Menstruation, Education and Development
Knowledge of menarche, menstruation, and the female body is historically, socially, and culturally constructed. At best social messages concerning menarche suggest to women they will need help and sympathy to survive the changes their bodies will undergo; at worst, they suggest that menstruation is humiliating and shameful, something that women must conceal. Most women are exposed to a wide variety of these discourses concerning menarche, menstruation, and women’s bodies throughout their childhood and early adolescence. These are made available through health classes in school, through discussions with family and friends, and other external resources.
While previous research has explored where and how messages about menstruation are transmitted, less work has explored how these messages inform girls’ experiences with and conversations about menstruation. My work in this area is done in collaboration with Dr. Theresa Jackson (Bridgewater State University) to explore how both formal and informal menstrual education shape girls’ experiences with menstruation and their developing feminine bodies.