Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's up with female characters and.... gasp... their periods?

So I was just reading The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa. One of the main characters is the captain of the star ship, the Galahad, and also, a young woman. After I was done reading the story, I was thinking about this young woman and I remembered that the story never talked about her period.

Then I was thinking of my favorite trilogy, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen is the narrator of the story and she's thrust into several survival situations. But never in the story does she seem to have her period.

I am always wondering why authors leave menstruation out of their stories. We all know it happens. We all know we can't stop it (without getting pregnant, having a hysterectomy or taking hormones) so why not talk about it?

Does the publishing industry prevent this frank discussion? I agree that in some stories it really is a non-issue. In realistic fiction, most characters live in a modern life and we have conveniences to deal with Aunt Flo coming to visit. However, a girl like Katniss might get her period at the worst time: during the games. But that never seems to happen in stories. Girls just magically don't have to deal with their periods.

Yes, I know some "coming of age" stories deal with periods, even if it's just to mention them. However, think of any other kind of story. Did the girl get her period at all? Probably never once.

I wonder sometimes, how a character would deal with getting her period if she was trekking across the wilderness. How would a girl feel dating a vampire if she got her period? Would it attract or repel werewolves during "that time of the month?" Who knows, but I wish that we wouldn't ignore that we all get periods. Women have to deal with this fact of life and it would be neat to see it reflected creatively in fiction.

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