Why is Period-Porn So Rare? An Explanatory Mess
(basis for a talk given at the World Pornography Conference, August 8, 1998)

I have always believed that the truth is simple. This may be a product of my desire to know the truth and my inability to understand anything that is not simple.
Fred Feldman, Preface, Doing the Best We Can

I'm convinced that the truth is never simple, that instead, reality is an awful mess. But I've grown to believe that reality can nonetheless take care of itself, and to feel comfortable with its messiness. Of course, I still don t believe that I'll ever know the truth.

Fundamentally, my topic here is explanation in the social sciences and how it ought to be a messy business. I will begin by trying to persuade you that the question of my title is interesting, that is, that it deserves an explanation. Eventually, I want to argue that the question is not interesting, or at least not as interesting as I'll initially try to persuade you it is; and finally, that the question's not being (so) interesting is itself interesting. I'll argue all that eventually, but I won't get there in this paper.

What I'll concentrate on here is presenting results of preliminary data-gathering and hypothesis formation, i.e., I'll give you some anecdotes and guesses. But I have a lot of anecdotal evidence, and some really good guesses. If I'm successful, I'll persuade others to do better than I have with the bigger questions.

In the course of my research on sexuality and the law, I've become interested in what the varieties of pornography can tell us about how sexual (ab)normality is defined. If some kinds of porn are relatively rare (or nonexistent), then that should also yield some sort of information about norms (perhaps in some cases in the way that funhouse mirrors tell us about those reflected in them). So far as I can tell, there are just two aspects of human beings that are extremely rare in pictorial pornography: vomiting and menstruation.[1]

It is of course difficult to get reliable data about products that live in a twilight zone between legality and illegality. But I have consulted with a variety of people who have deep, long-standing vocational or avocational interests in pornography, and they all confirm the extreme rarity of puke- and period-porn. (I'm always careful to explain the nature of my interest, and I stress that I am neither particularly attracted nor repelled by the prospect of period-porn, which at least makes it a bit more likely that I'll get full, honest responses, though many enthusiasts are simply glad to talk about their special interest with anyone not overtly hostile.[2]) The results of extensive web-searches in several European languages, including slang terms, are consistent with the latter, as well. Assuming that every video I have seen described actually exists, there are probably no more than forty such sold web-wide. It's been suggested to me that lesbian-made lesbian pornography might be expected to at least show some aspects of menstruation, but I've not been able to find any titles or track down any examples; given how little lesbian-made pornography there is, however, the existence of lesbian period-porn would not change the numbers much.

A common, unthinking first reaction to the topic of period-porn is, "Of course there's not much. That's disgusting!" But given that so much that is often found disgusting is eroticized in readily available pictorial porn [including golden (urine) and brown (feces) showers, driven only slightly underground by obscenity law as typically interpreted], one can't explain the relative rarity of these two types of porn simply by noting that many find vomitus, vomiting, menstruation and menstrual blood disgusting. Besides, there are those who fetishize vomiting or menstruation, the former sometimes as part of BDSM, the latter sometimes as part of BDSM blood play and sometimes also as members of the Vampyre/Goth subculture.[3] In addition, some prostitutes report having clients who are neither BDSM nor Vampyre blood-play enthusiasts and who prefer to have sex with them while they are menstruating. Nor are all women unreceptive to sex during menstruation. Some report increased arousal surrounding and even during their periods, where a further incentive for having sex during periods may be the relief from cramps that orgasm provides some women. But urine and feces fetishes are better represented in pictorial porn than are periods. Even necrophilia enjoys (suffers?) a higher profile [see http://www.necrobabes.com/, the present home (mortuary?) for the contents of the now-defunct blackplague.org site].[4] And aside from fetishes, some men and women have a rather neutral attitude towards menstrual fluid, their primary concern being not to stain the sheets, etc.[5]

One recurrent theme in postings to Bianca's Smut Shack-The Flow Forum, and in postings to the flowlovers forum (just a year and a half or so in existence), is the origin of menstrual fetishes in early adolescent male fascination with secrecy surrounding female relatives' periods. Since the vast majority of males have some acquaintance with this aspect of their female relatives, one needs to know more before the fetish can be accounted for, and on this score one might reasonably wonder why it is not more common. A recurrent complaint in the postings is the difficulty of finding period-porn, and there are consequently frequent requests to trade pictures in private collections.

