Let's Talk About Red

A friend from my Pentagon days told me that had I started a minstrel museum, rather than menstrual, people would have had black faces, not red ones.

And a visitor yesterday to the museum said that she found that Gonzo products easily remove menstrual blood stains from clothing. Try it!

"On the Destinies of Humanities Majors"

The above phrase entitled this e-mail sent to me recently:

Dear Mr. Finley,

I was surfing the 'Net and happened to stumble on your Web page. First, thanks for having the guts to pursue such a topic. With one exception, all of my friends are guys, and from now on I will refer them to your page when I get my monthly chocolate cravings instead of trying to explain to them the intricacies of the reality of being female.

Also, I'm a senior in high school, and I was expecting to major in philosophy and classics in college. While I think running a museum is something I could live with, please tell me that this is not necessarily my fate as one of those poor humanities majors still paying off loans twenty years after graduating [!].

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'm going to tell my friend to take a visit, since she lives on the East Coast, and get me a postcard [actually, I only have MUM t-shirts right now].

Hey, Gloomy Gus, let's turn that frown upside down!

The writer must have read the second part of the MUM FAQ, in which I explain that starting a museum of menstruation was the only thing left for me to do after having majored in philosophy in college. Of course, I was kidding!

Just imagine thousands of museums of menstruation around the world, run by impractical philosophy majors, vying with each other to show the most pads and underpants and enraging right-wing groups afraid for the future of their countries!

No, you must try something else!

Someone working in a museum in New York told me that many art museum curators she knows were philosophy majors, and I once read that the president of a large, famous corporation, a woman, was a French major, not too different from studying philosophy, when you think about it. And one of my brother's bosses, an Army general, majored in clarinet, of all things. Did he get interested in the military while marching in the halftime band?

This discussion reminds me of the Car Talk Guys' harassment of art history majors on Public Radio. But being put down was never so much fun!

I majored in philosophy to learn if God existed. I left college no more or no less convinced of His existence - I think it's a matter of faith - and feeling that if a lot of very smart people couldn't agree on the answer, how was I supposed to? I feel as if I'm staring in the face of a laughing, but inscrutable, universe - at least, when I'm feeling good. When I'm feeling bad, it's still inscrutable, but whacking you and me with a thick tree branch, or worse.

MUM is not my money-making job. I work for the federal government as a graphic designer - this is not necessarily an oxymoronic, or moronic, situation - a job just as unrelated to philosophy as the ones above. It's hard to be a full-time philosopher. And it's probably not as much fun as running the Museum of - WHAT?! Or as useful!

Where Did Customers Find Personal Digest?

Two weeks ago I put up several leaflets published by Personal Products Company, maker of Modess pads and tampons. I didn't know where customers at the time found them. Maybe this e-mail answers the question:


Thanks for the lastest addition to the Web site . . . as always, a great job!

I remember seeing one such "Personal Digest" and it was in a box of Modess in my mother's dresser drawer. Perhaps it was packaged inside the napkin boxes . . . .

Pads 'n' Ads Revisited

This is hot off the wires:

I was reading your updates, and in regards to the [German] RIA panty pads, you mentioned they were in [German] magazines in 1980. You didn't mention that in the May and June [1980?] issues of many women's magazines, Kotex inserted a FREE Lightdays Oval Pads, and were the first company to place a feminine hygiene product sample for the public in a magazine. [TV] blasted [you] with commercials to find "your sample in your favorite magazine." I remember, because I bought a magazine to see one of the pads close up!

Speaking of firsts, a visitor to MUM today said that only recently has American television shown the armpit of a model when selling armpit deodorant! Normally the viewer would see the actor applying deodorant to her forearm.What's so naughty about an armpit?

And this reminds me of a recent TV ad for a hemorrhoid medication, which shows a woman sitting on an examination table buttoning her blouse. She took her blouse off to be examined for hemorrhoids? The more truthful situation, of course, is for her to be zipping up her pants, but that would mean that the doctor had looked at her hiney, something so outrageous and unpalatable to the imagined audience as to be truly left field. Like America. Sometimes.

