"Period: The End of Menstruation?" Screening
December 4, 2007
"Period: The End of Menstruation?"
Tuesday, December 4
11:30 - Regina Peruggi Room - Marymount Manhattan College
"It explores the idea of suppressing the menstrual period but leaves the viewer to make up her own mind." - New York Times
"The debate here is rich and varied. ... An interesting documentary on that time of the month that is definitely recommended." - Video Librarian
"Chesler offers a dialogue here that is relentlessly intelligent, ecumenical, and profoundly sensitive to the varying perspectives of women and girls who must ultimately make their own menstrual choices." - Bust Magazine
"There is often a cloud of shame and guilt shading menstruation that prevents open dialogue. Chesler has lifted that cloud..." - Sex Roles
As millions of women and girls take shots and pills to stop their periods, the meaning of menstruation changes. The current marketing trend in hormonal birth control (Depo-Provera, Seasonale, Seasonique, Lybrel, Anya), is to attract customers by promising freedom from monthly periods. For many consumers, menstrual suppression eliminates painful monthly flow, giving them more control in their lives. For others, menstrual suppression represents a frightening shift in thinking about the human body and another dangerous experiment on womanís health. Period: The End of Menstruation? interrogates the cultural and medical side effects of suppression before 'the curse' disappears.
Director / Producer Giovanna Chesler utilizes methods of direct cinema, cinema verite, and poetic construction to construct her 16mm film. Giovanna and her crew met with over 50 participants around the United States to understand the variety of viewpoints on this complex topic. Period highlights these health practitioners, cultural critics, artists, activists. Several of these individuals impact the future of menstruation trends while others are directly affected by these trends. Some see menstruation as an essential element of the female body and experience. Others believe that menstruation is not necessary. One doctor extols the benefits of Seasonale, a pill designed to allow only four bleeding episodes each year (which generated $50 million in sales in one year.) Another participant explains that hormonal suppressants can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis in young women. Side effects include depression, cardiac ailments, blood clots, break through bleeding and loss of libido.
Period equates the experiences and opinions of every day Americans to medical knowledge. Women and men of diverse ethnic communities, of varying sexual orientations are included in the film alongside the health practitioners and theorists. We meet an African American woman in San Diego who was so troubled by her period that she chose to have a hysterectomy at age 33, We see a white urban professional in her late 20ís getting a shot of Depo Provera. She tells us that she has not menstruated in three years. However, a transman living in New York City chooses to keep his period and claims it as part of his masculinity, and an artist in San Francisco paints with her menstrual blood.
What is healthy and normal? What is female and private? What is natural?
Period addresses these complex questions and more. Period: The End of Menstruation? makes a taboo subject visible and audible, serving as a beginning to much needed public conversation and bringing attention to a pressing womenís health issue that affects millions of menstruators on a national and global scale.