Nature, Menstrual Suppression, and the value of Material Feminism

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    Abstract

    This article revisits women’s accounts of menstrual suppression and considers the value in using material feminist theory to discuss the concept of nature in this context. Whilst a sociological, poststructuralist framing of nature as discourse has been useful in challenging essentialist claims about women’s bodies, I argue now that engaging with material feminism acknowledges both the material and discursive ways in which women talk about menstruation and its suppression. This article draws on qualitative data gathered in the aftermath of the approval of the first extended cycle oral contraceptive. In their narratives women struggled to unite the desire to frame their perceptions as natural whilst at the same time upholding the right to use synthetic interventions to control menstruation. Building on poststructural and embodiment theory, as well as drawing on the concept of ‘naturecultures’ [Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, cyborgs and women: The reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge], I argue it is helpful for health sociology to incorporate material feminism in order to advance understanding of ambivalence in relation to new reproductive technologies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)312-325
    Number of pages14
    JournalHealth Sociology Review
    Volume25
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2016

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