It might be of some significance that showing menstrual blood is sometimes part of a political or religious statement intended to discourage disgust or encourage pride. Some goddess cults treat the blood and/or the process as sacred.[6] In Annie Sprinkle's Sluts and Goddesses Workshop, she smears herself with menstrual blood to help encourage acceptance of menstruation as normal, or supernormal (holy). One of the sketches in The Kathy and Mo Show is about taking pride in being on the rag, with the characters giving congratulatory high-fives to those with really heavy flows. Even Stephen King's Carrie links menstrual blood with mythic power, as well as with shame. To the extent that menstrual blood represents power, it may also be seen as threatening. But again this can't be the whole story, since sexual assertiveness by women is plausibly seen as more threatening (though it is also welcomed by many) and there's no shortage of its depiction in pornography.

One might guess that showing vomiting is less popular because it is a clear signal of an abnormal state (though it might also be described as a normal response to ingestion of a potential toxin) and, more important, the sights and sounds might themselves be nauseating.[7] Since menstruation is normal, this guess won't explain its rarity in porn. True, the appearance of blood often signals injury (or treatment for a disorder), and to that extent is associated with abnormal states, but there's plenty of (eroticized) blood in mainstream media. Furthermore, contemporary American society does talk about menstruation, albeit somewhat gingerly, and certainly does not embrace the extreme taboos of some societies described in the anthropological literature (which may also exaggerate the extent of some of those taboos). In the collection of humor pieces, Body Talk: My Life as a Woman ,[8] there is a 15-page section, "On the Rag," which is as much about PMS as about other aspects of menstruation, one of the writers remarks on how much more open American society is than it was even twenty years ago in its talk about menstruation. It's not likely that a selection of humorous essays, poems and cartoons would have been published on this topic then.[9]

I want also to stress that we miss a big part of the puzzle if we focus on fetish. I find it at least as, if not more, puzzling that a process that occurs so often during most female performers' on-camera years would be nearly invisible. For that reason, this paper is slightly out of place in a symposium on fetishes (though I don't fault the conference's organizers for that - I'm glad that they found somewhere to put such an unusual topic).

A factual question to which I m attempting to find an answer is, Is there more non-American than American period-porn? For example, is European or especially Japanese-produced porn more likely to show menstrual blood? My preliminary information is that at least in Europe, period-porn is also relatively rare. Since the Japanese tend to be less squeamish about bodily effluents than Europorn- or (especially) Ameriporn-producing societies, period-porn may have a greater presence there. Even the [recently (post-1993) moderated] Japanese prohibition on showing adult genitals would not prevent showing or selling, say, bloody panties, tampons or pads.

While some porn performers who are menstruating may not be feeling their best, not all will feel badly, some experience increased arousal, and anyway some discomfort is generally not much of a barrier to performance (in pornographic or other movies, judging from reports of anal sex in the former and other kinds of stunts in the latter).

Are there inhibiting technical difficulties in showing periods? Menstrual blood does not yield a "red shower ," so it is more difficult to show than golden or brown showers, but it is not much more difficult to show, and the difficulties can certainly be overcome (in fact, they have been overcome in the extant videos).

One leading authority on mainstream pornography says that the "adult" entertainment industry is (still) dominated by the sensibilities of middle-aged, white, Jewish males, and since they're not period fans, there's not much period-porn. But this can't be a good explanation overall, since the same point would hold for the more common golden and brown showers porn, as well as many other kinds of fetish porn, much of which exists outside the mainstream.

