First Blood: A Cultural Study of Menarche

Sally Dammery

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review


What woman forgets the moment of discovering her first period? The shock? Fear? Panic? Loathing? Embarrassment? Pride? Happiness? First Blood examines the ways in which women from countries as diverse as India and Sri Lanka, England, the Philippines, Greece, Italy, Uganda, Indonesia, Fiji, Chile, Ukraine, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, recall this moment of menarche and what it meant to them, their families, and their societies. What is the mystique of women's first blood? Blood is blood - or is it? What is the history of blood, particularly women's blood, and does this history belong to women? Who created the meanings associated with menarche, and why? Are ideas basically the same for every woman or are there marked cultural differences? Have meanings changed significantly over time and if they have, why? First Blood answers these questions and investigates beliefs and traditions surrounding menarche, including the concepts of uncleanness, of ceremony, of secrecy, and lore still existing in many parts of the world. The influence of science and technology in the development of the sanitary hygiene industry is traced, together with the role of the pharmaceutical industry in making menstruation an optional event.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationClayton VIC Australia
PublisherMonash University Publishing
Number of pages207
ISBN (Print)9781925377040
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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