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My First Period
August 29, 2010 1:19 PM   Subscribe

"My First Period" is a spoken performance Staceyann Chin, the author of the memoir The Other Side of Paradise, at the 2009 Campus Progress Conference.
posted by lauratheexplorer (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's Brilliant :) !
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:43 PM on August 29, 2010


This is at once hilarious and horrific.
posted by Ouisch at 2:44 PM on August 29, 2010


Needs tag: TMI.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:11 PM on August 29, 2010


That was brilliant. The poem gave me goosebumps
posted by torisaur at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


When in doubt: Start by bashing Bush, and then tell a story with as many uses of the word "vagina" as possible.

If you want real (and tasteful) spoken word, check out someone like Taylor Mali or Mayda del Valle.
posted by tmacdonald at 4:48 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Elliott Templeton!
posted by Ouisch at 5:19 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her George W Bush haiku was unimaginative, profane, and obnoxious, much like most of the past decade.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:26 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap that was awesome. Seconding torisaur's goosebumps.
posted by Myca at 5:50 PM on August 29, 2010


That was...interesting. At turns funny, touching and full on angry. The whole "I have a vagina and look how much better than a penis it is" strikes me as silly, but hey, my male ass isn't exactly the the target audience. Still, she has a way with words, so rock on.
posted by nomadicink at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2010


My First Period is the worst piece of prog kitsch I've seen on here in recent memory.
posted by Yakuman at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't like this post for something similar to what Yakuman said.
posted by anniecat at 6:59 PM on August 29, 2010


Period memoirs always make me feel a bit strange, since my first period was so banal I can't remember it. Do most people remember it?
posted by frobozz at 7:51 PM on August 29, 2010


I thought she was going to talk about her first class of the day.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:04 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought this was very powerful, and I'm a bit shocked to see the lukewarm (if not entirely negative) response here. I thought it was very brave.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:23 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


She ain't no Lily Tomlin
posted by KokuRyu at 8:25 PM on August 29, 2010


For capturing the emotion of an intelligent young girl confronting the reality of menses on her own, I think she was wonderful. The books are not enough, and society still makes discussion difficult and embarrassing as demonstrated by the reactions above - my mom wouldn't say anything above a whisper, and it was very vague, and worsened it by the sentiment that "only fallen women use tampons" (which is what we were distributed for free at the school sex ed intro movie). Yes, it's disconcerting, but without it, none of us would be here. Let's stop acting like a natural part of being human is a shameful and disgusting freak show.
posted by figment of my conation at 10:47 PM on August 29, 2010


Seriously, did you guys actually listen to the whole thing? Prog kitsch? Banal? Are we so emotionally numbed to a woman's description of her own childhood sexual assault that these are the words we use to describe it? I guess I'm going to just hope that you didn't listen to the whole thing and see how she looped around on the concept of "bleeding". Sexual assault of children is sadly common, but I'd hate to see it become culturally "kitschy" or god forbid banal.

I was totally cheering her on. She wrote all this with the support of her family, which is incredible given how intentionally and unintentionally unsupportive her family appears in the narrative. It took her a lot of time and strength to reach a point where she can scream out: "What happened to me was not my fault." Good on her.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:12 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are we so emotionally numbed to a woman's description of her own childhood sexual assault that these are the words we use to describe it?

There's really no way to answer that. You've staked out a certain position and crafted it so that anyone who disagrees with you is an unfeeling monster.

Well, so be it then. Here's my thoughts:

She's obviously a talented writer with a gift for performing also. But yes, it was banal to hear yet another woman on stage celebrating the power of females and of course the vagina, while mocking males and the penis. Seriously, men act like babies from a little cut, but look at woman, the pain she can endure from a period? Banal. Again, I get that I'm not the target audience and that's ok. But those who claim their power by tearing others down or by lumping all others into a single category strike me as narrowed minded and worth giving a whole lot of thought to.

The story of her sexual assault was well told and certainly sad and of course I feel for her and the trauma that she endured. But the crappy anti-Bush haiku and the male mocking and anger, however justifiable and understandable, ultimately distanced me from her performance to the point that her final screaming of "It's not my fault!" seemed like a poorly staged and hollow moment that one could see coming from a mile off. I get that others may not view the performance that way and that's fine, it's great that she is reaching some people with a very worthwhile message. But for me the setup to those latter moments and realizations was so weak and trite that I can only see them as a performance and not a powerful and personal moment.

*goes back to monster cave*
posted by nomadicink at 6:08 AM on August 30, 2010


Hildegarde, you said it better than I ever could.

The reason the whole, "another woman complaining about men and saying how much better her vagina is" thing is so cliche is because stuff like this still happens. And when a woman talks about how she is disempowered because of her body, people ignore her. It's just easier to say, "you hurt your cousin in a visible way so you need to be punished," than it is to say, "your cousin raped you and that is very wrong."

I choose to believe that snarky, "yeah whatever' comments are coming from people who stopped watching 30 seconds in. Mostly because I cannot believe someone could watch the entire piece and not feel something .
posted by giraffe at 6:10 AM on August 30, 2010


I have nothing to say about her sexual assault because I was unable to watch/listen that far - it just wasn't interesting, not because it was about menarche, but because I listened to enough ranty people back in the day.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:34 AM on August 30, 2010


"Seriously, did you guys actually listen to the whole thing? Prog kitsch? Banal? Are we so emotionally numbed to a woman's description of her own childhood sexual assault that these are the words we use to describe it?"

Your choice of subject, as an artist, does not protect you from criticism. Bad writing can make anything banal.
posted by Theodore Sign at 7:25 AM on August 30, 2010


Bad anything, really.
posted by Theodore Sign at 7:26 AM on August 30, 2010


I guess you guys have never been to the Vagina Monologues.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2010


I liked the Vagina Monologues very much. This did not rise to that.
posted by nomadicink at 11:33 AM on August 30, 2010


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