Readers Talk More About Instead and Keeper Menstrual Cups

Here's a point for Instead:

I have tried The Keeper and Instead. No matter what I do with The Keeper, it is painful to insert, nearly impossible to rotate, which probably leads to the next problem - it leaks. I will be returning it.

Although Instead is more expensive and is not biodegradable, I tried it and it is absolutely wonderful. A cinch to insert, doesn't leak, can't feel it . . . .

I wish I had the capability of crossing the design of Instead with the material The Keeper is made of - the best of both worlds would truly be the answer (or at least another option!).

And another for The Keeper:

A few months ago I ordered a Keeper and I was ecstatic about finding something that was not harmful to the environment and not a danger to my health. Because I am one of the unfortunate women out there that has difficulty wearing tampons, it took me a few weeks to be able to insert it. When I finally managed to insert it, I thought I had dropped it because I could not feel it inside my body. When I reached down and felt the tab I got so excited I ran downstairs in my pj's to tell my mother [!]. The only downside to The Keeper is that it is a bit messy and I usually have to wear a panty liner the first few days, depending on how heavy my flow is. I have only had it for a few months and I am sure after a bit more practice I'll have the problem stopped. Best of luck to all those future Keeper users and a hearty hurray to those who have it already!

And, again, for Instead:

Dear Mr. Finley,

I stumbled onto your site . . . and . . . I hope your site is on the up and up, because I found it interesting.

About the new cup, Instead: I recently discovered it in Walgreen's in San Francisco. I bought it because it intrigued me. I had never seen a menstrual cup before, although I have read about them. I live in Florida and had never seen it on the market here.

Instead was interesting. It did exactly as promised. There was no pain or sensation of being there when properly inserted. However it DOES TAKE AWHILE to insert properly when you first start out. And there is a little PANIC trying to remove it the first few times. However, overall, I was pleased. I'm going to keep practicing.

Read more of your comments about menstrual cups, and about the history of cups.

She Tossed Away the Tassaway - Except One!

The phone line delivered this e-mail two weeks ago, before the disk crash:

I tried Tassaway [menstrual cup] when it came out in the sixties; I was in my teens. They were horrible. I had to do practically do a vaginal D & C to remove one because of the seal that formed. And the smell was gross. I kept the last one, still wrapped, as a souvenir. Perhaps it has some market value? [I'm not sure. Both Tambrands and Dr. Philip Tierno, Jr., of New York University Medical Center, a member of the board of this museum, sent MUM boxes of Tassaways. I'm now interested in getting the original (not the 1959 version) Tassette menstrual cup, from about 1939. Does anyone have one, or any literature about it?]

I recall a book on the subject of menstrual products coming out around the time of the first TSS scare. The author concluded by describing a woman she had met who claimed her vaginal muscles were so well-developed she didn't need any menstrual product; she could retain her menstrual fluid and expel it when convenient. The author's closing sentence was "I'm still practicing." I have my doubts.

The implications of having vaginal muscles so strong demand discussion! But not here.

Calling All Menstrual Painters, I

A recent visitor to the museum left this request:

I am creating a show on menstruation and menopause, and looking for work in all media. It can be from a spiritual, cultural, personal, or historical perspective.

The show runs 9 - 19 April 1998 at the Pentucket Arts Center, Haverhill, Massachusetts (U.S.A.).

As soon as you can, contact Amy Shutt, Bradford College, Box 511, Bradford, MA 01835 (U.S.A.). Phone: (978) 469-1323, or e-mail: ashutt@bnet.bradford.edu

I need your work or proposals as soon as possible!

Calling All Menstrual Painters, II!

And here's another request:

Hi, I'm a student from Australia trying to contact some feminist artists who use menstrual blood as a medium - are you able to help me out? It would be much appreciated.

laura : alra.editors@adelaide.edu.au


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© 1998 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute this work in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. E-mail: hfinley@mum.org