Anything you can do… I don’t want to have to do bleeding!

It star­ted with the blee­ding. For Resi and for me and for every con­tri­bu­tor. This pro­ject, which we named “stai­ned- per­spec­ti­ves on mens­trua­tion” in the middle of the year, can be traced back to a see­min­gly simple thing: menstruating.

See­min­gly simple, because mens­trua­tion is usually dis­cus­sed as a uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ence that unites all mens­trua­ting human beings and is iden­ti­cal. The fact that for many people, espe­cially for non­mens­trua­ting per­sons, these and other super­fi­cial assump­ti­ons per­sist in the long term is mainly due to the fact that mens­trua­tion is rarely dis­cus­sed openly. For hardly any other thing is there a wider range of evas­ive terms and embel­li­shing repre­sen­ta­ti­ons, but in the end, all that is and remains is blood flowing from a vagina.
Because of the social stig­ma­tiz­a­tion that in patri­ar­chal struc­tures clings to mens­trual blood, blee­ding from the vagina is some­thing that is expec­ted to hap­pen and to be dis­cus­sed behind clo­sed doors. From people in white cot­ton dres­ses dan­cing through the streets, going out to party with friends or strut­ting to work in heels, to illus­tra­ti­ons of blue liquid on mens­trual pads that are sup­po­sed to “neu­tra­lize” odors or pro­tect against “leakage”, the adver­ti­se­ments of estab­lis­hed mens­trual pro­ducts manu­fac­tu­rers are full of abs­tract repre­sen­ta­ti­ons of periods.

stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani, Photo Credits Vanessa Voigt  (Illustrationen)
stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani, Photo Credits Vanessa Voigt

Photo Credits: Vanessa Voigt

Stop painting blue 

But apart from TV com­mer­cials and out­da­ted school­books, there are more and more mens­trua­ting per­sons who make room to talk bluntly about mens­trua­tion and bring the sub­ject into the public eye. Resi and I star­ted working on our Zine “stai­ned- per­spec­ti­ves on mens­trua­tion” at the begin­ning of the year and with the help of an open call we asked mens­trua­ting people to share their mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces first with us and later with the rea­ders. We tried to limit the form and con­tent of the poten­tial con­tri­bu­ti­ons as little as pos­si­ble to give ever­yone the free­dom to approach the topic as they wish.

stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani Photo Credits Johanna Gläßer

Photo Credits: Johanna Gläßer

Perspectives on menstruation 

The result is a 200-page publi­ca­tion with 51 con­tri­bu­ti­ons from 38 mens­trua­ting per­sons in Ger­man and Eng­lish. The sub­mis­si­ons and response excee­ded our expec­ta­ti­ons many times over. They address aspects such as the first mens­trua­tion, mens­trua­ting at school or at work, con­ver­sa­ti­ons with non-mens­trua­ting per­sons, sex or sports during peri­ods, endo­me­trio­sis and mens­trual pro­blems. Exactly this variety of expe­ri­en­ces is the rea­son why we star­ted the pro­ject in the first place. We wan­ted to collect per­spec­ti­ves on mens­trua­tion in order to demys­tify this topic, to let mens­trua­ting per­sons speak for them­sel­ves and to make visi­ble that the expe­ri­ence of mens­trua­ting is also individual.

stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani Photo Credits Johanna Gläßer

Photo Credits: Vanessa Voigt

Menstruation has no Gender

We share this com­mon ground with all con­tri­bu­tors and the people who made “stai­ned“ pos­si­ble in the first place. Mens­trua­tion is some­thing that con­nects us. It is pos­si­bly our lowest com­mon deno­mi­na­tor. But on clo­ser inspec­tion, it is all the dif­fe­ren­ces that stand out in our mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces and show that they are in fact indi­vi­dual. They are also clo­sely lin­ked to our bio­gra­phy and the pri­vi­le­ges or expe­ri­en­ces of discri­mi­na­tion we have or are expo­sed to. For peri­ods dif­fer not only in the course, con­sis­tency and color of the blood or in the accom­pany­ing sym­ptoms (which, by the way, are all too sel­dom dis­cus­sed and thought about), but also in the way they are trea­ted by our fel­low human beings and the struc­tures in which we move.

