New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation

By Chris Bobel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Feminist-Spiritualist
Menstrual Activism

Nineteen-year-old Kami McBride was ill. It was 1981. When McBride sought medical advice, four different doctors told her she was simply manifesting the stress of a recent breakup, on top of college finals. While McBride acknowledged that stress is undoubtedly implicated in numerous health problems, she was not satisfied with this explanation. So she consulted a nurse practitioner and started to get different answers. Ultimately, a CT scan identified a tumor on her pituitary gland that McBride believed was linked to high dosages of estrogen-based birth control. During surgery to remove the tumor, the surgeon had to lift the front of her face to access the difficult-to-reach tumor. “When all was said and done, I had a different face than when I started,” remembers McBride. Looking in the mirror at her altered nose and mouth, Kami McBride decided to pursue alternatives to hormonal birth control. She could no longer ignore the warnings attached to various birth control methods, even as many of her friends continued to take oral contraceptives and hope for the best.

But McBride did not want to surrender her body to medical experimentation or to settle for the convenience of certain birth control methods at the expense of her health. From that point forward, she became deeply interested in what she described as “the possibility to create a different experience of health” and placed herb study at the core of her exploration. Following the lead of holistic health advocates Tamara Slayton, Jeannine Parvati Baker, Rosemary Gladstar, Jane Bothwell, and Vicki Noble, McBride began to realize that is was possible to disengage from the dominant paradigm of health care that disenfranchises women and replace it with one that relies on ancient traditions, informed embodied self-awareness increasingly dubbed “body literacy,” and holistic women-centered healing.

During her training, McBride had a second pivotal experience; this one awakened her to the links between the politics of women’s health and the role of menstruation. During the lunch break of a class with herbalist Jane Bothwell, the

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New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Encountering Third-Wave Feminism 14
  • Chapter 2 - Feminist Engagements with Menstruation 28
  • Chapter 3 - The Emergence of Menstrual Activism 42
  • Chapter 4 - Feminist-Spiritualist Menstrual Activism 65
  • Chapter 5 - Radical Menstruation 97
  • Chapter 6 - Making Sense of Movement Participation 135
  • Chapter 7 - When "Women" Becomes "Menstruators" 154
  • Conclusion 171
  • Appendix A- Methods 181
  • Appendix B- Interview Protocol 187
  • Appendix C- Demographics of Interviewees 189
  • Appendix D- Selected Menstrual Activist Resources 191
  • Notes 193
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 239
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