Another highly knowledgeable adult video reviewer suggested that since sex is for procreation, on-screen sex is best when there is no visible barrier to pregnancy, and so showing sex during menstruation is especially unattractive. On this view menstruation is, perhaps, taken to be a sign of failure to fulfill natural purpose, - a kind of sociobiological update of Thomism or other medieval Catholic theology - and so is perceived as abnormal, and akin to vomiting. Perhaps this idea has some merit, but unless the supposed perception of abnormality is very powerful among the vast majority of viewers, this can t be the whole story. Evolutionary explanations typically do not reach the level of individual actions, but aim instead to provide plausible arguments for the existence of biological mechanisms that would tend to encourage (or discourage) certain types of adaptive (or non-adaptive) behavior. So even if an evolutionary account could be worked out, one would still need to explain the mechanism by which it works in individuals.[10]

Producers fear of prosecution under obscenity law can't be the explanation either since female ejaculation porn is easily available above ground and it, like period-porn, depicts normal function. (Given the continuing controversy about the chemical constitution of female ejaculate and the often supposed unusualness of such ejaculation, period porn would even seem more normal, legally speaking than female ejaculation porn.)

Can psychoanalysis help? Usually, the best source of psychoanalytic explanations is Freud himself; he often has more to offer than many of his little helpers. He does have a great deal to say about taboos and about the development of sexual fetishes, though little explicitly about menstruation. In the course of his critique of competing theories, he asserts that fetishes are grounded in experiences that occur very early in childhood, well before the age of six. Perhaps infants and toddlers are sensitive to the sights and smells of motherly menstruation, but that seems unlikely, though it would be an interesting matter for empirical investigation (who says psychoanalytic theory is untestable!). For a Freudian, then, the problem may be to explain why there is any menstrual fetish at all.[11]

John Money develops the idea of a lovemap in his writings and applies them to paraphilias [most recently in his Principles of Developmental Sexology, Chapter 16, "Paraphilic Lovemaps' (Continuum, 1997) 242-260]. He offers a classificatory scheme for paraphilic lovemaps:

Despite their number and variety, paraphilic lovemaps can be classified into seven categories according to the criterion of the seven stratagems, or trickeries, by which lust has not been forfeited. Conjointly, love has not been sacrificed to lust's defilement, but has been separated or dissociated from it.
The seven are:

Sacrifice and expiation
Marauding and predation
Mercantilism and venality
Fetishism and talismanism
Stigmatism and eligibility
Subrogation and understudy
Solicitation and allure

If it fits anywhere in this scheme, a special interest in menstruation would seem to be fetishistic or talismanic:

The fetishistic/talismanic strategem requires the defilement of lust be displaced totally or in part from a person onto a substitute fetish object or substance which represents a smell (olfactophilia) or a textured feel (hyphephilia) of the living human body. (252)
Paraphilic fetishism or talismanism is related to the olfactory and tactual (haptic) phylisms of parent-infant pairbonding. The smelly or touchy stimulus becomes detached from the person onto a nonliving substance, artifact or object. (254)

The emphasis on smell and touch echoes some of Freud's remarks, and raises similar questions about the plausiblity. And while it may sometimes be true that "to classify is to explain," this classificatory scheme does not seem to help with the question of relative rarity.

In his remarks on sexual taboo, Money says,

The elimination taboo applies to restrictions on where and under what circumstances and in whose presence one may urinate, defecate, menstruate or give birth or dispose of the products thereof. ... To achieve maximum efficacy, a taboo must be introduced early in childhood, with conformity required consistently.
Adolescent rebellion against the sexual taboo is one way of retaliating against authority and asserting autonomy. (27)

It is a commonplace that some of pornography's attraction stems from its taboo status, and there's probably a good deal to this. Although there is a weakened (and still weakening) set of taboos associated with menstruation in current American society, and this may have diminished any prior thrill of menstrual sex and period porn, the inhibitions and prohibitions seem prevalent enough to keep it fairly exciting in this way. Certainly, other things being equal, it is "naughtier" to show bloody sex than to show blood-free sex. So if taboo status is exciting, one might expect more rather than less period-porn than, say, golden showers videos. As noted above, some couples do not fetishize menstrual sex and so regard it as nothing special, their only concern being to bring a few extra towels to prevent staining.

Julia Kristeva writes about the role of menstrual blood in the development of ego identity:[12]

While they always relate to corporeal orifices as to so many landmarks parceling-constituting the body's territory, polluting objects fall, schematically, into two types: excremental and menstrual....
Excrement and its equivalents (decay, infection, disease, corpse, etc.) stand for the danger to identity that comes from without: the ego threatened by the non-ego, society threatened by its outside, life by death. Menstrual blood, on the contrary, stands for the danger issuing from within the identity (social or sexual); it threatens the relationship between the sexes within a social aggregate and, through internalization, the identity of each sex in the face of sexual difference.

