What is the origin of the taboo on menstruation in the West?

Qu'elle est l'origine du tabou des règles en Occident ?

The origins of the menstrual taboo are many, and require considerable historical, geographical and theological study to understand why menstruation is still so stigmatized in 2020 in the West.

Since ancient times, menstruation has been the subject of myths and beliefs to describe it and try to understand its origins when science and medicine were still unable to do so. Menstruation was sometimes described as "sacred", a sign of "well-being", and sometimes as "dangerous" and a "sign of sin", yet it was always perceived as "powerful".

In Norse mythology, for example, the deity Thor had to bathe in a river filled with the menstrual blood of a giantess from the matrix of the "Almighty" to attain eternal life.

In Greek mythology, menstrual blood is even considered a powerful and addictive substance, the "supernatural red wine" offered by Hera to the gods.

For the Mayans, menstruation was associated with black magic and seen as a punishment. In the Veda, menstruation is even a manifestation of the sin of the god Indra, who had to divide himself into 4 parts to free himself: trees, water, fire and women.

Researchers then turned their attention to the interpretation of menstruation in the texts of various religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Shinto.

Sikhism is the only religion to take a very positive approach to the subject in its writings. This religion considers menstruation to be a biological process provided by God, and discrimination against menstruating women is severely condemned. As for the other religious texts, they are very similar in the way they conceive of menstruation, and therefore women, as impure.

These similarities all point to the spiritual, even dangerous, impurity of menstruation. Women are therefore most often isolated, excluded and forbidden to touch other people, and forbidden to take part in religious practice during their periods. Almost all texts also indicate the need to take a purifying bath at the end of menstruation, to free oneself from sin.

The researchers therefore believe that religious texts could be the main factor that, over time, spread the belief that menstruation should be viewed with shame and fear. They also believe that all the mythological, religious and cultural interpretations of the menstrual cycle persist in our societies today, and are reflected in many negative behaviors towards menstruation. These attitudes are held by everyone: men and women alike, whatever their social background, as well as by the scientific community.

Indeed, not so long ago, the scientific community also had a strong influence on this taboo. In the first part of the 20th century, a number of medical researchers in the United States attempted to scientifically prove the dangerousness of menstrual flow as suggested by religious texts. They based their arguments on the theory of menotoxin toxicity in menstrual flow. It wasn't until an Israeli gynecologist in the 1960s conducted experiments on sick animals that this sexist theory was put to rest, proving that it was the bacteria, not the menstrual blood, that killed them.

If such beliefs could have such a strong impact on a community like the scientific community, supposedly at the forefront of evolution, it's not surprising that their influence still persists when it comes to social behavior, educational methods and communication.

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.