The Rhetoric of the Modern American Menstrual Taboo

by Thomas, Erika Marie

Abstract (Summary)
The menstruation taboo remains a phenomenon in most cultures, including Western society. Despite progressive social relations and education in the United States, messages within our culture depict menstruation as an act threatening and socially harmful to women. This project employs Michael Calvin McGee's method of analyzing discursive fragments in order to create a text which exposes the modern myths surrounding menstruation and the enforcement of the taboo. First, I examine the role of visual imagery in influencing cultural beliefs and contend that films visually connect the image of blood and menstruation to the logic of evil, danger, embarrassment, and dirt thus reproducing the menstrual taboo. Second, I examine various advertising campaigns for feminine hygiene products to determine how the menstrual taboo adopts a repressive discourse to successfully sell products to women while simultaneously silencing womens' issues to the private sphere. Finally, I examine artifacts that challenge the taboo and discuss implications for the future of the menstruation taboo. I conclude that rethinking the subject matter is necessary to further empower women on issues of embodiment. The rhetorical analysis critiques the discourses responsible for the continuation of the taboo and attempts to break down its repressive nature.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:rhetoric taboo menstruation women public sphere film advertisements repressive hypothesis


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.