“Calling attention to the uniquely female experience of monthly bleeding excludes [all those] who cannot or will not bleed.”
A major feminist group last month tweeted out a “flow chart” that seeks to eradicate gendered language in discussing menstruation.
Shared by the Women’s March London on Jan. 20, the “Queeriods” diagram identifies common phrases associated with women’s periods, and offers alternatives. For starters, it admonishes readers not to say “women” at all in this context, but rather to adopt the neologism “menstruators.”
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Other suggestions include replacing “femcare” ― whoever says that ― with “menstruation management,” “mothers and daughters” with “parents and children,” and “women” with “people.” Apparently “menstruators” and “people” are both acceptable alternatives for the plural noun for female humans.
For bonus points, the flowchart advises, provide gender neutral toilets or at least put tampon bins in the men’s room.
As a trans inclusive and intersectional group we try to use inclusive language when talking about issues of biology. This guide from @PeriodPositive explains why we chose to use the word "menstruator" in an earlier tweet about the tampon tax. pic.twitter.com/F6TQmxAQ3L
— Women's March London (@womensmarchlon) January 20, 2019
The small print at the bottom of the chart includes a number of inspirational quotes about the dangers of gendering periods.
“Calling attention to the uniquely female experience of monthly bleeding excludes young girls, post menopausal women, [trans, non-binary, and intersex people], and women who, for myriad other reasons, cannot or will not bleed,” Chris Bobel, an associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Massachusetts College, is quoted as saying.
The illustration was originally created by #periodpositive, a British activist group cum hashtag that promotes uber-woke menstruation education. Chella Quint, a comedian and “menstruation education researcher,” evolved the organization in 2006 out of her free Adventures in Menstruating comedy show and workshops on the subject, according to the #periodpositive website.
— Chella Quint (@chellaquint) December 12, 2018
The flowchart ― which recalls PETA’s much-maligned December tweet calling for an end to “anti-animal language” ― cites Quint herself at length.
“Simple language shifts that have gone unqueried can now be queried, and help include all genders in discussions about how they do and do not experience menstruation both physically and socially,” she says in part. “This goes beyond etiquette however; ignoring or negating the experience of queer menstruators where there is already a history of exclusion compounds this problem.”
The #periodpositive lexicon is of a piece with the ascendant movement for transgender rights, which has increasingly won legal recognition in the United States and the United Kingdom. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently promised to use her new Democratic majority to advance the Equality Act, a bill that would codify protections against LGBT discrimination, including special guarantees for trans people to be regarded in federal spaces according to their self-identified gender rather than their biological sex.
However, not all feminists are as amenable to trans activism as Quint has shown herself to be. A number of “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” as they are derogatorily called on the left, last week sought to block the Equality Act by aligning with conservatives and in one case ambushing a transgender woman who was advocating for the bill on Capitol Hill.
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