In most fiction, periods are rarely mentioned
. Speculative Fiction
normally does likewise, but on the rare occasions that it does mention menstration, the characters should tremble. Menstruation in SF holds great sway over supernatural powers.
SF periods serve as the trigger for every supernatural menace you can think of. Gruesome Body Horror
is the favorite, but a period can also serve as a source of great power (and great insanity
), a magnet for The Fair Folk
, a gateway to a hell dimension, or even a semi-sentient Reality Warper
. Periods also cause all sorts of supernatural powers, from Puberty Superpower
, to attunement to magic
. You're gonna need more than chocolate to sort this one out.
The Menstrual Menace
is particularly popular as a Monster of the Aesop
. Any monster evolving out of a girl's period will serve as an object lesson of how to deal with the pain of puberty.
If the moral is that Growing Up Sucks
, the whole cast will be dead or insane by the end. At the more idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
, defeating the Menstrual Menace
will be an Anvilicious
moral about the importance of abandoning childish things
Menstruation in Speculative Fiction
also causes mundane misery and angst, which tend to lead to stupid mistakes that create all of the previous supernatural problems.
The belief systems of some cultures have often incorporated a strong positive or negative supernatural significance to the phenomenon of menstruation.
This trope is for supernatural periods only; for trouble caused by mundane periods, see All Periods Are PMS
. Compare Women's Mysteries
. See also Hysterical Woman
and All Women Are Lustful
, two beliefs brought on by this very trope.
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Anime & Manga
- In Paranoia Agent, the problems are all due to a monster created from Sagi Tsukiko's guilt over a mistake she made while distracted by her first period.
- In the first season of Slayers, Lina Inverse has her powers of magic reduced by 99.9999999% for a few days due to her "Time of the Month", and this happens to all female magic wielders. It is never mentioned again. (The show turned out to have a larger female audience than expected, and the writers didn't want to offend them).
- This is also the one instance where Gourry understood pretty much immediately the reason behind something being wrong with Lina.
- In Karin, the eponymous character has a monthly release of blood...from her nose (unless, of course, she injects it into a human). The similarity to a menstrual cycle is frequently lampshaded, especially in the beginning.
- Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol has Dorothy Spinner, a mutant who creates imaginary friends with her powers. Due to trauma, she acts like she's a little girl. A period is enough to bring back her horrible memories, and the Candlemaker — a gruesome monster that only children and lunatics can see.
- Artist Richard Case also made sure to draw Dorothy with red shoes, a longtime symbol for menstruation and a woman's maturation (see Wizard of Oz).
- Back in the 80's there was a black and white comic called 'MS. PSM'. A woman is infected by an alien device that locks her into a permanent state of PMS; frazzled hair, bad attitude, super-human strength. The aliens were present too, wearing their environmental armor called P.A.N.T.I.E shields. This comic lasted about two issues. Yeah.
- Alan Moore's Swamp Thing story, "The Curse," draws parallels between menstruation and the traditional lunar-cycle-based activity of werewolves.
- In the The Dark Age of Comic Books there was an independent series, Crimson Plague, about a woman whose blood contained a virus capable of wiping out a planet in hours. Cut her, your whole world is dead. And since she's female, leave her alone for a month, you're still dead...
- In Suzy McKee Charnas' short story Boobs, the narrator, when she reaches puberty, changes into a werewolf for several nights per month instead of having periods.
- In the book Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin, every month before her period the main character, Jill, turns into a boy.
- In Piers Anthony's Xanth books, Chameleon changes according to her cycle. At one point in her cycle she is beautiful but dumb, at the opposite point, she is ugly but very smart and clever.
- Inverted in the Black Jewels series, where witches lose much of their power while menstruating.
- Justine Larbalestier's Liar also connects menstrual cycles and lycanthropy. There is a excellent scene in the book when the reader is certain that the parents are locking up their daughter for having her period.
- The title character of Stephen King's Carrie theretofore mild telekinetic powers become much stronger after her first period starts.
- Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire repeatedly suggest this as an explanation for Brienne's fierce fighting style. Their tone of voice while doing so tends to vary between misogynist mockery (if she's busy or out of earshot) and outright pants-wetting terror (if she's not).
Live Action TV
- Parodied in the second episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace. The sole female character has a psychotic break, then goes on a telekinetic rampage that kills several people. In the end, all is forgiven because she couldn't help herself — it was her inevitable female foolishness and hormones (as Thornton Reed puts it, "I think it's her time."). The point, of course, is that Marenghi is a sexist hack who thinks nothing of stealing the plot of Carrie and making it about how women's issues lead to death.
- In a bit sketch on The Young Ones, a young woman is sent to hell and threatened with all sorts of horrific punishments by a (female) devil. Then their dialogue shifts, as the scene is revealed to be a pain-reliever commercial on TV. The young woman goes on about "that strange washed-out feeling you just can't explain", but the devil confides that she's talking about period pains. Er, so PMS is so agonizing that it's comparable to being tortured in hell?
- Played for laughs in The IT Crowd, where Jen's very angry period sees her literally turn into some kind of hell-demon at some points. This results in the image of a red-and-white skinned woman in a business suit screaming things like "I CAN NEVER FIND A BLOODY PEN AROUND HERE!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgWhT9rDO2g
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Willow tells her new (werewolf) boyfriend Oz "Yeah, okay, werewolf. But three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either." Which was a bit of a shock moment, considering how shy and soft-spoken Willow normally is.
Myth And Legend
- Werewolf stories often have a Menstrual Menace, due to the days in a lunar cycle and a menstrual cycle.
- In the Ginger Snaps films, werewolf transformations serve as a metaphor for not just periods, but every unpleasant body change that comes with puberty. The first film sees Brigitte watching in horror as her sister goes through mood swings, hair on her body in all the wrong places...
- Peter S. Beagle wrote a short story titled Lila the Werewolf which purposely plays with the similarities between menstruation and lycanthropy.
- Angua is both the first woman and the first werewolf in the Ankh-Morpork Watch, which leads to a misunderstanding early on ("Is it because I'm a w...") Boyfriend Carrot mentions that he tends to stay out of the way around full moon.
- In Norse Mythology, Gjalp attempted to drown Thor in a torrent of her menstrual blood Though in later versions, it's not menstrual blood, but urine. In both versions, however, Thor stops the torrent by throwing a rock at her and plugging up... well, yes.
- In Celtic mythology, Maeve (or Medb, or whatever Walisic naming you deem correct) holds back her period (other versions: urine...now where did I heard that before?) until the Big Battle ends. And then it's flood time, too.
- In the Whateley Universe, superpowered mage Fey has her first case of PMS in her first few weeks at Superhero School Whateley Academy. This leads to thunderstorms, lightning bolts and rain. In the dorm hallways.
- For bonus points, all the magical fun also triggers menstrual discharge in every other girl in the dorm. Including the ones who had just finished with this month's visitor.
- And let's not forget Katie Ka-Boom from Animaniacs, who, even though they couldn't say it, was pretty obviously having some major PMS.
- