Review: Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf

10:08 PM

Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf | ★★★☆☆

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I wanted to like this book. As a woman, as a feminist. I really did. And in many ways, I did. At least, I appreciate the general message behind it. This review has been on the back-burner for me because despite having finished the book itself months ago, I couldn't quite understand what I wanted to say during my review. Periods Gone Public is a bit of a mixed bag for me and for a while, I couldn't put my finger on what I wanted to say.

Recently, I stumbled upon a review of the book by some-one else and it really spoke what I couldn't about the list of negatives that came with Jennifer Weiss-Wolf's prose and where the novel failed for me, personally. The first thing I should say before directing you to this specific review and continuing on with my own thoughts about Periods Gone Public is that I didn't necessarily hate the book. Truly, I didn't, and I want to acknowledge the premise and story behind it as something that is highly relevant and necessary when it comes to feminine care and health. 

So, let's get down to the nitty gritty--I want to quote a review by Nenia on Goodreads. Not everything in her review stands true to me (Cringe. Tumblr poetry? Tumblr feminism? Don't make me laugh.) but there was a section that felt like it was very worth pointing out. You can find her at the link above or on her blog here:

So the fact that I agreed with this book and still didn't like it says something. What does it say? The author - in my opinion - did not write a very good book. I'd say 85% of the problem was tone. It's super ironic that she quotes Andi Zeisler's WE WERE FEMINISTS, which is a condemnation of people who commandeer the feminist movement to promote their own personal agenda, because Weiss-Wolf toots her own horn in PERIODS GONE PUBLIC a lot. We get to hear about all the projects she participates in - and yes, that's wonderful. But also not what I wanted to read about. And the way she talks about it is a bit difficult to explain, but to me it felt a little smarmy. Especially when she refers to low-income individuals as "the poor." It came across as sounding very privileged to me, which made reading this book unpleasant.

Which pretty much nails my thoughts straight down. There was a lot to the tone that was off-putting for me and for much of the book, I couldn't get past this. There were occasions when I had to pull my focus back because I found the prose to be insufferable and very, very painful. Because, sometimes, you need to handle topics with a certain level of care--and I felt like this book just didn't. 

(Not to mention, it felt to drag on in some parts. In the way that brought no information to the pages in question, only continuing to explore the previous topics--without providing anything new to the narrative.) 

It wasn't the worst thing to read, mind you, but it could have been so much more than it was. A lot of problematic moments. 

Back to the positives:
  • I do appreciate what the author was trying to accomplish with the book. Further, I appreciate what she does in her day-to-day life for many reasons. I think that frank discussion of every-thing related to menstruation is very, very important. And a lot can be said. And a lot needs to be done. My criticisms about the way this book was penned is not at all directed at the author's accomplishments and I do want to acknowledge that. 
  • I mean, the fact that talking about periods is still considered to be a taboo in modern society? I cringe. Weiss-Wolf is one of the many people who want to, rightfully, knock that shit down. It is long overdo. Where there are many questionable portions of this book, I am here for all of the conversations this will bring to the forefront. 
  • I'm not a fan of the way she refers to low-income/homeless women in need for feminine care and hygiene, but the fact that she is taking the time to remind people of these issues in our society is--point blank--fantastic. For a lot of people, it's not a thought that crosses their mind due to their own privilege. Anyone willing to shine the light on that narrative, spread awareness and hopefully lead the charge of change is pretty damn awesome in my eyes. 
  • Flaws aside, it will nudge readers in the right direction to talk more about what it means to have a period and how it effects others in the world. And that is so, so, so important. 

I definitely think that Periods Gone Public is a book that is worth looking into.

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