Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Anemone

Second Advisor

Dr. David Karowe

Third Advisor

Dr. Erika Loeffler

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis offers a reinterpretation of the human female menstrual cycle that understands the process as positive, functional, and practical experience. Standard western definitions and understandings of menstruation use negative terminology and focus on menstrual blood as an indicator of failed conception. This view contributes significantly to the negative perception women have of menstruation in general, their own menstrual cycles, and ultimately of their femaleness. This fundamental, physiological process that symbolizes femaleness, the menstrual cycle, has been defined both, bio-medically and culturally, as a negative experience. I propose a reconceptualization of the menstrual cycle that is not only a tool for both men and women to perceive menstruation in a positive light, but also one that is culturally acceptable and physiologically viable. This thesis questions definitions of oestrus and the human female exclusion from those definitions based on incongruities between definitions of oestrus and current understandings of the human female reproductive and sexual cycles. This thesis is based on original ideas and existing ideas, emerging in but not limited to anthropology, medicine, primatology, biology and feminism.

Included in

Anthropology Commons