Since history was recorded, male human beings have built whole cultures
around the idea that penis-envy is "natural" to women - -though having
such an unprotected organ might be said to make men more vulnerable,
and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least logical. In short,
logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for instance, if
suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer
is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood,
with religious ritual and stag parties.
The US Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help
stamp out monthly discomforts.
Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men
would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne
Tampons, Muhammed Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields -
"For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.)
Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would
cite menstruation ("MENstruation") as proof that only men could serve in
the army ("You have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political office
("Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by the
planet Mars?"), be priests and ministers ("how could a woman give her
blood for our sins"), or rabbis ("Without the monthly loss of impurities,
women remain unclean").
Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would insist
that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter
their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound
every month ("You MUST give blood for the revolution"), recognize the
preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in
their Cycle of Enlightenment.
Street guys would brag ("I'm a three-pad man") or answer praise from a
buddy ("Man, you are lookin' good") by giving fives and saying, Yeah,
man, I'm on the rag!"
TV shows would treat the subject at length. * "Happy Days": Richie and
Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has
missed two periods in a row. * So would newspapers.(JUDGE CITES MONTHLY
STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) * And movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood
Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at "that
time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore
life itself - though probably only because they needed a good
Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical
arguements. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense
of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that
in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus
for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and
religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe?
Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?
Contributed by: Connie Blair
Date Added: September 8, 1998