Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Dr. Susan Mann

Second Advisor

Dr. Rachel Luft

Third Advisor

Dr. Gilda Reed


The main objective of this study is to develop a feminist theoretical understanding of menstruation. I first explore Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist existentialist concept of woman as Other to establish a baseline from which all other sociocultural discourses on menstruation flow. I next expand Erving Goffman’s symbolic interactionist theory on stigma to discuss the social-psychological internalization process that girls encounter as they become enculturated into menstruation as a stigmatic condition. I then use a macro-discursive, Foucauldian analysis on power and discourse to understand how menstruation has been socially constructed from premodern superstitions, to the rise of modern medicine in the late 19th century. I follow this with a Marxian, macro-materialist understanding of capitalism to discuss how the femcare industry emerged and commodified feminine hygiene products. Finally, I investigate how second and third wave feminists have mobilized to resist patriarchal ideologies which devalue, subordinate, and subjugate menstruating bodies.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.