A Review of Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World by Judy Grahn, Beacon Press Boston 1993

Memories of certain events from childhood can still be vivid in adulthood. I cannot exactly remember the years but like a face from a distant past some events lurk. A certain young girl, dark in colour and somewhat short in stature, whose guardian was known to our family was brought into our home to see whether she would grow out of her affliction. She seemed to show some strange behaviours. This case was discussed by me in the book, the lure of noma [1]. Being a young boy then, I neither knew what puberty meant nor whether the girl was at puberty. From my viewpoint today, given her looks and the social status it was likely. My memory says that she was only referred to as a girl not a woman. Girls at puberty especially maidservants were known to have the tendency for such strange behaviours. That experience subconsciously led me to my work on puberty rites.

I am now ashamed that I didn’t refer to Blood Bread and Roses by Ms. Judy Grahn in my writings, before this review now being written about ten years after first expressing my opinions on the rituals of menarche. I admire Late Prof. Stephen Jay Gould for his pioneering views about the scientific knowledge. All good ideas need not to be in the form of tightly written journal articles. He set an example by being bold enough to write some of his brilliant scientific opinions for popular columns. I understand almost all of the academic community treat my ideas expressed in a series of accessible papers on the subject of seclusion of girls at puberty with certain amount of disdain. I am neither a feminist nor an anthropologist. I am neither European nor a scholar on European archaeology nor art. I am neither an academic nor a person with any acclaimed credentials like a well-known scientist, philosopher,  writer or a poet. Thus, I didn’t have any standing whatsoever above Ms. Grahn’s was to ignore her work. Today, I feel being unfair to the book  I am now reviewing. In spite of all of that, I then thought I had a reason. When I first came across Ms. Grahn’s book, the authour’s view that menstrual blood attracting dogs led to the seclusion of girls by sending them up trees or into thickets made me really weary of her work. I believe this is unfair treatment of her work on my part and irrespective of my strong reservations, I should have read and mentioned this book in my previous work. But I am glad that I am now making amends to correct that omission. To facts to emerge all opinions should be pondered upon.

Full review as an open source document can be found at Humanities Commons

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The website aims to show the possible origin of religion through a ‘uniquely’ human process which has links to the seclusion of girls at puberty. It also advocates the view that the Paleolithic Venus figurines are related to these puberty rites and hence, the prehistoric Venus figurines may carry a much larger meaning. Thus, Religion is something more than a throwback from our animal past.
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