Star­ting with the Ger­man Wiki­pe­dia arti­cle on “Mens­trua­tion”, in which it is writ­ten that mens­trua­tion marks the “phy­si­cally fer­tile time in the bio­lo­gi­cal life […] of a woman”, the false assump­tion is still being repro­du­ced that all mens­trua­ting per­sons are women* and all women* are mens­trua­ting. Not only in the arti­cle just men­tio­ned, but also in nume­rous other arti­cles, com­mer­cials, blog posts and pod­casts, the term “women” is used when refer­ring to people who bleed from their vagi­nas more or less regu­larly. This deeply roo­ted lin­gu­is­tic expres­sion, howe­ver, exclu­des- whe­ther con­sciously or uncon­sciously- mens­trua­ting non-binary and trans* per­sons from the dis­course and ensu­res that their mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces are heard and thought about much less often than those of cis women. The­re­fore, one aspect that runs through our ent­ire Zine and has colo­red each of these pages is that mens­trua­tion blood has no Gender.

You stained it!

We believe that every con­tri­bu­tion has chan­ged and shaped our pro­ject in an ini­mita­ble way. “stai­ned” has been tit­led with this expres­sion, as we found two of the nume­rous Ger­man trans­la­ti­ons to be very well fit­ting for our Zine. Because, alt­hough many people still insist that mens­trua­tion belongs hid­den, most mens­trua­ting per­sons make their peri­ods visi­ble in the bloo­d­s­tains they leave behind, for example on the beige seat cushions in the wai­t­ing room or on the ligh­test jeans during math les­son. The fact that the the­ma­tiz­a­tion and con­scious visua­liz­a­tion of mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces con­ti­nues to be stig­ma­ti­zed is ulti­mately reflec­ted in the fear of many mens­trua­ting per­sons of dis­co­lo­ring, “stai­ning” some­thing – whe­ther it is rooms or tex­ti­les – with their own period blood. We would like to cele­brate that we have done it any­way, on 200 pages. You stai­ned it!

stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani Photo Credits Johanna Gläßer

Photo Credits: Vanessa Voigt

We hope that the con­tri­bu­ti­ons will lead to a broa­de­ning of per­spec­tive for some of our rea­ders. For Resi and me, the con­tri­bu­ti­ons have defi­ni­tely hel­ped to broa­den our under­stan­ding of mens­trua­tion. Espe­cially non-mens­trua­ting per­sons can and should be sen­si­ti­zed by the pro­ject to what mens­trua­ting per­sons expe­ri­ence. And perhaps the collec­ted per­spec­ti­ves on mens­trua­tion can lead to fur­ther in-depth dis­cus­sions and rea­listic repre­sen­ta­ti­ons of mens­trua­tion. Because: Anything you can do, I can do blee­ding – but we should not be expec­ted to show the same per­for­mance when we mens­truate. And cer­tainly not that we have to put up with the whole thing on top of it all in silence and without a sound.

Emi­lia

Editor’s note: Editor’s note: We at Vul­vani are proud to be a part of the zine “stai­ned – per­spec­ti­ves on mens­trua­tion” with our arti­cle “Three wis­hes and Free Blee­ding” as well as an image con­tri­bu­tion of our mens­trual art. Thanks for your valu­able and important edu­ca­tio­nal work, dear Resi & Emi­lia! And buy and give away the Zine to dear people in your life, because the final pro­duct is really unique!

stained - Perspektiven auf Menstruation, Zine, Menstruations-Zine, Buch über Menstruation, Magazin über Menstruation, Resi und Emilia, Herzensprojekt, Menstruationserfahrung, book about periods, period magazine, passion project, Geschichten der Menstruation, Menstruationskunst, Illustrationen Blut, Vulvani Photo Credits Johanna Gläßer
Emilia 
menstruations.zine@web.de | Web­site | + posts

Emi­lia (she/her) cur­r­ently lives in Ber­lin and stu­dies jour­na­lism, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and poli­ti­cal sci­ence at the Free Uni­ver­sity of Ber­lin. She initia­ted the pro­ject "stai­ned- Per­spec­ti­ves on Mens­trua­tion" tog­e­ther with The­re­sia and it is an expres­sion of a cri­ti­cal exami­na­tion of the repre­sen­ta­tion of mens­trua­tion in a patri­ar­chal society. At www.stained-zine.de you can purchase the zine and find more infor­ma­tion about the project.