On the Rag

Artist: Jennifer Weston Date: 2017 – 2020, Medium: Mixed Media, Diptych Dimensions:

Every month I hold my own personal event; I menstruate. I tell no one except in emergencies; whispered in hush hurried tones. ‘Do you have a tampon I can have?’

In private I dash off to curb the flow, mustn’t make a mess, no blood must show. Neat, clean woman. All stains must be meticulously washed out; removed with a cocktail of chemicals. 

Can you smell my blood?

 Oh the shame!

As a girl I was told that menstruation was a painful curse that affected all womankind and something to be endured. I was horrified by this description and promised myself that this blood was not an affliction but just a bodily function. However, it was harder to get a distance from this cultural appropriation as I learned about not only the pain, but the sudden unpredictable onset and the bloody mess it caused. I learned about the colours of menstrual blood, clotting and flooding.

Woman experience menstruation in many different ways, some celebrate a time of slowing down and tuning into the rhythms of their body, others take to their bed with cramps and floods. For many women it is expected to be business as usual as the blood is mopped up by ‘new super liquid holding gel’ that promises to keep you fresh. Do we have time to allow menstruation to be the ‘wise wound’? Does our predominately patriarchal culture support women in slowing down to take stock of this monthly cycle and shedding of the lining of the uterus?  Do you have time in your work place to take a slow day?  I certainly have not experienced that outside creating nurturing space for myself.

Emancipation comes with the menopause. With the release of the last egg, women are relieved of their biology and social expectations to reproduce. Cessation of the menses cycle is a type of liberation. Liberated from the constraints of procreation; Liberated from mess; liberated from the smell. And in this society that shames women’s blood, liberated from having to pretend that nothing is happening to your body. Within our culture the menstrual cycle is glossed over. It is fundamental to the perpetuation of the species yet the current marketing campaign for sanitary products are focusing on the fact that we females can just mop the blood up with their product and act like nothing is happening. I do not believe that emaciation lies in pretending that nothing is happening. At what point will we culturally acknowledge that a women’s monthly cycle is the sacred bringer of life? 

Women are sacred bringers of life.

This textile based diptych is supported onto a wooden dowel or can be hung from the fabric tabs.

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