Roksana Badruddoja is an associate professor of sociology and women and gender studies and a Coordinator of the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center at Manhattan College. Her/their research on South Asian American women has been published in the National Women’s Studies Association Journal, the International Journal of Sociology of the Family and the International Review of Modern Sociology. She/they is the author of Eyes of the Storms: The Voices of South Asian-American Women, editor of “New Maternalisms”: Tales of Motherwork (Dislodging the Unthinkable) and contributor of Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion.
Certainly, cross-cultural literature helps to robustly organize women (and girls), our bodies and menstruation as “dirty” and “dangerous” to established social order. In this paper, I first seek to review a wide body of literature—biological medical, psychoanalytic and socio-anthropological discourses—demonstrating how women, our bodies and menstrual blood are defined as pollutants. Next, I highlight how women, our bodies and menstruation are interpreted as symbolic pollutants—the view that women and our bodies require control and menstruation is “evil”—within a “rigid” cognitive environment—androcentricism. Lastly, I explore menarcheal women in the U.S. and their consumption of menstrual and hygiene management products to reconstruct the symbolic pollution metanarrative. The ideas of pollution, purity and period management etiquettes provide a robust gateway in which to examine inequality, social control, group solidarity, morality and the status of girls and women.
Yucky, Dirty, Goo, and Mess: Rupturing Anti-Menstrual Discourse