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Menstruation, Subjectivity and Constructions of Girlhood in Britain, 1960-1980.

Froom, Hannah (2022) Menstruation, Subjectivity and Constructions of Girlhood in Britain, 1960-1980. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores how ‘ordinary’ girls’ growing up in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s experienced menstruation. Using popular girls’ magazines Jackie, Honey and Petticoat, it looks at representations of menstruation in advertising and editorial content and highlights how discourses of menstrual invisibility were presented to girls. It also uses oral history and Mass Observation directive responses to understand how women remembered and described their girlhood menstrual experiences, and to explore the significance of ‘menstrual invisibility’ to their menstrual management practices. Using magazines and personal testimony in conjunction, this thesis pays particular attention to the relationship between popular representation and personal experience contributing to debates regarding the accessibility of experience. It charts how ideas about menstruation disseminated to girls in popular magazines informed and spurred girls’ own articulations of their menstrual experiences, and uses interdisciplinary theories and methods from history, anthropology, phenomenology, fashion studies and pain studies to write a history of menstrual experience. Using magazines and testimony in conjunction, this thesis highlights the persistence of a culture of menstrual invisibility across the period 1960-1980 and explores its impact on girls’ menstrual education, menstrual management practices, menstrual health and subjectivities more broadly. This bottom-up approach yields new insights into the little-known history of menstruation, magazines and girlhood in the period 1960-1980, whilst also contributing to historiographical debates about the ‘swinging sixties’, and ‘permissive Britain’. Menstruation as a framework and focus for study complicates assessments of the period as defined by changing social mores, whilst simultaneously drawing attention to the historical roots of menstrual stigma today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Hannah Froom
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2022 10:35
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 10:35
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/33091

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