Reclaiming Menstruation: Menstrual Social Movements, Feminist-Spiritualist Menstrual Activism and The Red Tent
Seminar was held at the University of Rijeka on May 10, 2018.
The purpose of this paper is to discover the reasons behind more and more growing need for establishing the Red Tents all over the world. Why many women find it life changing to be heard, witnessed and supported in this way and what kind of consequences does this entail? We will try to understand the role of the Red Tent as a menstrual movement, especially in regards to abolishing the menstrual taboo. We also wish to explore if the reclaiming of sisterhood in women’s spirituality that is being propagated and explored within the Red Tent gatherings, contains political potential beyond the level of mere personal empowerment. There exists a growing curiosity from the side of secular feminism for the neglected, yet critical, and even political potential of spirituality. We will also explore the tensions between the feminist-spiritualists and the radical menstruation activists within the menstrual movements. Some feminist-spiritualists activists regard the menstrual cycle as a criterion for womanhood. However, not all women menstruate (post-menopausal women, athletes etc.) and not only women menstruate (transmen, intersexuals etc.). Inspired by the transgender and genderqueer rights movements and theoretical paradigms, such as feminist philosopher Judith Butler’s idea of gender performativity they challenge essentialist constructions of womanhood. By referring to ‘menstruators’ instead of ‘women,’ activists want to expand menstruation beyond the limitations of gender with the potential to undermine gender as a stable category in the patriarchal two-gender system.”
Polona Sitar has obtained a PhD from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana and a bachelor’s degree in Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology from the Faculty of Arts and also in Communication Sciences from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana. She holds a title Assistant with a doctorate which she received while working at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, at the Institute of Culture and Memory Studies. Her main research interest focuses on anthropology of consumption, gender studies, memory studies and anthropology of postsocialism. In 2017 her first book titled “Not just Bread, Roses too!”: Consumption, Technological Development and Female Emancipation in Socialist Slovenia was published by a leading Slovenian scientific publishing house ZRC SAZU.