rame.net  :  misc  :   period porn

From: David Austin <David_Austin@ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: Disgust and deviance (WAS: Re: pornstars peeing)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.erotica
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 22:23:23

in article rame.952891204p168@bash, Pube-lius at pube_lius@my-deja.com wrote on 3/12/00 2:49 PM:

> In article <rame.952822809p20695@bash>,
> David_Austin@ncsu.edu wrote:
>>> What's next? Menstruating, defecating, vomiting, etc.?
>> I don't know of any porn in which all three appear together, but I've
>> not looked carefully.
> Sounds like a wonderful way to spend that research grant money.

I'm not spending any grant money, alas. Getting grant money for research on almost any aspect of sex is extremely difficult, mainly because of the guilt, shame and self-perpetuating ignorance about sex that even leads some to assert that "we already know all we need to know - after all, it's natural, and people have been doing it forever."

The last time a large government grant was approved - a study of American sexual behavior to gather data for epidemiological tracking of STDs and AIDS in particular - Senator Jesse Helms stepped in, or rather, stomped on, and the award was rescinded. Instead, a much less reliable study, with a population smaller by a factor of thirty, was done with limited private foundation funds - and is summarized in _Sex in America_.

> Don't waste time studying anything frivolous, like global warming or
> development economics.

Sex presents far older and deeper problems than these relatively recent ones, though they too are deserving of study - especially if solutions can lead to better sex (and surely, they can).

>> ...golden showers play is far from an obscure practice...
> Can you support this statement?

A very quick database search turned up mentions in Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, and the Washington Post, and I've seen discussions in other magazines with smaller circulations. Of course, Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler are not shy about at least discussing the practice, and they circulate widely enough to inform enough of the population to make the practice at least non-obscure. And then there are the frequent negative mentions of it in the writings of feminist and especially conservative anti-pornography activists, from which so many first learn of the existence of various sorts of sexual activities. And no one has any good numbers on how prevalent the practice itself is. It's tough to get grant money to study sexual behavior, as I noted.

>> ...over half of the population sees nothing wrong with having sex
>> during menstruation, I'm not sure why (it) draw(s) such disgust and
>> derision...
> You're confusing two different things. The "sexualization" (to use the
> term favored by you academics) of menstruation is not the same as having
> sex during it. It's when the menstrual blood itself is the object of
> sexual excitement that disgust and derision come in. I have little doubt
> that over half the population WOULD see something wrong with THAT.

I'm not guilty of the confusion you attribute, but I'm partly responsible for your misinterpretation, and I can clarify.

I was offering the evidence that sex during menstruation is not uncommon and often far from abhorrent as support for the distinct claim that the depth and breadth of disgust at menstrual sex is not so high as you seemed to suggest. And there are after all possibilities between disgust and keen focus, e.g., indifference or acceptance.

Almost any strong sexual focus is likely to draw, or have drawn, disgusted and derisive responses from lots of people. (The standard example is oral sex, which was within living memory regarded as disgusting but which is now much more widely accepted. Something similar _might_ be happening with US attitudes towards anal sex.) So I'm not sure what would be shown by establishing that the vast majority of people are disgusted by "sexualization" of menstrual fluid (as you non-academics tend to think academics like to say).

in article rame.953161217p4074@bash, Patrick Riley at p_riley@pipeline.com wrote on 3/15/00 5:54 PM:

> He's also implying a slant that I'm sure was not understood in
> the question (presuming that there was some marginally scientific
> study on this).

According to the reports in Sharon Golub, _Periods: From Menarche to Menopause_ (Sage, 1992) and Sophie Laws, _Issues of Blood: The Politics of Menstruation_ (Macmillan, 1990), menstrual sex is a fairly common occurrence. Golub reports that in surveys of British and US populations, about half of those surveyed did not think that intercourse during menstruation should be avoided. (126-128). One example among many of more recent expressions of even more accepting attitudes is: Tommy Leonardi and Sheri de Borchgrave, "Period Peace," _POV Magazine_ (November, 1998) 138, an 'advice' column that offers a 'male' and a 'female' perspective, that month on sex during menstruation; both guest columnists recommend it, which is less significant than the fact that the column would be focused on this issue at all. [For useful historical perspectives on the development of recent American attitudes towards menstruation, see Joan Jacobs Brumberg, "Sanitizing Puberty: The American Way to Menstruate," The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls (Random House, 1997), 27-55; and Lara Freidenfelds, "Tampons: Advertising and Bodily Practice, 1936-1950," paper delivered at Discipline and Deviance: Gender, Technology, Machines (Duke University, September 28, 1998). For discussion of other US and other cultural attitudes, see: Alma Gottlieb and Thomas Buckley, eds., _Blood Music: The Anthropology of Menstruation_ (University of California Press, 1988).]

> However if you rephrase the question as "Is having sex during
> menstruation something that would sexually excite you?" I think you'd
> get a very different answer and if you asked why you'd hear something
> about "mess" and a general reluctance to come in contact or even see
> blood. Don't forget lots of people are very queasy at the sight of
> blood (menstrual or otherwise).

There haven't been any studies that I know of that ask this question. _I_ think you'd get other kinds of answers from a lot of people (and I know that you'd get other kinds from some people who aren't 'menstrual fetishists'): He or she says, "Sure it's messy, but sex is already messy. We just use an old towel, or do it in the shower." She says, "I get really horny during my period, and even when I'm feeling crampy, the orgasms get rid of the cramps and make me feel better." Don't forget that lots of people are not bothered by the sight of blood, _partly_ because it's all over TV, movies, etc., and that it's anyway not easy to see menstrual blood because there isn't much of it and the lights are often out or dimmed or the celebrants have their attentions focused elsewhere.

> You could also ask (and verify (camera on the wall of the bedroom
> <g>)) how many times a couple had actually had sex while the female
> was menstruating? I very much doubt you'd get anything bigger than a
> tiny minority of even the young currently sexually very active
> population. The women's magazines frequently have letters on "How to
> avoid having my period while I'm on my honeymoon" or "Help it came
> early and the wedding's tomorrow."

I very much doubt that you'd find anything like the distaste expressed even twenty years ago by (now) older people, and _I_ feel quite sure that you'd get a substantial minority, perhaps a majority, who have sex during the fifteen percent or so of the pre-menopausal adulthood that women are menstruating. Magazines (and sex manuals) for younger people (say, twentyor thirty-somethings), men and/or women, frequently have letters on "Why it's perfectly OK to have sex during your/her period," and even on "How to have safe oral sex during your/her period."

Well, now. My evidence for my replies is likely as good, if not better than, your evidence for your assertions. Is this progress? I doubt it.

> You have to remember that David gets these weird ideas because he
> hangs around with people like "Your Pal Tal", Annie Sprinkle, and
> other new age anachronisms from the seventies.

No, I'm on the wrong part of the wrong coast, so I never get a chance to hand around with people like these, though I'm sure I could learn a great deal from them. Here in the Bible Belt, old new age, new new age (and Catholicism) are stereotypically viewed with deepest suspicion (especially Catholicism, which some locals tell me is not really a kind of Christianity, and they don't need all that complicated theology anyway).

Given the extreme relative rarity of period porn, if I did rely on it for my information about attitudes towards menstrual sex or "sexualization" of menstrual fluid, I'd conclude the opposite of what I've asserted.

David F. Austin


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