Menstrual dirt

An exploration of contemporary menstrual hygiene practices in Sweden


246 kr

This book is an open access title from Arkiv förlag. This means that in addition to the print edition that you can buy from us or from booksellers, there is also a freely available e-book edition, free to read and download here from us.
E-ISBN: 9789179243685
Permanent link:
PDF: 9789179243685.pdf


Why is menstruation so often considered a dirty phenomenon, in both material and symbolic terms? How do ideas and realities of menstrual pollution affect the lived experience of menstruation and everyday hygiene practices?

Josefin Persdotter’s study Menstrual Dirt explores how notions and materializations of pollution are enacted in different menstrual practices: in what products to use, in how to get rid of menstrual waste, how to clean reusables, wash the body and stained underwear, scrub toilets and avoid unwanted smells. It unpacks taken for granted aspects of menstrual life and reveals persistent gendered inequalities in relation to menstruation.

In focus are two specific menstrual technologies: the disposable pad and the reusable cup. The author shows how the promotion and use of these everyday technologies (re)produce menstruation as something dirty, symbolically and as a lived experience. Theoretical tools from the sociology of dirt, science and technology studies and anthropology are used to make sense of a wealth of fascinating interview and documentary material.

The study makes visible how menstrual pollution beliefs are (re)shaped in Sweden, a country with a comparatively high level of gender equality and menstrual activism. The results have implications in a wider context and for policies and technological changes to make menstruating into a less laborious and less negatively felt experience.

Josefin Persdotter is a sociologist and an internationally known scholar within Critical Menstrual Studies. She is also an acclaimed menstrual artist and activist.

Läs Sydsvenskans intervju med författaren här: ”’Smutsig’ mens skapar vardagskrångel” eller lyssna på henne i P1 Vetenskapsradion Forskarlivs intervju ”Mens ses fortfarande som något smutsigt”. Boken har också fått en fin recension i Women’s Reproductive Health, 13 augusti 2022.