Menstruation is still a taboo in the media - and its discussion is veiled in blue fluid and euphemisms like "these" or "critical" days. It seems that it has always been this way, but in reality it has not - in the USSR, for many years they wrote openly about menstruation, and articles were accompanied by drawings of the uterus. We understand the history of attitudes towards menstruation in the USSR - with the help of the press, books and historian Pavel Vasiliev.
By this time, when the egg ripens, the woman has blood, or, as they are otherwise called, regulation, or menstruation. In Russia, this usually happens in the 13th or 14th year. From the age when the maturation of eggs and regulation begins, the girl begins to turn into a girl. She begins to grow stronger, her voice changes, sometimes her character changes. During this time, girls sometimes become very irritable
"RABORATNITSA", No. 6, 1923
← IN THE TWENTY AND THIRTY YEARS the party press published texts on menstruation in at least every other issue. Doctor of Historical Sciences Alisa Klotz believes that this can be explained by the early Soviet hygiene campaign - it was actively pursued until the post-war years, when the main migration from villages to cities took place and the population learned basic hygiene skills. During this period, menstruation was written medically dry and to the point. Pavel Vasiliev, candidate of historical sciences and postdoctoral fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, says that in the first years after the revolution, emancipatory sentiments were strong in the country.
During the blood, the insides of the uterus swell, the uterus becomes friable, filled with blood. The opening in the cervix opens slightly and the blood is poured out. Menstruation lasts differently: 3-5-7 days - and appears every 3-4 weeks. If your periods last longer or appear more often, then this is already a disease and you need to see a doctor
"Worker", No. 6, 1923
→ RESEARCHER ERIK NAYMAN WRITS, that Alexandra Kollontai treated menstruation as something unpleasant and obligatory for women, which would be nice to get rid of. It was believed that menstruation stood in the way of a woman to complete equality with a man, but at the same time it was not considered as an important female experience. This is just a phenomenon that women are susceptible to, and therefore they wrote about them, like any other "medical", highly specialized information - the necessary minimum. For additional data or in case of deviations in the cycle, it was advised to go to the doctor.
Menses, therefore, is not a disease; according to the letter of the law, a woman during menstruation is not subject to release from labor. But there are a number of women who, due to certain conditions of the body, menstruation, especially in the first days, is extremely difficult. Doctors prescribe a woman who does not work at the enterprise, complete rest (lying in bed) for one to two days
"RABORATNITSA", No. 7, 1924
← DISCUSSIONS ABOUT MENSTRUATION AND EQUALITY were conducted at the level of whether to take time off on the days of menstruation. The professor of Soviet history Melanie Ilic in the study "Soviet Women Workers and Menstruation: A Research Note on Labor Protection in the 1920s and 1930s" writes that in factories and industries where there were more women than men, there was menstrual leave. Women could take a day off several days a month - although some deliberately did not use it. Pavel Vasiliev believes that this is typical for the modern situation: on the one hand, menstrual time off can be considered a progressive legislative initiative; on the other hand, they seem to automatically imply that the female body functions worse than the male for several days a month, and the male body is taken as a standard.
But not all party publications of this period have strong feminist sentiments. For example, in the "Women's Journal" in 1926, the material "Chemistry of Women's Moods" was published - it describes that a woman becomes uncontrollable for several days a month, and in psychiatry she is prepared for a diagnosis of "menstrual psychosis": "Consequently, the sanity of a woman's personality in the period of your period is definitely limited. Statistics illustrate this idea by pointing to an increased propensity for crime. It turns out that about 50% of all suicides among women occur during the period of regulation."
If the meeting of the female egg cell with the sperm does not occur, the unfertilized egg cell still moves into the uterus and dies. The superficial layer of the swollen mucous membrane of the uterus narrows; it is accompanied by bleeding; what we call menstruation happens
"Worker", No. 7, 1947
→ AFTER THE WAR, in the second half of the forties - early fifties, in the journals, medical details, attention to health and hygiene replaced anxiety exclusively for the reproductive state of a woman. The press reminded that if menstruation got lost or discharge appeared, a woman immediately needs to see a doctor, until complications arise - she is going to become a mother.