About this passage, Elizabeth Grosz comments:[14]

As Kristeva readily acknowledges, the horror of menstruation is not straightforwardly connected to the ambiguities of sexual difference. In fact, menstruation does not differentiate male from female. Rather, it marks the difference between men and mothers. The horror of menstruation serves to tie women into a (presumedly natural) maternity without acknowledging women's sexual specificity, a residual femininity unrepresented by maternity.
The horror of menstrual blood, the living matter which helps to produce and sustain life, is a refusal of the expelled link between the mother and the foetus, a border, as it were, between one existence and another that is not the same as nor yet separate from it. In psychoanalytic theory this perhaps is too easily explained by women's castration rather than seen as a threatening boundary or threshold between life and non-life, between male and female. It marks the site of an unspeakable debt of life (an umbilical debt) that both the subject and culture owe to the mother but can never repay.
For Kristeva, abjection testifies to a break (between subject and the corporeal) and a merger (of self and other). It is a resistant, dangerous merger/rupture within symbolic psychical identity which can never be covered over. (76)

I have quoted these passages at length because there does seem to be something interesting suggested, but I can t tell quite what it is. Like other theorists of disgust, Kristeva finds in the disgusting a threat to psychologically and physically important boundaries. She also emphasizes the gendered nature of menstrual fluid, noting that it is not simply blood, literally or symbolically; she appears to say that it has a special bearing on the way that a male child distinguishes himself from his mother. And she may also mean to indicate that there are elements of both attraction and repulsion in the horror of menstrual fluid. But how these elements (if they are really there) are put together, and how they might help us to explain the rarity of menstrual fetishists, relative to golden and brown showers enthusiasts, remains profoundly unclear to me. I must therefore, regretfully, leave it to Kristeva scholars to tell me whether she has found the solution to our puzzle.[15]

So, why is period porn so rare? Is menstruation especially disgusting? especially disturbing in some other way? Why? Or are the reasons more closely associated with the showing of menstruation (rather than with menstruation itself)? If so, what are the reasons, and why should they attach primarily to the depiction rather than to what is depicted?

Correspondence with Professor Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania and his fellow researchers on disgust (e.g., Professors Jon Haidt, Clark McCauley) indicates that they, too, find puzzling the seeming relative rarity of period-porn. I ve also corresponded with James Ridgeway, Susie Bright, Bobby Lilly, Carol Leigh, Priscilla Alexander, David Steinberg, Nick Long, Tracy Quan, Michelle LD,[16] Jim Holliday, Patrick Riley, Jen Durbin, and Professors Judith Butler,[17] Naomi McCormick, Katherine Dettwyler,[18] Thomas Buckley,[19] Elizabeth Allgeier, Vern Bullough,[20] John Bancroft,[21] and William I. Miller,[22] but none of them was able to offer an explanation, helpful as their comments were. I've not yet heard from Professors Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Alma Gottleib, Tom McIlvenna, Kathleen O'Grady, nor from Stephanie Harzewski, Carol Queen, Danielle Willis, Cuir Underground or Amelia G. at Blue Blood.

Why mention the preceding history of failure? Here's an apt story about the late, great physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman was giving an advanced graduate seminar at Cal Tech one afternoon and began by asserting that a certain mathematical equation had exactly six types of solutions, which he then wrote on the board. After a while, one of the postdocs who was sitting in summoned up enough courage to challenge Feynman: "Dr. Feynman, there's no known mathematical method for showing that those are the only six kinds of solutions. How do you know those are the only ones?" With characteristic candor and immodesty, Feynman replied, "Well, I thought and thought and thought for months, and these were the only six I could come up with." Alas, I'm no Richard Feynman, but I have sought help with my quandary from these aforementioned smart, well-informed people, and they haven't been able to come up with what they regard as good answers either. In fact, they seem as puzzled as I am. So there's a strong inductive argument that there's something worth investigating here.

