Happy Saturday, everyone! So, although it’s technically Thursday… let’s just pretend it’s Thursday for another edition of our Throwback Thursdays! What a better way to enjoy a Saturday than reading some beautiful poetry by some beautiful ladies. We hoped you liked last Thursday’s post, and if you haven’t gotten a chance to read it, check it out here!
As part of the celebration for our new online home this year, we’ve started featuring a selection of some of our favorite pieces from previous print issues of our magazine. Each piece has been selected by a member of our Editorial Council, who’ve been kind enough to tell us why they love it (and why they hope you will, too). If this week’s choice or any others leave you wanting more—and we hope they do—be sure to check out the full version of our latest issue, now available online under that “Our Current Issue” tab you’ll find above.
This week, the featured piece was chosen by Taylor, and is titled Encyclopedia Red: BECOMING A WOMAN, by Corinne Duffy. Here is what she has to say about it:
Encyclopedia Red: BECOMING A WOMAN is unlike anything The Laughing Medusa—or likely any other publication on campus—has ever published. The unconventional but ingenious format of the piece lends itself to humor and striking authenticity. Ultimately, the 28 encyclopedic entries of the “feminist menstrual-festo” form one of the most relatable works of nonfiction I have ever read about womanhood and what it realistically means to suddenly “become a woman.”
Read on for the full piece:
Encyclopedia Red: BECOMING A WOMAN
menstruation: periodic discharge from the vagina of blood, secretions, and disintegrating
mucous membrane that had lined the uterus.
… But Encyclopædia Britannica does not have a page dedicated solely to
menarche: an individual’s first period, her inaugural—and emotional—ovulatory cycle.
Enshrouded in layers of stuffy cotton, it’s a societal taboo to discuss the blood in the water; it’s an uncomfortable ellipsis left separating childhood from adulthood. For a tweenage girl, it’s the end of the world even as it is the beginning.
To honor the sanctity of the 28-day cycle, 28 women shared the story of their own pivotal—and traumatic—entry into womanhood, divulging the psychological as well as the physiological. This is their collective feminist menstrual-festo, their biological bildungsroman.
1: I got it in like third or fourth grade—super early—and it was a Thursday morning, I
remember, because we always had church on Thursdays. I woke up and wiped and there was blood, so I told my mom and she goes, “Either you are bleeding from trying too hard to poop, or you got your period.” And I was like, “Oh no, no, no, NO.” So she said I could stay home from school and eventually we realize that yes, it was my period, and I absolutely lost it, throwing a tantrum and refusing to leave the basement. And I kept crying, and my mom tried to comfort me and I said, “I would rather DIE than have my period.” And my mom was like, “Honey, that’s so dramatic, you do not want to die.” And I said, “No, no, I’ll die, take me today, I don’t want this.” I spent the rest of the day researching how to insert a tampon in The Care and Keeping of You. I was the first one to get my period though so at my friend’s fifth grade birthday party I demonstrated how to insert a tampon for everyone. It was a lot—I really put my vagina on display out there—but I’m all about women’s public education. – K
2: I woke up late and had to go to my saxophone lesson, and then I went to pee and realized I had gotten it, and then I was even MORE late to my lesson. And then on my second period I bled through my black, velour pants onto my seat in orchestra. And one time I fell asleep on a flight from D.C. to Switzerland and woke up in a pool of my own blood—that was like two years ago, I should’ve been better at it by then. – C
3: I was wearing light-wash jeans and bled around my pad so it looked like I had a sunset on my ass. – M
4: At the library during summer like a fucking nerd. I refused to use tampons for like two years. – J
5: Summer before sixth grade. Gas station bathroom on a trip to Washington, D.C. Earth
shattering, but also nbd. – K
6: I was on a boat in the Galápagos Islands, I was seasick in the bathroom, and the boat was rocking back and forth, and the shower water had overflowed and was swishing around the bathroom floor, and I got my period for the first time. Except, because we were in the middle of nowhere there was no access to pads or tampons, so I used toilet paper for a week. Good times.
