Monday, March 22, 2010

Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation by Elissa Stein & Susan Kim

In the book Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation Elissa Stein and Susan Kim cover a broad number of menstrual topics: how we talk about it, the history of hysteria, religious views on menstruation. Most of the book is devoted to the growth and influence of what they call the femcare industry. They cover these topics with a great deal of humor. So much so that at times the prose feels forced. They often seem to try to hard to be hip or be funny. I could almost hear the laugh track in the background. Their humor also seemed at odds with their efforts that the topic be treated seriously. In fact I was disappointed at the lack of serious academic history. But do not let these minor quibbles put you off reading this book. It is a light read that you just might enjoy.

I know that it might seem weird that a man would read this book. I have to admit, I was curious. After all, my wife suffers through a period every month. Though never unsympathetic about it, I certainly have much more sympathy for her (and all women) after reading this book. So, perhaps more men should read it.


1 comment:

Julia Schopick said...


It is wonderful to see that some men are interested in reading FLOW. Despite your criticisms - which I do understand - I am glad you found some merit in the book.

I had the pleasure of interviewing co-author Elissa Stein for She was a WEALTH of information. You may listen to the interview here:

Also, to back up FLOW's assertion about the amount of waste caused by throwaway menstrual products, please take a look at this comparison photo from

It shows the amount of waste that is caused by one woman's use of tampons for (a) one month, (b) 1 year, (c) 10 years, and (d) a lifetime.

(HINT: we needed a DUMP TRUCK to show one woman's lifetime use!!)

Again, thanks so much for writing about FLOW. I hope your comments will lead to more men to read this book.

People have been "in the closet" too long about the topic of menstruation.

Julia Schopick