Is there an obvious explanation that's been missed by me and all these folks? Or is there an explanation that combines the aforementioned factors in a persuasive way?

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

My guess is that there's a lesson in this about the overvaluing of simplicity of explanation in the social sciences. Even highly trained thinkers tend to think that simpler explanations are more powerful, and many assert this as if it were a truism. (Maybe on some interpretations it is a truism - but then it's probably not worth asserting.) I doubt it. The puzzle of period porn will go away when we accept the fact that it's a mess of factors that account for its rarity, and when we figure out what the relative weights of those factors are. First, however, we have to learn more. Please let me know what you come up with:



... the earliest period videos that I am aware of were produced in the mid seventies by Kellie Everts. While most of these weren't specifically period themed or sold into a "period" market they did include some fairly explicit (and probably not faked) period footage. The general theme was female superiority and/or domination and would include some watersports and period footage....
The first videos that I am aware of that were specifically marketed to the "period" market were indeed in the Golden Fantasies series starring a girl named Cindy. I'm not sure when they were produced but I first became aware of them in approximately 1986. The period footage of Cindy was appended to a Cindy solo watersport video series and there were separate order numbers for the watersport video and the video with the appended footage. As I recall they sold for the same price but the distributor wanted to make sure that nobody got the offending period footage unless they explicitly wanted it. I believe the original distributor was a company named Raysco. Later this series was available from a company called MRM out of Chicago. MRM is still in business but Raysco is long gone due to legal troubles. There is a company called Raysco on the Patches website that carries many of the original Raysco titles but I don't think this is the original Raysco. I think I have all the Cindy period tapes and I may even have some original Raysco catalogs.
... two interesting items relating to the Cindy series.
First, they were not available in Texas, I believe Cindy lived there and did not want to be recognized. I have seen some recent pics of her on the web and I think she has her own website with an entirely different theme than period and watersports.
Secondly, there was another company in the late eighties out of upstate New York called Superlive Productions that carried most of the Raysco and Golden Fantasy series but did not carry the period versions at all, despite handling very explicit scat and enema stuff.


This is a brief summary of the little I found during extensive searches during the past four years. Although this may seem like a fair amount, it is miniscule compared to what's readily available for, say, golden or brown showers.

The largest repository of information used to be the archive for Bianca's Smut Shack - The Flow Forum [http://bathroom.bianca.com/shack/bathroom/flow/], which contains several megabytes of postings from the past two years. Although many postings are discussions of how best to deal with menstrual cramps, PMS or how to find favored "feminine products ," many of the postings, amounting to several hundred kilobytes, are exchanges between men and women sharing their sexual fascination with many aspects of menstruation.

The premiere web site is now the Flowlovers Forum (see below), with its video reviews by Big Tunaman, links to pro-am web sites, Model of the Month, vast picture and video archives, menstruation stories, as well as the Heavy Flow and Period Links Bulletin Boards.

The Museum of Menstruation (http://www.mum.org/) contains a great deal of relevant information, as well as some pictures of used feminine products , but nothing about period-porn. Nor does the museum's curator, Harry Finley, know of the latter.

There are some web sites that offer period-porn, with pictures, (two of the earliest site URLs boldfaced): 

http://www.pukie.com/ [site down]
http://www.sexa.com/dirtypanties/ [site down]

Other web sites with related material:

http://www.mother-productions.com/ (Rag Time Red #1-4)

And there are a few less specialized commercial fetish sites in the U. S.

http://www.fetishfilms.com/ (or, http://www.mother-productions.com/)

and abroad that have offered some period-porn. I've not yet done a thorough survey of Japanese sites since they are often in Japanese, which I don't read; I may, however, be able to get help from others in the research.

