Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I got my letter of approval from the Honors College today. I'm happy it came so fast.

Real work will start in January. Right now I'm still hung up on Dr. Mario.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Proposal

With this blog I aim to track and share my progress on my senior honors project. I'll be working on it next semester, but I just finished up the proposal I plan to turn in tomorrow. I am really excited to work on this. The response will surely be interesting, but I hope I can take something useful out of the positive rather than be disheartened by the nearly inevitable negative.

Here's the proposal, so you have an idea of what to expect:

“That time of the month.” “Aunt Flo’s monthly visit.” “Riding the crimson tide.” There are so many ways for women (and men) to talk about their menstrual cycles without ever actually saying anything. Why is this?

With this project, lightheartedly titled Period Piece, I aim to dig deeper into menstruation from a few different perspectives. As it is such a taboo subject for discussion in our society, I would like to start with examining the reasons and mythology behind this discomfort with menses. The air of secrecy surrounding menstrual habits ties into feminism and women’s empowerment, and I would like to explore that relationship. Beyond that, I hope to discover the unique impact that modern menstrual products have on the environment, women’s bodies, and women’s wallets. I also plan to learn more about alternative reusable menstrual products and how they compare to the disposable standard with this project. Additionally, I would like to present a workshop about these alternatives as a part of UCM’s V-Week activities in February. Presenting my findings to a group of interested women is the most personally fulfilling goal I have in mind. Other possible avenues of sharing my work with others might include a display case, blog, or personal zine.

Most women are unaware of the impact that their feminine products make. Millions of tampons and pads are produced each year and treated with a battery of chemicals that are then put into women’s bodies. These treatment chemicals often have ill effects on the bodies of women, and are almost always under-researched and under-reported. After one-time usage, these products are then disposed of, clogging water ways or filling landfills, virtually never to decompose. Very few people are privy to the variety of reusable menstrual products that are less expensive over the long-term, produce less disposable waste, and require less (if any) harmful chemicals involved in their production.

Procedures for this project will involve mostly reading and research from a variety of readily-available sources. I will study menstruation from not only an academic standpoint, through reading medical journals, books, and previous research, but also from a popular standpoint by examining media that may include women’s magazines, blogs, and personal experiences. For the V-Week workshop, I would like to not only present what I have learned, but also provide supplies and time for the participants to make their own reusable products so they have the opportunity to apply some of what they learn in their own lives.

Ultimately, I hope with the information gained through Period Piece I am able to educate and empower others to critically think about and evaluate their attitudes and behaviors relating to menstruation. I think the project will complement my minor in Women & Gender Studies well and will be a satisfying way to finish my degree here at UCM. The research I will complete through my honors project will better prepare me to engage in meaningful conversations with other women about the choices they make about their bodies. This venture is also of interest to the university as a whole, as to the best of my knowledge, this is the first menstrual activism study to take place at the University of Central Missouri.

Personally, as an environmental and feminist activist, this project means a lot to me, as it combines both of those interests. Most people are surprised to hear about alternatives to “corporate products” and those reactions are of interest to me. When I enlighten other women about the impact their personal hygiene products have on the world that surrounds them, I feel like I am making a positive difference both for women and for the environment.


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