my pussy of choice is asshole

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Let’s take a moment and reflect the AIDs crisis, which I do not do nearly enough. I also reflect upon the fact that so many of the gays and queers who paved the way for our existence died as a result of the crisis. I give love to them and I hope that every act in my life goes into honoring their contribution to queer culture.

Rather than doing research for any number of the assignments that I have, I have looked at a number of papers dealing with Judy Grahn’s metaformic theory. Her theory, as I understand it is that menstruation is at the root of the human consciousness, specifically because menstruation cycles had synchronized with the lunar cycle. Grahn’s contention is that practically all elements of any culture goes back to traditional menstrual rites or related blood rites. Men in response created their own metaformic rituals, through their own blood rites. Even things such as warfare, according to Grahn’s theory, relates to menstruation.

Her theory is interesting and definitely something worth thinking about. My gut reaction is that there are several issues with her thesis. The largest contention that I have with her theory is that a binary gender system underlies many of her arguments without her actually addressing why a binary system is the best way to think about the origins of our cultures. Perhaps this contention would be better solved if Grahn used the word “sex” and not the term “gender,” although I am more likely to agree with Judith Butler that even our sexed bodies are inherently gendered constructs. In that sense, I do not think anything we say about bodies is a “natural” fact of human existence. Also, she does not take into account intersex persons. In other words, Grahn’s theory requires more qualification.

Another contention I have is twofold: meta-narratives and origin myths are problematic practices to some extent.  Grahn’s work is a meta-narrative because it offers a comprehensive explanation for historical experience. While it resists our current power structures, it also explains that blood, and therefore, menstrual rituals are at the center of many of our power structures. While I do not think that it is a meta-narrative outright, it does attempt to offer a uniform (ie. homogenous) explanation for human rituals and culture. This is not to say that menstruation is not important to many cultures. What I am saying is that I am not so sure that we can ever have a universal explanation for human cultures.

Now origin myths. What I have noticed is that our cultural instinct is to posit authenticity by moving our political agenda into the past. We are conservative, in this sense. Our political agenda requires a transcendent base, and thus we tend to root it in the past to legitimize it. I am not arguing that our political agendas do not have some root in the past as I think we are limited and shaped by cultural contexts. Menstruation has power and even Judaic texts such as Leviticus 15.19-30 discloses its power: women are to be separated from men and must be confined because the menstrual cycle has the power to subvert the male-dominated social order.

My last contention is that while menstruation is an experience that binds most women together, I wish Grahn would further explain if whether the importance menstruation can also not be an exclusionary practice. What about women who are not old enough, or women who simply menstruate for multiple reasons, what about elderly women who no longer do so? What about transwomen? If I am reading Grahn correctly, metaformic processes are inclusive to some extent. We can all create blood rituals that mimic menstruation. But is there not potential for the practice to also exclude women?

I agree with Grahn’s political goals, which are related to women’s empowerment through questioning the shame of menstruation. Menstruation has political power and that is one of the potentials of Grahn’s thesis.

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