E-mail addresses of people who have made period pictures and/or videos (many but not all have web sites; see above):

Angel <wet_4_you@hotmail.com>
Ashley <Ashleyflo28@hotmail.com>
Barbie <barbiecologne@hotmail.com>
Chelsea <lovechelsea@thedoghousemail.com>
Coastalgirl Tyler <coastalgirl@mail.clis.com>
Crystal <hotredhead@hotredhead.com>
Jasmine <world_of_jasmine@hotmail.com>
Julia <julia@julia-is-sexy.com>
Leaky <leakyp@hotmail.com>
Michelle <tungwiz@aol.com>
Mona <monap@earthlink.net>
Picture of a Woman <poawoman@hotmail.com>
RisqueRenee <risquerenee@flinet.com>
Sarah <chameleons1@earthlink.net>
Sexy Anna <anna@clubsexyanna.com>
Sue <Wyld_kat75@hotmail.com>
Tammy <bldpost@tammys.com>
Teri <oops_19@hotmail.com>
Tinaf <tinaf@ne.uswest.net>

One of the most stable, members-only sites for "flowlovers" is maintained by Pixel Pete, a sometime frequent poster, along with Big Tunaman, of pictures (uuencoded gifs and jpegs) to alt.sex.menstruation. I'm very grateful to Pixel Pete for allowing me access to the site. Along with Basementchild and flowlicker, Pixel Pete and Big Tunaman are two of the most enthusiastic period-porn fans that I know of.

There are rare examples of "crossover." For example, Basementchild has suggested the rubric "Bloody Lemonade" for material that combines golden showers with menstruation.

And there is even period porn involving bestiality:

Period Sex With a Dog (SCALA Video)
Evelyn and Betty are good friends. They love lesbian sex and animals. When they realized their dog got horny they were eager to satisfy him with their bloody pussies.

Largely in response to my inquiries, a few relevant postings have been made to soc.sexuality.general and rec.arts.movies.erotica. For example:

From: fconcept@netvigator.com (Rod)
Newsgroups: soc.sexuality.general
Subject: Re: A Period Post
Date: 19 Sep 1997
I have seen occasional pictures in European porno magazines where the women depicted appeared to be menstruating, but this was not a primary feature of the photos. While the sex shops of Amsterdam and Copenhagen contain magazines depicting the erotic aspects of urination and defecation, I have never seen anything similar for menstruation, though there must be a potential market for it.

"Eric Boyd" wrote in a late 1997 posting to rec.arts.movies.erotica:

I made the big mistake of renting Period Pieces, the new menstrual sex vid from L[oretta]. Sterling [Totally Tasteless Videos 1997]. I should have known better, it has the Bogas Bros. in it. Nevertheless, I rented it. Here's my review in one word: Fake! Fake! Fake! Fake! Fake! Don't get this. Don't get any Bogas tape ever again.

Loretta Sterling (aka Edward DeRoo) has not replied to my inquiry about his reasons for making this video. I understand that he plans soon to release a puke-porn video.

Then there are vampire- and animé-driven interests:


Forum: alt.books.anne-rice
Subject: Re: Memnoch
Date: 1998/12/02
Author: Greg Purvis <greg.purvis@neverending.com>

> In article <72759q$7bg_001@anthro.nwu.edu>, laura@isp.nwu.edu (Laura
> Bryannan) wrote:
> The pad-sucking scene in Memnoch was gross, for me, due to the fact that >menstrual fluid is *not* blood.  It is the waste material from the womb that the >body disposes of when the egg is not fertilized. It is toxic, and can be equated >with urine and feces.
well, menstrual "fluid" is, like many waste products, composed of many substances, the same way urine and feces are composed of many substances (all of them nasty), but blood is certainly a constituent.
it seems to me to be a rehash of an old, bad vampire joke, the punch line for which eludes me.
i guess sucking down a tampax wouldn't give one of the undeadlings toxic shock syndrome, though.

Forum: alt.games.whitewolf

Subject: A pretty Gross subject.....
Date: 1999/03/05
Author: Oderus725 <oderus725@aol.com>
Alright, I'm gonna get kinda nasty here.. but someplace this has probably been covered before...
How do vampires feel about Menstrual blood?
I'm sure there's some Lesbian Vamp Porn Erotica Fiction out there that may cover the subject, but aside from any literary examples someone could point me towards, I'm interested ALSO in how (if) this has been actualy
handled/roleplayed by everyone (anyone?).
For instance, would you say it's dead blood, or somehow sweeter?   Would vampires, whether they like the smell or not, be able with their heightened senses (not counting Auspex/Improved Smell Merit) to tell if a Ghoul/Victim other mortal were menstruating, perhaps even at a distance?  You know, with their heigtened senses tuned to blood anyway...
This isn't sniggering and dirty, I'm really interested.  If you must know, I'm considering it as a severe addiction/feeding selectivity (a la the Ventrue weakness) for a player of mine.  :)

