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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 08:28 AM

Women, Vaginas and Blood: Menstruate With Pride

(Breaking taboos with artist and provocative feminist, Sarah Maple)



In an unfailingly mischievous manner, Sarah Maple uses narrative artwork to challenge traditional notions of religion, identity and the societal role of women. Her artwork never fails to shock; her latest piece Menstruate With Pride (right) is no exception. Surrounded by a horrified and disgusted crowd, Maple stands centre stage, a proud woman menstruating in public. It’s an interesting and bold statement; clearly Maple is an incendiary feminist. But the painting also airs a deep societal secret that menstruation is – and must remain – taboo.

What better way to understand the meaning behind Maple’s artwork than to ask the artist herself? “Initially I didn’t want to make work about menstruation because I thought it was a bit of a cliché. But as I was looking more into the idea of women and shame, I felt like I couldn’t avoid it!” Maple laughs. “I think there’s a phenomenal burden of shame on women from word go. When I started my period I was absolutely horrified, I felt it was humiliating. I didn’t tell my mother for 3 years, I felt I was letting her down. I think this may have been a cultural thing,” she says.

Interestingly, Maple considers her culture to be partly responsible for her shameful feelings — she’s the daughter of an Iranian mother and a Kentish father. Some cultures and religions, including Orthodox Judaism, Christianity and Islam, isolate menstruating women by excluding them from prayer, physical intimacy and even household chores. Maple’s artwork transgresses these taboos by exposing and mocking them, almost satirically. “I like laughing at things for being taboo; this is what I wanted to do in the painting. I wanted to create a drama about it, like in the classic religious paintings, hence the triptych format of a religious altar. Everyone is looking so outraged and shocked and you end up laughing at them, laughing at their outrage,” says Maple.

Rules are attached to menstruating women according to Simone de Beauvoir, feminist and author of The Second Sex, because they are viewed as impure, repulsive and dangerous, particularly to men. She explains that men repress women’s sexuality because they fear and are in awe of women’s monthly bleeding, a biological power gifted only to women to enable them to produce the next generation.


http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/04/13/women-vaginas-and-blood-menstruate-with-pride-breaking-taboos-with-artist-and-provocative-feminist-sarah-maple/

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Response to boston bean (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 08:39 AM

1. Hmmm. Well, I can certainlhy appreciate the countering of societal attitudes surrounding this...

but....

I've never been ashamed of menstruation, but given the horrific menstrual migraines, nauseating PMS and inexplicable exhaustion that came along with the "show", I wouldn't feel much like celebrating (?) it in this manner.

Perhaps there are other ways to accomplish the same goal?

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 08:47 AM

2. I think it had more to do with the societal taboo's.

I was quite scared and ashamed myself when I first got my period.

And there is there's all the societal baggage that goes along with it. it's that time of the month, etc....

Did I miss the word celebrating in the article? I might have. Or maybe just took a different read of it.

Get what you are saying though..

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Response to boston bean (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 08:59 AM

3. I meant "celebrating" in the generic sense-- (to observe, commemorate, proclaim, make known publicly

To design an entire narrative art exhibit around the issue, is to celebrate it. Perhaps the little "shock" value alone is not a bad thing. Complacency, after all, never allows for change.



No woman should feel shame from what is a very normal biological function. But, I think there are many many many girls and women who were very poorly treated by a medical system that had--for all too many years-- given lip service to some of the more serious health issues surrounding women's hormonal cycles. I suffered for nearly two decades from the worst and most debilitating migraines needlessly largely because of institutional disregard for women's specific health issues. SO, if i had my druthers, that is where I'd direct my time and attention.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:04 AM

4. Ah, I get it!

I agree. I know that most docs that I have seen are not very understanding of the pain that can come with menstruation.

Very good point!



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Response to boston bean (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:11 AM

5. And work places are also not very understanding...

Try being out of work when your hormones are out of wack. I use to find another excuse to give them when I was suffering from severe menstruation pains. Most times I just worked anyway out of fear of losing my job.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:26 AM

6. my brother is a single father to a daughter. we were talking one day and he was telling me

how he discussed periods with his daughter. the whole sun is shining, in a field of flower, womanhood.... music pouring from the skies, dancing, yada yada yada

i told him. reality check. it is painful, a mess, a pain in the ass.

never was into the glorifying in womanhood bullshit

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:43 AM

7. Me neither.

I had extreme menstrual problems, it was painful and debilitating and unmanageable.

Add to that, for as long as I can remember, I was 100% certain I never wanted to have children. It always seemed like my body was playing a cruel joke on me. "You don't want kids? Too bad so sad, deal with it anyway." Every single month, I had to deal with excruciating pain while my body insisted on preparing to carry a baby I was never going to have.

I had a uterine ablation 2 years ago, have not menstruated or had any pain since, and couldn't be happier about that.

It is nothing to be ashamed of, but I can't get on the celebration bus.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:49 AM

8. I hear this.

I read the article a bit differently.

Not as a celebration, but nothing to be ashamed of.

All here are making very good points.

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Response to boston bean (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 22, 2012, 11:38 AM

15. That's what I took from it too.

There's so much shame about it. It seems to me that we see at least comic references to bodily functions all the time, but that one less so. Haven't done any research of course, just an impression.

That one makes people feel uncomfortable for some reason. The only time it's openly discussed is when it's used as a silencing tactic against another (justifiably, most likely) angry woman.

And the blood itself is treated like toxic waste. Washing diapers is no big deal, but re-usable pads?! Shock! Horror! Revulsion!

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 10:31 AM

9. i had never thought of it from your perspective.

while my body insisted on preparing to carry a baby I was never going to have.

honestly, i dont know that i ever looked at it as body preparing to carry baby. duh.... lol. but, if one does not want kids, i can see how you would look at it that way

thanks for the tilt in the seeing.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 06:47 PM

11. Yes... I can definitely relate to what you are saying...

'Hardly a "gift" to women who don't have children... Just, (at a minimum), decades of discomfort and nuisance-- and for many, severe adverse health consequences.


I can certainly see why women who give birth might think upon the entire experience quite differently.

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Response to boston bean (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 05:13 PM

10. There may be a Warren Zevon song in there, somewhere. nt

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #10)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 01:59 PM

12. I actually LOL'd when I first saw the photo, but your comment has me

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 05:43 PM

13. Perhaps in Sweden, they will now refer to it as

"henstruation"

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #13)

Sun Apr 22, 2012, 10:15 AM

14. I had to Google that to figure out what you meant.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2012/04/gender

snip...

SLATE's Nathalie Rothschild wrote last week about gender in Sweden. Among Swedish efforts to minimise gender stereotyping is a small movement to replace the pronouns han and hon, "he" and "she", with a single pronoun, hen.

more at link

===
When I was about 13 or so, I had to go through something called Confirmation, at church. I'm still not sure what it was about, but I remember asking why we refer to God as male when in Sunday school we were taught that God was neither male nor female. I asked why there wasn't a special pronoun for God. I was laughed at by everyone in the class, including the pastor.


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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #14)

Sun Apr 22, 2012, 01:21 PM

16. thread about it in this group ;)

 

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1255687

I was probably confirmed a few years before you. My stumbling block at the time was not believing in hell. Our minister, a reformed Baptist (the United Church of Canada, my then church, is about the most theologically liberal / socially progressive Christian church in the world) pondered, and said well, he had a minister friend who was a missionary who didn't believe in hell, so that would be okay he guessed.

That parable of the talents, though, I rejected that from first reading way before confirmation, and I don't know how the UCC makes it peace with that one.

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