I would like to thank the contributors to menstruation.com for the following anthropological context surrounding menstruation, leading up to my observation of/analysis of / example protocol for PMS ritual behavior (as I sit with my heating pad in my lap, waiting for the Pamprin to kick in and contemplating surgical removal of my ovaries):
So great was the belief that the power of creation existed within the blood of a woman that many myths such as the Ancient Hindu version in which all life is created from the thickened blood of the Great Mother include reference to it.
The word ‘ritual’ comes from ‘rtu’ which is Sanskrit for menses. The blood from the womb which nourished the unborn child was believed to have ‘mana’ or ‘breath of life’.
The word menstruation comes from the Greek menus meaning both moon and power, and men meaning month .
The traditions of blood sacrifice have their origin in the ‘sacrifice’ of blood which poured forth from the woman when there was no new life for it to nourish. However, the menstrual blood was given freely and then used to nourish the tribe or the earth in other ways and no-one suffered, unlike later more corrupted versions.
A woman’s bleeding was considered a cosmic event, relating and connecting one to the moon, the lunar cycles and the tides. She was thought to be at the height of her power at this time, and for this reason was encouraged to spend time listening to her inner voice which would often offer suggestions and wisdom which would benefit the whole tribe.
This ‘Moootime’ was later distorted into a perception of ‘uncleanness’ and women were forced to go apart, unable to participate in the preparation of food for men or ceremonies (although to be honest, the women probably still enjoyed the break, whatever the reason!) and their wisdom was denigrated, called lunacy, and forced underground.
As you can see from the expert synopsis of the historical and cultural context on menstruation, this monthly biological phenomenon women have endured since, well, women existed, is so embedded into our culture that it spawned even the concept of a ritual, our routinized behavior occurring for specific reasons at specific intervals in time. It used to be that women were revered for their burden, which probably made the whole hormonal imbalance / uncomfortableness of cramps a bit more tolerable. Then as we evolved and society got a bit more complicated and gender reverence went by the wayside, we got to a point in our global cultural history whereby women started owning / feeling their grumpiness more freely in the days before and during her “period”.
And that is what brings us PMS…The universal joke we laugh about because otherwise it might make us curl up into little balls and cry. We live in fear of our PMSing house-mates and family members. Therefore, it is good for any male of the species (or even female who might lose perspective when it’s not her time) to arm themselves with some good linguistic / ritual consumption rules to help ease everyone exist in harmony. I know that in my home, the diagram below applies in any and every PMS situation:
- The Culture Wars and Your Aunt Flo (new.exchristian.net)
- If Men could Menstruate by Gloria Steinen (philipogola.wordpress.com)
- The Monthly (wordwenches.typepad.com)
- Menstruation and the Media (sciencemomma.wordpress.com)
- Period Drama! Pop Culture Makes Menstruation ‘overly Traumatic’. (medicalnewstoday.com)
One thought on “The Ritualization of PMS Protocol”
I enjoyed your post. It is timely. We must be in sync. 😉