thought about these issues before. It arms armchair activists with rebuttals for less period-positive friends and relatives and helps deal with that other kind of visceral response. If you already have no qualms about the topic, you’ll find Flow (and its extensive bibliography) a refreshing jumping-off point for art, discussions, research and essays.

About the price tag – don’t let that put you off if you’re used to buying or trading zines. Wait for a sale or request it from your local library. But remember that it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of all those disposables…

This is one ‘feminine hygiene product’ you definitely won’t be throwing away.

Chella Quint

A Song For Sesame Street

googly eyes

‘Everything I know about x I learned from y‘ is a snowclone we’re gonna borrow in honour of Sesame Street’s 40th birthday.  Seriously, though –  Sesame Street introduced me to the alphabet, Spanish, opposites, how stuff’s made, sign language, Johnny Cash, sketch comedy that’s funny on two levels, the conventions of live news reporting, parody, super heroes, music videos, documentay filmmaking, diy animation, women can fix televisions, monsters are people too, The Beatles…not to mention how much I learned about advertising techniques from all those segments designed to ‘advertize letters and numbers to kids’ based on the original premise for the show. I still like and do all that stuff, and Sesame Street seems to have, most importantly, been my first media studies class.  Audience, Marketing, Representation – it’s all there.

Anyway, we’re gonna be on Leeds University Radio again today with a birthday tribute to Sesame Street. We reckon being  period positive can start at any age, and figured if Sesame Street did a segment on periods, we know  how it would go. Tune in live or listen to the podcast to find out.

Thanks to Sarah’s old school friend  Ben at Naivety Succeeds for making our amateur recording skills sound a little less ‘amateur’ and a little more ‘skills’.

And, happy birthday, Sesame Street – my favourite show ever!

-Chella

PS How cute are Google’s Sesame doodles?

Happy Hall-oh wait that was yesterday…

If  you’ll allow me to riff on the A-Team saying of old, I love it when menstruation and zombies come together, and boy did they for me this weekend. I promised Leeds Uni radio’s Femme Fatale show listeners that I’d post more details of our Halloween Party, and I also had another radio-themed surprise this weekend when I tuned into the podcast for NPR’s comedy quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

But first, I should explain that my retort to anyone who likes horror movies but cringes at menstruation is, “Why are zombies eating brains ok, but if they start menstruating, it’s gross?!  Blood and guts are blood and guts.”  So part of our show is the film trailer and pitch for my menstrual zombie comedy movie. You know,  “In a world where…etc. etc.”    Some of you have heard it already, and I’m happy to pitch it to anyone else who wants to know between now and our next gig. In any case, we are so annoyed that the title ’28 days Later’ is already taken…

So, that’s the backstory to my costume for our annual Halloween party that we host for our friends. We get really competitive with ourselves, and it’s kind of a mini comedy installation each year. This year’s theme was the International Undead Convention, and guests were invited to invent a cause or lobbying group that they would represent, as an undead individual.  Then I created parody logos for each of them.

Sarah co-hosted on behalf of the Vampire Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. (The GLAAD logo looks amazingly like blood when you give it a re-colour, and the ‘a’ and ‘d’ are particularly blood-droplet-reminiscent as well!) I love GLAAD, and I hope they don’t mind my parody. They get a ‘not menstrual but should be’  tag.

vlaad

I was a member of Menstrual Zombie Actors’ Equity (again – it should go without saying that I respect and support what Equity does). I had a huge red bloodstain printed onto the bottom of the back of a tshirt. I’m telling ya – one day I am gonna start my Stains TM fashion line (Ha! I have now actually done this: www.stainstm.com! -Chella). Red is the new black.

We put signs up around the house to make it look like each room was a different conference venue, and created parody logos for each of the guests as well…I’ll do a gallery later on.zombie equity

Meanwhile – over on US radio, we were delighted when we listened to the Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! podcast today and heard the intro by host Peter Sagal:

“In honor of Halloween we’re talking zombies with legendary movie director George Romero — how to recognize them, how to defend against them, and — since this is Public Radio — how to try to reason with them, and come to mutual understanding and respect.”

The whole show was great, as usual, but I really got a kick out of the festive theme, and I love zombies. For George Romero’s bit, he had to answer a question. The answer to the question will lead you to this link, so you may want to listen before you read on. (Is it appropriate to announce spoilers for a radio quiz show?)

Spoilers:

Romero gets the answer right (and the video itself is pretty good until it veers off into questionable territory after about minute six or so – further analysis from me will follow in Issue #5 of Adventures in Menstruating).  Other than a smattering of groans from the audience (a mild response for this crowd – they have shown much more disgust much more vocally for more appropriate targets in the past, so I’m not complaining), periods were part of the comedy.

Menses even made it back at the end of the show for some recall about an earlier panel topic –

Peter asked for a prediction: “In reference to the first inter-gender golf match, how will President Obama show that he is all about the ladies?”

Panelist Amy Dickinson immediately fired back: “In solidarity to the women on the staff, President Obama is going to adjust his own hormonal cycle so they will all menstruate at the same time.”

Again, good-natured fun, and women were not the butt of the jokes, which means that Wait Wait wins a Second Place Award.  I may need to create a new category for menstruating!Obama.

And, now that periods and the undead have shared radio air-time twice in one day on two continents, and even if I’m the only person who noticed or cared, I think menstrual zombie movies are officially on the table.

So, George…can I pencil you in for a storymeeting?

-Chella