For a Patronizing Response to My Post About Menstruation,

see Ann Bartow (Feminist Law Professors). For the life of me, I can't grasp exactly what her disagreement is with my position (see here for the post to which she's responding, and here for my original post, to which the other post was a follow-up). But apparently she does disagree.

As for me, I found the comments to the Conspiracy post far more enlightening, though Prof. Bartow thinks the commenters are largely lying about their sex, for no reason that I can identify.

Oh, and then there's this from Prof. Bartow: "One thing I've learned is that if you want all the men to leave a room at breakneck speak, just uttering the word 'uterus' will sometimes do the trick." Huh, never seen that happen, but maybe I just hang out with the wrong crowd.

UPDATE: A commenter at IsThatLegal? came to my defense, writing, "Ann Bartow isn't being exactly fair. Some guy said something kinda stupid, and Volokh replied: 'Oh, really? Lets ask actual women about menstruation. So, women, how about it? Is it a life affirming shared cultural experience?' That's an entirely reasonable response." Prof. Bartow responded with this comment:

Well here's the thing, Patrick: There is a whole lot of diverse and interesting literature that has been *already written* that could bring Eugene up to speed a whole lot more effectively than the commenters at the Volokh conspiracy, if he was actually sincere about educating himself about menstruation. And I'm pretty sure UCLA has at least one library. It even has a Women's Studies Department, not that I would ever expect Eugene to think he could learn anything from the faculty there.

Now I'm extra puzzled. I asked women readers for their personal life experiences, hoping that the responses would confirm my view (which is that few women would find that voluntarily stopping menstruation would "subtract perceived meaning from [their] lives") or correct my view if my view was mistaken, and in the process enlighten other readers on the question. I had thought this sort of give-and-take with readers would be fun and interesting.

Why didn't I instead read the "diverse and interesting literature" on the subject? Because asking people questions about their experiences — going to the library, and finding and reading the relevant scholarly articles — is often (1) more pleasant, (2) easier, and (3) more enlightening to other readers, who'll see the answers right there on the blog. True, systematic research has its advantages; but sometimes conversation has its advantages, too. Why didn't I ask people at the Women's Studies Department? Maybe because it would have been a bit of an imposition on colleagues' time (and, if I asked for personal experiences about menstruation, might have be seen by some of them as somewhat intrusive), whereas a query to readers is not such an imposition, since it's very easy for any reader to take or leave.

What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?

FURTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, for a serious, thoughtful, and interesting response to the original question, see this from Christine Hurt (Conglomerate).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. For a Patronizing Response to My Post About Menstruation,
  2. Seeking Input from People Who Have Actually Menstruated:
  3. Pill That Ends Menstruation: