What does it mean to be a “menstrual activist?”
And what is UP with these “gynocentric-oriented feminist spirituals?”
According to Women and Gender Studies scholar Chris Bobel, it’s a struggle. “The menstrual activist struggle taps directly into the ongoing tug-of-war between feminists who embrace sexual difference theory and those who embrace gender theory,” Bobel writes in New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation.
It is exactly this complex, and at times even paradoxical, nature of menstrual activism that inspired Bobel to explore the Menstrual Activist as a case study for Third Wave Feminism--what Bobel calls her “quest for clarity and reconciliation.”
Third-Wave Feminism (n.): A movement that emerged in the mid-1990s following the Second-Wave of Feminism, aimed at inclusivity, intersectionality, and the embrace and celebration of individual definitions of feminism.
See also: Anyone Else’s Definition of Third-Wave Feminism Because Hey, It’s Third-Wave Feminism
Inclusion, as Bobel writes, is a “cornerstone of third-wave feminism.” This seems strange--how can a movement be truly inclusive of all experiences while maintaining cohesion and a clear mission? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it by what it is--third-wave feminisms?
For Bobel, and for us here at PERIOD, inclusion is not only necessary for the movement, it is the main ingredient.
“Inclusion is essential to building movement strength and solidarity,” Bobel writes. “A movement predicated on inclusion requires a reckoning with multiplicity that acknowledges human complexity.”
According to Bobel, not only is a movement built on inclusion, but inclusion is impossible without the attention to multiplicity.
That is, if we can make any generalization about third-wavers, it is that they embrace and celebrate a diversity of experiences, a multitude of identities, and view “fragmentation as a place of power.”
Fragmentation is a place of power.
The Menstrual Movement is in no way a new movement, but it is a momentous one. We are right where we need to be--riding a wave built on inclusion, surrounded by incredible and inspiring activists from all walks of life and experiences. In many ways, the Menstrual Movement was meant for the Third-Wave. It is a unique mix of the personal and the political, colored by 21st century gender-queering and by radical bleeding.
With so many voices shouting into cyberspace, it’s hard to feel heard, let alone, to feel that your experience, activism, and feminism is valid. Whether you are just arriving at the Menstrual Movement, or have been a mover and shaker for menstrual health for decades--welcome. We are so happy you’re here. Let’s ride this Wave together ~