Status passage, stigma and menstrual management: 'Starting' and 'being on'

Newton, Victoria (2012). Status passage, stigma and menstrual management: 'Starting' and 'being on'. Social Theory & Health, 10(4) pp. 392–407.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/sth.2012.13

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to examine and analyse the different discourses acting on the menstruating body and influencing the ways in which women experience and manage menstruation, on a personal level as well as collectively. The article is thus concerned with menstrual etiquette and the societal norms informing how menstruation is managed. It offers an observational and theoretical interpretation of the practical aspects of menstrual management with reference to the sociological concept of a ‘status passage’ (Glaser and Strauss) and theories of impression management and stigma (Goffman). It also discusses the learnt processes of body watching and menstrual control and supports on the basis of ‘real-life’ accounts given by research participants. The theoretical framework of the article provides a way to move forward discussions about the historical and medical construction of menstruation by discussing how it is managed as an ‘everyday’ bodily process.

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