By Toni Brannagan
This past year, we launched our inaugural menstrual equity campaign, alongside a petition demanding free and easy access to period products for students across the United States.
Our mission at THINX is to empower *every body* — a two-pronged goal we’re taking on by advocating for a sustainable, scalable solution to ending period poverty, but also by revolutionizing the way that people talk and think about periods in general. While a crucial part of activism is actually showing up (thanks for signing, if you have already!), educating yourself is a key component of furthering *any* cause.
If you’re interested in learning more about menstrual equity, I’ve put together a list of books that’ll bring you up to date on the storied political past of periods and the period products we’re fighting for.
Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand For Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf
If you’re new ‘round here, Periods Gone Public is the place to start! If there’s anyone who’s the *authority* on the subject, it’s Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, who has been leading the charge for equitable menstrual policy in the United States since 2015.
Her book not only catches you up to the current political landscape, but features practical calls-to-action for advocates to adopt.
The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation by Janice Delaney
While published in 1988, this book still delivers the history of menstruation in a number of cultures, including all the myths and superstitions that still prevail today!
The second half of the book relates society’s perceptions of periods, and how misrepresenting the subject has allowed innovation to fall by the wayside when it comes to period products themselves.
The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation by Karen Houppert
Did you scroll back up? Nope, you’re right, this is an entire *second* book called The Curse. I mean, I’m not surprised that there’s only a few go-to names for writers tackling the topic of menstruation. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Houppert’s take (published in 2000), in comparison to Delaney’s, tackles more of the secrecy that surrounds not just periods, but women’s physical and psychological health in general. She also puts this into the context of how period products are then basically marketed back to us with the intention of perpetuating the taboo — a subject that’s obviously very near and dear to our hearts over here!
Houppert has also reported for The Washington Post, The New York Times, Salon, and The Village Voice (RIP).
Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein
Again, what did I say about those titles?
Focusing less on period products, and more on the cultural narrative of menstruation, Flow is an accessible (and funny!) exploration of the public’s terror when it comes to periods — and why we’re definitely due for a change!
Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement by Nadya Okamoto
For a *very* current update on the landscape of the menstrual movement, check out Period Power, by 20-year-old Nadya Okamoto, who took leave from Harvard to found PERIOD, the largest youth non-profit in the world.
Period Power, which was released just this past October, does much more than discuss the cultural taboos around periods, but also outlines a detailed strategy for smashing the taboo entirely.
New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation by Chris Bobal
This detailed look at period politics will teach you everything you need to know about menstrual activists through the years.
Bobal traces the menstrual movement through warring second and third wave feminists (which she’ll help you actually understand), cultural and racial biases, as well as the inclusion of trans issues.
Psssst — it’s also available in its entirety on JSTOR, if that is something you have access to.
It's Only Blood: Shattering the Taboo of Menstruation by Anna Dahlqvist
Journalist, Anna Dahlqvist, spoke to women from all around the world—from the U.S. to Sweden to Bangladesh—about the consequences of lack of access to period products and menstrual shame.
This collection of interviews highlights exactly why menstrual equity is a human right, and exemplifies how the first step towards change is speaking up about injustice.
What books inspire you to be a more involved activist, or even a better feminist? Share your fave reads with us in the comments!