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Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Written like a sassy young women's magazine with first-person narrative and the occasional astonished exclamation point, a normally taboo topic claims attention with the surprising-and sometimes horrifying-history of cultural reactions to menstruation (Pliny believed menstrual blood was toxic to flora and fauna), feminine "hygiene," and the enticing yet under-researched future of period-free birth control methods. Sprinkled throughout with entertainingly naïve ads from each era of the 20th-century as well as many references to scientific findings, author and graphic designer Stein and Kim, a graphic novelist (Circle of Spies) and writer of the play adaptation of The Joy Luck Club, evoke a light-hearted tone about their serious subject. They cover everything from menarche to menopause, including what menstruation is (which receives an outstandingly clear explanation) plus an enlightening discussion of the pad v. tampon debate, which at bottom was a sophisticated marketing strategy. Perfect for a preteen's introduction to adulthood and for women of all ages, this is guaranteed to spark conversation about old early sanitary technology (belts and pins), the pad's evolution, during WWI, when nurses found cellulose bandages more absorbent than plain cotton, and whether this universal female experience is a blessing, a curse-or just part of life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Stein and Kim wonder whether, in all of human history, anything else has been so reviled, so honored, so fear-inspiring, so mysterious (even to its hostesses), or so marketable as menstruation. Throughout millennia, the monthly act of shedding blood has stymied everyone from religious leaders to philosophers to physicians and scientists. Until the Industrial Revolution, that is, when feminine-care marketers began hauling in carloads of profits on the strength of proving to women that their monthly body function needed this gizmo or that potion, all the while referring to menstruation only in the most oblique terms—all that even a sumptuary society allowed. But at long last, along have come these two women to give us as plain-speaking, comprehensive, and witty a compendium of menarcheal information and reference as we’ve ever had. There is probably no better book for moms who want their daughters to respect themselves in every aspect, and for female preteens and teens who would never say a word about their moms reading a book about menses but surely would like several sneak peeks into its pages. One can only ask Stein and Kim, What took you so long? --Donna Chavez
Top customer reviews
Although the book starts out with the promised historical content, it quickly shifts into blaming men for the existence of everything from sexism to PMS, saying that women would never start wars, and preaching at the reader. It's chock-full of statements like "We're not saying that PMS doesn't exist" (after pages of saying PMS was made up by evil male doctors) and "We're not saying you have to enjoy menopause" (after pages of making one feel bad about even considering hormone replacement therapy.)
For $14 on the Kindle, I could have bough ten much better books. This is a rip-off and makes me want to stand barefoot in a kitchen somewhere, just to be irksome.
My favorite parts were the slang we use for periods and the history. As I was reading this book, I was also taking an American Literature class and there was a surprising amount of material that linked between the stories and poems required in the class and Flow. (Such as The Yellow Wallpaper and the history of hysteria.)
This book doesn't shame women for not loving their "heavenly ruby goddess river" and it doesn't shame women FOR loving it either. We all have different experiences with our bodies and they're all legitimate.
Great read. Totally recommend it for all women, and men too.