7: I got my period in Ibiza—to say the least it wasn’t cool. I was alone with German family friends on holiday in Spain, and I had to learn how to put a tampon in without 1) a tampon applicator (goddamn Europeans) or 2) any prior knowledge of where my vagina was located. – C
8: Literally on the Tower of Terror at Disneyland Paris. I had to learn how to put a tampon in using French instructions. It was terrible, but I was successful. – L
9: There is no worse manual than the Tampax manual. – H
10: Soccer practice. Fell over inside the Porta Potty trying to figure out how to insert a tampon. –E
11: It was the day before I was supposed to go to a water park, and I was mortified of wearing a tampon. My girl friends and I spent so long brainstorming the excuse I was going to give to my guy friends because, obviously, I didn’t want the boys to know. – C
12: I thought that once you got your period, you had it forever—like constantly—until
menopause. So when I got it for the first time at the end of eighth grade I was like, “Whoomp! There it is. No more swimming for me.” – S
13: I was at our lake house and had it for like three days but didn’t know what it was until my mom saw and taught me how to put down a pad. So my dad takes all of us out on the boat and asks if I want to go swimming, but I have a pad in my swimsuit, mind you, so I decline, and my dad decides to throw me out of the boat anyway, as a joke. – J
14: I got it at my distant aunt’s Christmas Eve party, and my parents weren’t there so when I finally got home my mom panicked and sent my dad to CVS. He didn’t know what to buy so he bought $300 worth of pads, adult diapers, and tampons. – A
15: My mom forced me to tell my dad the night that it happened. Still not totally sure why. –T
16: My dad brought home cake because he felt bad for me. It was a traumatizing time—still is, tbh. – Y
17: I saw blood in the toilet, and I was like, “Dad—I just got my period.” And he was like,
“What? Are you okay?” But I didn’t respond and instead just sprinted out the door and went to school with NO period products. So I just stuffed toilet paper in my underwear all day. And then for the next four days my dad kept asking me if I felt okay. Classic dad move. – E
18: I got mine at 13, and mom called everyone in the family to tell them. Dad gave me a high five, and the next day he took me to the Marlins home opener to celebrate instead of taking me to school. It became a tradition: I never missed a home opener from then on all through high school. – A
19: When my father found out he started crying. That summer when I went to Puerto Rico my grandmothers and aunts made a huge thing of it, and my grandfather wouldn’t let my feet touch the floor at night without slippers and only allowed me to wash my hair before sundown because he said otherwise I would ruin my future fertility cycle. – M
20: It was New Years Eve—Year of the Tampon, I guess. I was in eighth grade, late bloomer. I got it and my mom freaked out and immediately started calling all my family members to tell them, including those who live in Puerto Rico. I got so embarrassed that I went to my bedroom and started crying and didn’t even know why I was crying. The blood was flowing, the tears were flowing, and that was my first experience with PMS. –A
21: I have all brothers—no sisters—so I didn’t even know what menstruation was before my first cycle. I thought I was dying; my parents took me to the ER only for the doctor to tell me, “Honey, you just got your first period.” – S
22: I thought I had cut myself somehow, so I told my mom that we had to go to the doctor
immediately. She just laughed at me. – K
23: I didn’t tell my mom for three months because I was afraid—she kept telling me she was going to throw me a “Period Party.” So my friend kept having to sneak me pads during school. Anyway, one day my older sister comes down and is all like, “I’m a woman! I have my period now,” and she pissed me off so much that I said, “Well I’ve been a woman for three months!” My mom got so mad that she didn’t talk to me for three days. – L
24: I was in sixth grade. I got in on a Friday morning before school and cried because I was embarrassed. My mom was so excited, classic. She was all like, “I’m going to bring you a special lunch today to celebrate!” – J
25: I wasn’t sure whether I was putting the tampon in correctly, so I asked my mom, and she yanked on the string to make sure. It was a really intimate, mother-daughter bonding moment. The umbilical cord reimagined, or something. – K
26: Mother’s Day when I was 12. I remember looking in the toilet and being like … I can bear children. How poetic, Mother’s Day. – M
27: I just recall having this distinct feeling of, “Welp, this is it: I’m a woman now.” – T
28: I had no fucking clue what was going on. I was in seventh grade, and Ally was in high school but came to pick me up after school and gave me a card that said, “CONGRATS ON
BECOMING A WOMAN!” – M