Menstruation is something half the world does for a week at a time, for months and years on end, yet it remains largely misunderstood. Scientists once thought of an individual’s period as useless, and some doctors still believe it’s unsafe for a menstruating person to swim in the ocean wearing a tampon. Period counters the false theories that have long defined the study of the uterus, exposing the eugenic history of gynecology while providing an intersectional feminist perspective on menstruation science.
Blending interviews and personal experience with engaging stories from her own pioneering research, Kate Clancy challenges a host of myths and false assumptions. There is no such a thing as a “normal” menstrual cycle. In fact, menstrual cycles are incredibly variable and highly responsive to environmental and psychological stressors. Clancy takes up a host of timely issues surrounding menstruation, from bodily autonomy, menstrual hygiene, and the COVID-19 vaccine to the ways racism, sexism, and medical betrayal warp public perceptions of menstruation and erase it from public life.
Offering a revelatory new perspective on one of the most captivating biological processes in the human body, Period will change the way you think about the past, present, and future of periods.
"Period by the biological anthropologist Kate Clancy, hope[s] to draw our attention to menstruation and the often overlooked organ central to it. . . . Clancy hope[s] to encourage us to better appreciate this remarkable muscle. . . . Rather than greeting our periods with disgust, perhaps we should trade our revulsion for awe."—Yasmine AlSayyad, New Yorker
"In energetic and funny prose, Clancy castigates Western societies, especially scientists and physicians, for menstrual stigmas both ancient and modern. . . . [Period] conveys a consistently positive view of menstrual blood, the menstrual cycle, and the bodies of people who menstruate. Looking for agency, optimism, power, and healing in menstruating bodies, Clancy demonstrates that, indeed, these qualities are there for those whose eyes are open to them. . . . A main theme throughout the book is that there is a diversity of menstrual experiences, and that is a good way for bodies (and people) to be. In the end, Clancy simply wants periods to be understood and respected for the remarkable biological process they are."—Lara Freidenfelds, Science
"A bracing look at periods and how society lets down those who have them. . . . Clancy excels at outlining how sexism influences the production and process of science, as well as public understandings of research findings. The result is an urgent call to reconsider how periods are researched and discussed."—Publishers Weekly
"Give this book to everyone."—Aimee Cunningham, Science News
“This book is a transformative reframing of our understanding of the biology of menstruation and fertility, making clear the stakes of the scientific debates for our lives.”—Sarah S. Richardson, author of The Maternal Imprint
“This book is a revelation. Kate Clancy demolishes the centuries of pseudoscience and misogyny that have wrongly made menstruation seem repulsive, and replaces them with a far more rigorous and fascinating view of this vital and nigh-miraculous act. Period is both an authoritative work of scholarship and a soaring, hopeful manifesto for a better culture and a more just science.”—Ed Yong, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of An Immense World
“Kate Clancy shatters the taboo and stigma surrounding periods that pervade Western cultures, offering a powerful and necessary rethinking of everything society has told you about menstruation. Profound and insightful, Period opens a window into what menstruation could be in a more just, more feminist future.”—Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, author of The Disordered Cosmos
“A tour de force of careful and robust science, personal reflection, and deep compassion that debunks misinformation and points the way to true menstrual liberation. With sparkling narrative and a commitment to care, Clancy shows why menstruation matters for all of us.”—Agustín Fuentes, author of The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional
“I thought I knew a lot about periods. Boy was I wrong! Period blew up so many of my preconceived notions in the best possible way, offering up a kaleidoscope of new perspectives on menstruation. Kate Clancy weaves history, science, narrative, and analysis into an expansive, inclusive, and insightful profile of the oft-misunderstood uterus. You’ll never look at a tampon the same way again, and that’s a good thing.”—Rose Eveleth, producer and host of Flash Forward