Pavel Vasiliev adds that the country during the Stalinist period, in the context of militarization, was interested in new citizens, and above all in soldiers. This is most noticeable in the post-war years, when a woman was seen as an "incubator" for the production of people, and not only in the USSR - other countries affected by the war also sought to make up for the losses. During this period, medical negligence, cases when a doctor by his actions caused damage to a woman's reproductive health, were punished especially severely, adds Vasiliev. Accordingly, menstruation itself was not then talked about - they were simply mentioned in articles about pregnancy, the causes of infertility or abortion.
The main concern of parents in this regard is to better prepare the girl's body for a normal menstrual cycle. Physically developed, hardened, healthy girls usually have their periods regularly, without disturbances; on the contrary, sickly girls often find it difficult to endure the onset of menstruation, lose weight, lose their already modest strength
"Worker", No. 3, 1963
← FROM THE END OF THE FIFTY - the beginning of the sixties, mentions of menstruation in the press surface only within the framework of advice for the mother of a teenage girl. The grandmother, doctor and school teachers should be prepared for the girls' menstruation, and the mother should provide the daughter with information in advance so that she is not afraid of blood. And the entire environment of the schoolgirl should be prepared for the fact that her behavior will change, she will begin to study worse and be rude - it is believed that this is a normal stage in her life associated with “becoming a mother”. Pavel Vasiliev suggests that menstrual knowledge from the late fifties to the eighties goes into the sphere of the family, and the responsibility for storing and transmitting this information lies only with the mother.
There is another theory that explains this state of affairs: in the sixties and eighties it becomes more difficult to talk about menstruation, possibly due to a new, even more conservative view of the family. In The High Title of a Communist: Postwar Party Discipline and the Values of the Soviet Regime, Edward Cohn concludes that the Khrushchev period in the USSR became almost more “moralizing” than the Stalinist one. For example, if under Stalin it became known about the mistress of some official, this could be followed by simple conversations and reprimands - under Khrushchev, the sanctions for such actions were much stricter. The moral character of the builder of communism is being constructed more clearly and in detail than ever before.
At least twice a day, clean hands with short-cut nails should wash the external genitals with lukewarm boiled water; dried blood on the external genital organs leads to contamination and irritation of the skin, hence the inflammation can pass into the vagina and internal genital organs. You should not take a bath during menstruation, swim in the sea, in the river (you can not douche the vagina). You should wash yourself in the shower. You cannot have sexual intercourse. It is necessary to use hygienic gauze pads, which should be tied to the belt and changed as they become dirty; loose leotards should be worn and changed more often
"Brief Encyclopedia of Household",
→ In Soviet times, in the press very little attention is paid to the "technical" side of the issue - hygiene products, which should make life easier for women during menstruation. For example, a special belt was very popular, on which it was necessary to fasten cotton wool wrapped in gauze. Although by the end of the eighties the first panty liners named by female names ("Angelina", "Veronica") and tampons appeared in the country, these goods were in short supply, and Soviet women rarely bought them. But instructions on how to make gaskets yourself - from the same gauze and cotton wool - were very popular. Pavel Vasiliev believes that due to the fact that women often made the pads themselves, they did not understand why they should give money for them.
In the eighties, articles on menstruation became fewer, and by the early nineties, hints of them remained only in advertising. Pavel Vasiliev believes that the "disappearance" of menstruation may be associated with traditionalist discourse, which will only get stronger over time. Menses are ultimately referred to as "women's affairs" that have no place in a magazine; part of the information is transferred to the encyclopedia "for girls", where advice on the manufacture of pads is also saved. Subsequently, advertising in the press and on television was engaged in the promotion of pads and tampons. The first Tampax advertisement appeared in Burda magazine in 1989: it promised that with Tampax women in the country would find unprecedented comfort and freedom - and at the same time explained in detail how to use it and how to dispose of it after that.
Almost thirty years after the collapse of the USSR, menstruation is still a taboo topic. Despite the fact that pads, tampons and menstrual cups regularly appear in advertisements, talking about them is still considered a "personal" matter - and because of this, many women do not fully understand how their bodies function, and myths continue to reign in society. that during menstruation it is impossible to get pregnant and you can not do any sports. The good news is that the beginning of a change has been made: for example, in the ads for pads, not blue liquid appeared, but blood. It remains to overcome the embarrassment.
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