Menstruation in Film:
Generally, when movies depict people using restrooms or bathrooms they show women
going to apply makeup, and men going to urinate. Anything to do with women actually using toilets is almost never depicted in movies (unless they are urinating on a pregnancy stick, in which case the camera will focus on their face – we won’t see any urine).
Similarly, anything to do with menstruation is almost never depicted in movies. The only movie I think I’ve seen menstruation depicted in is ‘Osama’ (a film about a girl disguised as a boy in Afghanistan). In that film, the menstruation scene was critical to the development of the plot.
Apparently the new film ‘The Runaways’, starring Dakota Fanning, also depicts menstruation (when Dakota Fanning’s character Cherie Currie gets her period for the first time). It’s great that that film is willing to depict menstruation, especially the first time a girl gets her period (because that is a very significant, and often embarrassing, time). However, I wish more films would show the more ‘mundane’ periods – the ones that occur every month for most women.
Menstruation in Advertisements:
The only time menstruation is usually mentioned on TV is on advertisements for pads and tampons (sanitary napkins). Actresses on those ads usually wear white, and there is never any sign of blood or anything red. These ads label periods as gross, icky, and embarrassing – they give a strong message that periods are taboo and dirty, and that they should be kept discrete and hidden (at all costs).
Making menstruation, period pain, and female urination unmentionable on TV does nothing to break the discomfort my culture has when it comes to talking about menstruation.