Subject: Re: Menstruation in Anime
Date: 1999/03/12
Author: Avery Davies <puppeteer@earthlink.net>
QuikQuak13 wrote:
> First of all I am not a troll but if you do have a problem with this
> subject please do not read it. Thank you.
>Does anyone know of any instances where menstruation is refered to in
> anime? I can only think of the following:
> Neon Genesis Evangelion: In an episode near the end of the series Asuka is
> upset that she is having her period.

Don't forget about Rei. She mentions it in the 14th episode during her poem "She is the woman who does not bleed" is a reference to her lack of menstruation and one of the first clues signaling that she is different.


[1]To be more careful, there is another bodily effluent that is rarely if ever eroticized in porn: nasal mucus. Perhaps this is sufficiently similar to vomitus in its indication of malfunction to be explained similarly. Nasal intercourse, is, for reasons of size incompatibility, not a common topic, though I do recall an article from Screw in the early 1970s on one man's fantasy of consensual nasal intercourse achieved with an African female diplomat.
[2] I endeavor to at least mute my repulsion towards puke-porn when addressing its enthusiasts. Some sort of honesty seems the best policy.
[3]See "Blood Sports," in Sylvia Plachy and James Ridgeway, Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry (Powerhouse Books, 1996) 104-111, for one of the few published factual descriptions of contemporary American sexual practices that treat menstrual blood as a sexual fluid. For a photographic album of blood play, see David Aaron Clark (text) Charles Gatewood (photographs), True Blood (Last Gasp, 1997).
[4]According to the webmasters of the relevant sites, there are about four times as many members of the main necrophiliac site than there are for the main flowlovers site (roughly, over 3000 vs. 750).
[5]According to the now somewhat dated reports in Sharon Golub, Periods: From Menarche to Menopause (Sage, 1992) and Sophie Laws, Issues of Blood: The Politics of Menstruation (Macmillan, 1990), menstrual sex is a fairly common occurrence. Golub reports that in surveys of British and US populations done during the early 1980s, about half of those surveyed did not think that intercourse during menstruation should be avoided. (126-128) I think it's safe to assume that the proportions finding it acceptable have not decreased during the past fifteen years or so. See, for example, Tommy Leonardi and Sheri de Borchgrave, "Period Peace," POV Magazine (November, 1998) 138, an advice column that offers a "male" and a "female" perspective, that month on sex during menstruation; both guest columnists recommend it, which is less significant than the fact that the column would be focused on this issue. See also: Janet Lee and Jennifer Sasser-Coen, Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary U.S. Society. (Routledge, 1996); and Karen Houppert, The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999). The Midol Report, a recent survey of 300 American men, suggests that 59% of the men surveyed would have sex with a menstruating partner, and 39% of the men surveyed have partners who want to have sex while menstruating. There report did not say what the effect of age had on these attitudes.
[6]In correspondence, Professor Eithne Johnson (Wellesley College) has told me about Ann Severson's film, Near the Big Chakra which includes vulva close-ups, with some visible tampon strings. Johnson reports, "... legend has it that the film provoked [vomiting] ... in at least one viewer ... ." A more recent (late 1999) release is Blood, a three-part, eleven minute independent film which explores the attitudes of two young women and one young man towards menstruation. The film is viewable on-line. Menstrual blood is also featured in contemporary song, e.g. Ani DiFranco's "Blood in the Boardroom," with its accompanying video, and Tori Amos's "Silent All These Years."
[7]There is one small though persistent netnews group intended for those who find an erotic charge in some aspect of vomiting. A very small number of web sites are referred to in this group, sites where puke porn is available; one of the sites even features a fictional piece in which cunnilingus during menstruation results in vomiting for the man performing it and an intense, blood-gushing orgasm for the woman. There are also references to Euro-puke-porn, especially of German origin. One web site, the Anorexia and Bulimia Rec Room, is devoted to the celebration of the physique of anorectics and also features some images of vomiting. Because I find it somewhat easier to explain the relative rarity of puke-porn for the reasons adumbrated, I say little about it here. But interesting questions that certainly deserve answers are: Why is there any puke-porn at all? What underlies emetophilia? How does someone, male or female, discover that s/he is an emetophile? Why are some who are repulsed by nausea nevertheless sexually aroused by vomiting, their own or others? How do the answers to these questions bear on explanation of the prevalence of bulimia among some groups of young women in the U. S.?
[8]ed. Lysbeth Guillorn (Hysteria Publications, 1997).
[9]For useful historical perspectives on the development of recent American attitudes towards menstruation, see Joan Jacobs Brumberg, "Sanitizing Puberty: The American Way to Menstruate," The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls (Random House, 1997), 27-55; and Lara Freidenfelds, "Tampons: Advertising and Bodily Practice, 1936-1950," paper delivered at Discipline and Deviance: Gender, Technology, Machines (Duke University, September 28, 1998).

