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Period piece

There's a new book out that brings up a topic I haven't thought about lately: my first period. It's My Little Red Book, edited by 18-year-old Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, is an anthology of short recollections about that first time. The review in the New York Times predicts the book will be a hot seller based on its universal and pretty-much-taboo topic. I hope that's true.

The book's message (from Nalebuff's Web-site):

In a time when the taboo around menstruation seems to be one of the few left standing, it makes a difficult subject easier to talk about, and helps girls feel proud instead of embarrassed or ashamed. By revealing what it feels like to undergo this experience first hand, and giving women the chance to explain their feelings in their own words, it aims to provide support, entertainment, and a starting point for discussion for mothers and daughters everywhere.

No argument from me, though I won't share the details about mine here. But I say "yay!" to anything that reduces women's shame over reproductive and sexual health or illness.

For some perspective on the long, long road to normalizing attitudes about women's health, here's a link to Medieval Woman's Guide to Health, written in English in the early 15th Century. The forward quotes an even older book: De passionibus mulierum curandarum, written by the mysterious 11th century healer Trotula (man or woman, no one knows), which states:

Since then women are by nature weaker than men it is reasonable that sicknesses more often abound in them especially around the organs involved in the work of nature. Since these organs happen to be in a retired location, women on account of modesty and the fragility and delicacy of the state of these parts dare not reveal the difficulties of their sicknesses to a male doctor.

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