THE HISTORY OF THE CURSE: A COMPARATIVE LOOK AT THE RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL TABOOS OF MENSTRUATION AND THE INFLUENCE THEY HAVE ON AMERICAN SOCIETY TODAY
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University of North Carolina at Charlotte
ABSTRACTSAMANTHA B. WEBSTER The history of the curse: a comparative look at the religious and social taboos of menstruation and the influence they have on American society today. (Under the direction of DR. KENT BRINTNALL).James Frazer, in his late 19th century book The Golden Bough, examined superstitious beliefs about women, menstruation, and the taboos of fear and anxiety that menstruating women caused in various societies. "Drops of menstrual blood upon the ground or in a river kill plants and animals; wells run dry if a menstruating woman draws water from them; men become ill if they are touched by or use any objects that have been touched by a menstruating woman; beer turns sour if a menstruating woman enters a brewery, and beer, wine, vinegar, milk, and jam go bad if touched by a menstruating woman." In the 1930s, there were attempts by scientists to prove that menstruating women exuded menotoxins and other poisonous elements in their menstrual blood, perspiration, saliva, urine, and tears. Most Western cultures within today’s society do not believe in such menotoxins, nor menstruation taboos; however, the effects of said taboos are still widely influential in today’s society. Therefore, most women believe that it is at least good manners, and sometimes necessary, to hide evidence of menstruation not only from public view, but in private as well. From being banished to the shed, to the requirement of fasting and prayer of cleansing, to the evolution of hiding a large pack of maxi pads in her grocery basket behind items she does not even need, why are women told to be ashamed of a bodily function that they have no control over? Through this project, I would like to examine ways in which various menstruation taboos arise through negative religious implications. From there, I will examine how these taboos negatively effect woman’s sexuality and examine the ways in which American cultures view period shaming and why it has to stop. In addition to this, I will examine ways in which the ideals behind menstrual periods are starting to be liberated through the use of neo-Pagan rituals of today, and views of menstrual blood as a sign of liberation of female power. Overall, I argue that the negative ideals behind menstrual taboos should be abolished and liberation of menstruation should be exemplified.
Robinson, JoanneMcCloud, Sean
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2017.
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