[10]As Nina Hartley pointed out during the question and answer session following the talk based on this paper, there are many counterexamples in contemporary porn to the claim that what's most attractive is what's most biologically adaptive. She mentioned the shots of ejaculation on women's faces and anuses as two especially common examples of relevantly non-adaptive acts that are in demand from porn consumers.
[11]For a full discussion, see Mary Jane Lupton, Menstruation and Psychoanalysis (University of Illinois Press, 1993), and references cited therein.
[12]Thanks to Candice Ward for drawing my attention to this material.
[13]Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (Columbia University Press, 1982), 71.
[14]"Julia Kristeva: Abjection, motherhood and love," Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists (Allen & Unwin, 1989), Chapter 3, 70-99.
[15]Kristeva also has much that's relevant to say about vomiting and vomitus, which should probably also be considered in any thorough analysis of the rarity of puke porn.
[16]of Portland, OR, a producer/performer of one video containing period-porn. She writes,

There has been little interest in the menstrual footage so it does not appear to be a turn-on for most men. My theory is that sexual arousal and fetishes are all infantile in nature, i.e., suckling, kissing,and other oral stimulation; fondling; urinating and defecating (potty training); spanking (bad boy or girl), bondage and discipline are all related to a parent having domination over a child. Anyway, menstruation is not a part of that and while most men I have known in swinging are not averse to having intercourse with a woman during her period, it is not a particular turn-on for them. However, my husband and I have had some of our best and kinkiest sex during my period.

[17]Professor Butler replied via e-mail:

...I think that there must be room for disavowal in any eroticization of disgust, some way to cover over what appears with a fantasy of what does not, and it may be that certain kinds of emissions don't cede to the fantasy in ways that are necessary for eroticization. In other words, if the fetish consists in an ambivalent structure of avowal and disavowal, then there must be room for both, and if the ambivalence collapses, then so must the eroticization.

This may be the best of what Kristeva has to offer, and it's briefer, too.
[18]Professor Dettwyler offered an interesting contrast:

... in a strange reversal of the issues, while lactating women and expressed milk are highlighted in a whole range of pornographic films, the general public finds breastfeeding in public to be disgusting or revolting, often equating breast milk with such bodily products as urine, feces, nasal mucous, and menstrual blood. That's why legislation to protect the rights of women breastfeeding in public has become necessary. We do live in a strange society, to be sure . . . . . Certainly, both vomiting and menstruation are construed as "sickness" in our society, while urinating and defecating are normal, everyday bodily functions.

[19]Alma Gottlieb and Thomas Buckley, eds., Blood Music: The Anthropology of Menstruation (University of California Press, 1988).
[20] In correspondence, Professor Bullough reported that he has seen written period porn, and that the dearth of pictorial period porn might be attributed to technical difficulties. I find the latter unpersuasive, as I've noted. It may be, however, that the technical difficulties are enough to shift the relative proportions of period porn between print and pictorial media. It remains to be seen if that is so, and to determine the rarity of print period porn relative to other sorts of print porn.
[21]Director of the Kinsey Institute
[22]The Anatomy of Disgust (Harvard University Press, 1997).


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