Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Piya Chatterjee

Reader 3

Claudia Strauss

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Rights Information

© 2014 Emily G. Matteson


Menstruation is a biological process, but it is also laden with cultrual meanings that produce society's understandings of both the body and "womanhood." The experiences of those who menstruate both reveal and inform the ways that culture mediates the relationships between biology, the body, sex, and gender. This study examines the ways that students at Scripps College, a women's college in Claremont, CA, understand and experience menstruation as part of living in an environment where the majority of students identify as female. Through ethnographic interviews, I demonstrate the ways that students use menstruation to re-envision distinctions between public and private spheres, to evaluate their relationships with other people, to gain knowledge about the body, and to question what it means to claim a female identity. The discourses of menstruation at Scripps reveal that although there is a dominant construction of the women's college as an "ideal women's space," in practice students continue to adhere to sociocultural restrictions placed on the menstruating female body, even as they attempt to create a more positive discourse.