Home Political science Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism
Discussions of menstrual sex, for some women, also included the language of menstrual sex as ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’, particularly for women who had sex with men. Sofia (42/Mexican-American/Heterosexual) described menstrual sex as dirty and physically sickening: ‘I heard that you can get sick while you are on your period and you have sex. I worry about the mess we’re making and I know it’s just dirty’. Joyce (21/Filipina/Bisexual) also felt self-conscious about her ‘gross’ body during menstrual sex:
I’m usually reluctant because it’s made some sort of mess. The guy is thinking I’m gross and they don’t want to be around me or they wouldn’t want to have sex with me. I always think guys are disappointed when they find out I’m on my period.
Trish (19/White/Lesbian) described differences between menstrual sex with men and women, claiming that with women it felt necessary and less gross:
With men you can still do it with a tampon in you and even if there’s penetration. It’s interesting and frustrating. It’s mostly a negative experience because your hormones are off balance ... With my dad I joked about getting my ‘red wings’. It’s something I’ve done often with women in part because it has to happen. Otherwise there are two weeks of the month you’re not having sex!
Other women described more emphatic objections to menstrual sex, claiming that it repulsed them. Kathleen (49/White/Heterosexual) described feeling bad about her body during menstrual sex: ‘My body doesn’t feel like it stays as fresh, and my periods are really heavy now and kind of clotty, eew, gross. It just kind of seems gross now’. Corinne (21/ White/Bisexual) described it the most negatively by linking menstrual sex with hating her period in general:
I hate my period. I just want to get the blood out and be done with it. I wear gloves to take my tampons out and stuff. I hate menstrual sex too. I feel like it’s dirty or yucky. My boyfriend likes it but I’m like, ‘that’s gross’ or ‘I just got some on the bed. That’s disgusting. I need to wash the sheets’.
The perceived need to immediately rectify messes, or to feel dirty or gross during menstrual sex, reflected women’s beliefs that they must manage their unruly bodies but also clean the house, fusing bodily and domestic expectations together.
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