I am all for Modern Art and think MoMa’s current exhibit, Talk to Me, on how our fast changing world is always in communication with us is brilliant. As much as I am one of those who need to get out of the city every couple of weeks to recharge in nature, I love and value technology too.
My response to Ms. Magazine’s post about one of the pieces in this show, the Menstruation Machine, was a feeling in my belly much worse than your average period cramps. The piece itself is extremely intelligently built, designed to dispense blood and stimulate the lower abdomen in a way that would feel something like menstrual cramping. The artist, Sputniko, wants to allow cis men and anyone else who may not have periods to be able to experience menstruation and point out to all of us who are still bleeding for 3-7 days every month that this is an outdated and unnecessary part of being a woman. “It’s 2011, so why are humans still menstruating?”
I am all for modern art and design but let’s not neglect the greatest designer there is, nature. In case you missed Biology 101, some people are designed with an incredible ability and purpose to birth babies. Even if you choose not to experience childbirth or motherhood directly this time around, there is a place where we need to remember and acknowledge the creative power that comes with that gift. To quote one of the greatest midwives of our time, Ina May Gaskin, “There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we.” Sputniko has another piece called Child Producing Machine, a song for girls who would rather become a cyborg than to cope with menstruation pain. “If I have to suffer with my biology – I’d rather be a Cyborg than a goddess.”
If I get really honest, the feelings coming up when reading this article (anger, sadness, grief) are my own internal response to the younger parts of myself that were out of sync with her cycles and saw menstruation as something to be controlled and embarrassing. What I thought was ‘Menstrual Liberation’ was just a huge layer of denial and self-attack on my own femininity that did actually result in physical problems. After being on the pill between the ages of 17 – 22, I did not get a period for one whole year. I may have considered this a blessing in my teens but my intuition was developing and I felt that something wasn’t quite right. I saw holistic nutritionists, acupuncturists, Naturopathic doctors, did loads of yoga and did not have a regular period until I experienced some intensive Ayurvedic medicine while traveling in India.
The journey back to my own cycle was transformational and taught me to appreciate my body’s signs and signals in a whole new way. I would never wish to have my period taken away again nor is it something I feel everyone needs to experience just so menstruators can prove how victimized we are, suffering this awful tragedy every 28 days. I think if men genuinely want to understand better what their girlfriends are going through that is sweet but the reality is, not every menstruator suffers each month. Should we all have to experience impotence just to be more compassionate towards those who do? If you haven’t read The Red Tent yet, it will open you up to the sacred tradition of your own moon cycle so you can appreciate its purpose and meaning and maybe even allow you to celebrate it!
I see the world in metaphors and if the earth is a symbol of the feminine, I think we’ve gone a bit too far in its suppression and destruction. When we are able to value the power and mystery of the true feminine that does exist in all of us, men included, I think we will be on track in helping our planet restore herself. What do you think?