Geographies of Girlhood: Identities In-Between

By Pamela J. Bettis; Natalie G. Adams | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

"Only 4-Minute Passing Periods!"
Private and Public Menstrual
Identities in School

Laura Fingerson
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

As girls start to menstruate, they must learn how to incorporate a menstruating body into their everyday lives and into their identities. A large part of this everyday life is spent in school, a place where girls have little control over their schedule and with whom they interact. By high school, girls have experience with menstruation in their private lives, yet they are still learning how to manage menstruation in public spaces. In high school, the girls move from being children concealing their new menstrual status to adults taking on a public menstrual identity. They are in a liminal space betwixt and between childhood (as nonmenstruants) and adulthood (as menstruants). In this chapter, I explore how high school age girls manage the practicalities of menstruation and their social interactions surrounding menstruation in the schools. I then turn to the tension girls experience between a private menstrual identity and public menstrual identity where menstruation is talked about and experienced in social interactions.


THINKING ABOUT THE BODY AND MENSTRUATION

The body is a hybrid of sorts. Torn between the realm of the physiological and the social, the body encompasses both but is entirely neither. Whereas biological reductionists risk losing the social in their physical renditions of

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