Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation


Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation
by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim
© 2018
Here's a link to the publisher's page on this book...because I don't want to link to, you know, that big website that sells books and everything else.

I finally finished this one. It went quickly after I got used to the conversational tone. The book is packed with vintage print ads for pads, tampons, douches, hysteria treatments, etc. They range from quaint to charming to alarming.

I found the on the library bookshelf as I desperately searched for something smart, edgy, and rousing about women.

This was the sauciest and reddest book in the library. Funny enough the library lacks books about sex. I guess it isn't that important...it's just the thing that makes more people (and other creatures). To be fair, the library does have a handful of books on being a slut (some are on the side of slut = just fine, slut = past tense, as in author was one and was rehabbed in some way, slut = bad/dangerous). There are also books on relationships and intimacy after betrayal, which is not really about sex. They have the Hite Report, but not at the branch I frequent.

Why am I going on and on? Just wondering why there are countless books at the library on Hitler and Lincoln, knitting and handmade books, Italian food and crockpots, but so precious few on sex. None of it would exist without sex.

Anyway, check out Flow, even if to simply browse the images. And to wonder, why on earth are pads called 'sanitary napkins'? Ah, another tricky wording to make us feel unsanitary.


Back in my bookstore days, customers occasionally came into the store looking for the "blue books" or the "blue section". No, not the Kelley Blue Book of New and Use Car Prices, not books on depression or the genre of American music known as The Blues. Blue books. Simply, blue books. That's what the customer wanted. Perplexing. Decorating a blue room, perhaps? I am not sure.

This happened more than once. People in search of books of a particular color. Like the way consignment shops and second hand stores organize clothes, I suppose.

There may be some truth in there. Something those customers noticed. When I peruse the library, I have long forgotten my library science teacher's compelling lessons on the Dewey Decimal system. I wander the stacks, looking for a word or title to jump out. Or, maybe a color.

Where might I find blue books? Music, for sure. White, pastel yellow, and pale sage? Birth and parenting. Red? Among the sex and relationships section, as well as the Italian cookbooks.

The other red books are among the current events and political science sections (maybe history, too, history books are often brown, black, and grey, and so are the books about teenagers). History books are red for another reason (outrage, bloodshed, Republican Party).