Being one of the pour unfortunate souls who suffers badly from PMT, it struck me this month how seldom it is that I see or hear or periods in the media. It seems like a quarter of my life is spent complaining about my PMT lack of co-ordination, emotional collapse, pains, smells and the various other natural wonders that come with menstruation – but it’s bizarre how infrequently the women of the screen grimace and, at questioning looks, mutter, “Time of the month.” Just this morning I downed a couple of pain killers, and when my male colleague asked if I had a headache I replied, “Monthly problem.” Perhaps there are women for whom their period is a blink-and-miss-it affair, but certainly not for me. Even before I started trying for a baby, my period became something that loomed on the horizon, casting a shadow of dread and the expectation of pain. It has done since I was thirteen, and probably will do well into my forties.
I asked the question on Twitter: Excluding Carrie (Ferral women throwing tampons at a woman menstruating in a shower just isn’t what I’d call a naturalistic depiction) who can name a film where a woman in it has her period. These were the responses:
That Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman film where they’re shagging all the time
In the Cut.
Obviously, my method isn’t flawless – and please do add suggestions – but that seems a very short list. Particularly when you consider the number of films in which women become pregnant. But every pregnancy film I can think of, the woman either finds out through morning sickness (Knocked Up, Juno), or because of a test done while she’s in hospital (Baby Mama). I have to go back to Grease for the immortal words, “I skipped a period.”
It was suggested that a period is one of the mundane and unpleasant facts of life that’s easily omitted from the glamour of the media, like going to the toilet. But people do go to the toilet in films. Even if it’s just for scatological comic effect, there are toilets in film. A man was eaten on one in Jurrasic Park. A woman spends the whole film on one in The Boat the Rocked. And let’s not move on to what happened on the sink and in the street in Bridesmaids! But even in that last fabulous, feminist, estrogen-soaked masterpiece there was nary a tampon, not a hot water bottle to be seen.
So why does this bother me? Well, as I said before, I’m a very unfortunate, pathetic specimen at this time of the month. I spend one week in every four with my head in the shed, in tears or in pain because of menstruation. And just once in a while, it would make me feel better to know that Gwyneth Paltrow gets greasy hair every month, that Liv Tyler has PMT spots, or that Anne Hathaway can’t move without carefully combining codeine and ibuprofen so that she can still function without passing out. I want Jennifer Anniston puking. I want Scarlett Johanson to get a pube caught in a sanitary towel. I want to see the hilarious and tragic things that befall the majority of woman-kind, and I want to be able to smile (laughing would hurt right now, my tummy’s tender) and say, “Shit, I feel your pain, sister!”
And before I wind up, I just have to share this little nugget of the most positive attitude I have ever seen to the blob:
“I see mine as a glorious red trophy of gore. My worshippers have left a blood sacrifice in my knickers in my honour.” - @SaraAnnwyl of Twitter (Thank you!!!)