A witty first-person narrative in which Stein and Kim wonder if anything in all of human history has been so reviled, feared and catered to as menstruation


The old joke "Never trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die" is especially depressing when you consider that women weren't trusted with much for the bulk of history, and it may have had something to do with menses. Although feminine-hygiene products and pain meds have come a long way, society, as a whole, continues to be suspicious, disgusted, and flummoxed by the fact that women bleed every month. In Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, authors Elissa Stein and Susan Kim bring period talk out from behind closed bathroom doors to reveal this secret history, including the links between feminism and attitudes about monthly flow. Stein and Kim cover every side of menstruating: the hilarious ads that skirt the issue of blood, new birth-control pills developed to do away with periods all together, the frivolous characteristics of hygiene products (wings!), and how some cultures celebrate a girl's first period while others condemn it. At their best, the authors serve as brash cultural critics with the courage to engage in candid discourses about the smell and look of menstruation, while casting the suspicion back at those who can't deal with a little thing called blood.

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