Mothers and daughters at menarche: acknowledging Indigenous contributions to quiet revolution

Moloney, Sharon (2008) Mothers and daughters at menarche: acknowledging Indigenous contributions to quiet revolution. Journal of the Association for Research into Mothering, 10 (2). pp. 112-122.

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In Western, industrialised society, menstruation and birth are commonly seen as unstable, pathological processes requiring medical control. Girls learn to see menstruation as embarrassing and undesirable, and as they grow into young women, find their cyclic variations at odds with a linear economy. Menarche is a nodal event around which girls’ beliefs and attitudes to being female are organised. The perception of menstruation as a liability therefore has foundational implications for future female experiences, particularly childbirth. Both menarche and childbirth are potentially powerful psychological initiations that require the sacrifice of a previous physiological state and sense of identity. Across a range of cultures and times, menstruation and birth have been recognised as transformative spiritual phenomena. Some Indigenous perspectives in particular demonstrate that menstruation can be experienced as sacred blood and a source of authority and power. This article draws on indigenous examples and personal experience to challenge patriarchal norms about menstruation as a liability. Mothers are perfectly placed to gift their daughters with a woman-honouring perspective that affirms their status at menarche as valuable human beings, capable of life-bearing within their bodies. By recounting how I negotiated the passage into menarche with my own daughter, I offer a space for dialogue and reflection contributing to the cultural reform of derogatory attitudes to menstruation and women.

Item ID: 11634
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1488-0989
Keywords: menstruation; women's spirituality; menarche
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2010 23:55
FoR Codes: 22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2299 Other Philosophy and Religious Studies > 229999 Philosophy and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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