Menstruation episode on CBC’s Out in the Open

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The most recent episode of CBC’s Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay focuses on menstruation: “in this episode, we explore how different women from the past and present deal with their periods.”

There are a number of great segments in this episode, including how difficult it can be to get diagnosed with endometriosis, the man in India who developed a system for making affordable menstrual pads, homelessness and menstruation, how Victorian women dealt with their periods, and the musician who free-bled during the London Marathon.

I’ve tweeted at Piya Chattopadhyay that I hope she’ll submit. Couldn’t resist!

So, while you’re working on your pieces for the anthology, have a listen to these stories and get inspired.

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Bloody media

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Here are some recent articles about menstruation, in case you should need some bloody inspiration:

  • New Bodyform Period Ad Uses Actual Blood And It’s Amazing: HuffPo.ca
  • Chinese swimmer and media darling shocks fans with personal revelation: NYT
  • The (Very) Puritanical Online Censorship of Periods: The Establishment
  • How do women handle their periods in space?: CNN
  • “Shake S**t Up!”: Kiran Gandhi Talks Stigma: Girls’ Globe

Have I missed anything? Lemme know in the comments.

A message from Tanis MacDonald

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Only seven more weeks to go in our call for submissions period!

Menstruation writing can be about having your period and about all forms of cessation of menstruation.

We are looking for prose (fiction and non-fiction), essays, poetry, and mixed-genre work for women and non-binary folks from all kinds of cultural backgrounds, socio-economic circumstances, political stances, bodies, and walks of life.

I would love to see work that addresses class, race, age, and dis/ability.

“Will you be sick during the time of the trip?”

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From an excellent article by Jess Dunkin on canoe trips and menstruation in the 1920s and 30s for NICHE:

“In the fall of 1981 at the age of 72, Mary Northway found herself back at Glen Bernard (GBC), a private girls camp near Sundridge, Ontario, where she had spent almost two decades as a camper and staff member in the 1920s and 1930s. She had returned to share her recollections of these experiences with Doré Millichamp, a friend from Toronto. The two women recorded their conversation as they perambulated through the camp property. As they approached a small stream that ran through the centre of GBC Mary confided to her companion:

I don’t suppose I should put this on tape, but…Maria and I wanted very much to go on a long canoe trip…and we both thought that it was about the time we’d be under the weather. And Maria’s sister, a nurse, told us if we sat in cold water it would push forward. So, we’d go down every morning and sit in this stream that’s as icy as can be. [1]

If the meaning of Mary’s confession is unclear, an excerpt from Esther Keyser’s autobiography, Paddle My Own Canoe, may be helpful:

[Northway Lodge]’s approach to female hygiene, which I took for granted at the time, was that girls who were menstruating were not allowed to go on canoe trips. None of our modern sanitary supplies had been invented. Washable rags served the same purpose as sanitary napkins and tampons. Before a canoe trip, we would be asked if we would be menstruating. The question was usually asked, “Will you be sick during the time of the trip?” [2]

Which makes me curious. Those of you who went on long back-country camping or canoeing trips, how did you deal with menstruation? Did you begrudge the weight of pads or tampons to an already full pack?

CFS: Poetry and Prose about Menstruation

Having a visit from Aunty Flo. Moon time. Being on the rag. Whatever we call it, most women menstruate once a month for three decades or more. But in addition to pink-wrapped pads and tampons, Eurowestern women also receive the following messages: don’t talk about your period. Don’t talk about cramps or bleeding through your clothes or having sex while you’re menstruating. Menstrual blood is dirty and talking about it is vulgar. When women do speak up, men often dismiss their politics as moods and hormones and “that time of the month.” But as long as there have been women, we have been telling each other stories about our first periods or that time we stained a chair or a skirt or went swimming for the first time with a tampon. In many Indigenous cultures, menstruation is sacred: menstruating women are considered powerful and connected to the earth.

So let’s talk about menstruation, its onset and its disappearance, with all its counting, calendars, surprises, myths, jokes, embarrassments, power surges, possibilities, stains, equipment, and sheets in cold water. Let’s talk about the body and the land, feminism and the environment, gender and disability, age and class and race.

We want your poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and mixed genre pieces about menstruation for an upcoming anthology: women and non-binary identifying authors only, please.

To submit work, please:

  • Send up to 5 poems, or prose and mixed-genre pieces of 2,000 words or less to us at menstruation2016@gmail.com.
  • Include a 100-word bio.
  • Let us know if this piece has been published previously, including where, when, and whether or not you retain the publishing rights to the work.
  • Deadline: October 15, 2016

The collection will be published by Frontenac House in fall 2017, and edited by Rosanna Deerchild, Ariel Gordon, and Tanis MacDonald.

Rosanna Deerchild is an award-winning Cree author and broadcaster. Her family is from the O- Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation located near South Indian Lake, Manitoba; she grew up in Thompson, Manitoba. She has worked for a variety of Indigenous newspapers and major networks for over 15 years, including APTN, CBC Radio and Global. Her debut poetry collection, this is a small northern town (Muses’ Company), won the 2009 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, and she launched her second book, Calling Down the Sky (Bookland Press) in 2015. She is a co-founder and a member of the Indigenous Writers Collective of Manitoba. She lives in Winnipeg and works as the host of Unreserved for CBC Radio One.

Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer with a background in science and journalism. Her second collection of poetry, Stowaways (Palimpsest Press, 2014), won the 2015 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. She is currently writing creative non-fiction about Winnipeg’s urban forest, which is slated for publication in 2018 with Wolsak & Wynn. Gordon works as promotions coordinator at University of Manitoba Press and is a frequent contributor to the Winnipeg Free Press and Prairie Books Now.

Tanis MacDonald is the author of three books of poetry including Rue The Day (Turnstone Press), as well as the non-fiction The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (WLUP). She is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.