One of the Everything I Do Is Wrong ads
Last yeast, the California Milk Processor Board launched an ad campaign “everything I do is wrong,” that focused on apologetic men buying copious amounts of milk because they believe that calcium reduces PMS symptoms. The campaign had two issues. Heterosexism was one. Implying that everyone capable of childbearing becomes a rage-filled, irrational monster before menstruating was another. The second bit got their ads pulled before long.
PMS—or just the possibility of PMS, regardless of the state of someone’s menstrual cycle or whether they ever suffer from PMS—is a common target. It’s the butt of jokes. It’s such a popular excuse for a villain’s behavior that TVTropes has a page titled Menstrual Menace, about supernaturally bad periods and pre-periods.
Fiction impacts reality. No insistence that ‘it was just a joke’ erases the hatred of female bodies behind a comment about menstruating monsters. When somebody asks me if “it’s that time of the month,” they are stating that my emotions are not valid. I am not allowed to be angry because of something I experienced; that’s just my uterus talking. Hillary Clinton is disregarded by sexists nationwide for her status of Uterus Wielder. All the PMS jokes impact how citizens—voters—view her.
All this talk of wombs leading to unrestrained, irrational behavior reminds me of something else. Hysteria. Uteri may have stopped wandering around people’s bodies, but apparently they’re still liabilities and we should never hold positions of power.
Sexists are so assured of the power of PMS that they have invented, and use, an app for tracking the periods of people around them. Why? Societal views on PMS, the ones that fuel ad campaigns and thousands of jokes, impact the people (assumed to have) functional uteri. These people are, at times, frightening. They are irrational and beastly. They are physically marked as Other. They inspire stories of supernatural terrors.
Photo by absolutxman
All the makings of a monster.
In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Theory,” he states: “Through the body of the monster fantasies of aggression, domination, and inversion are allowed safe expression… Escapist delight gives way to horror only when the monster threatens to… destroy or deconstruct the thin walls of category and culture.” A monster upon which the viewer’s own aggression and domineering desires can be projected: sounds like the PMSing significant others of the men in the “everything I do is wrong” campaign.
Periods are not pleasant. I don’t expect anyone to enjoy their periods on a physical level, though some might enjoy the mark of fertility or mark of not-pregnant. But, periods are natural, and they inconvenience nobody more than the person having one. Why are people ashamed of their periods, if not because they believe themselves monsters?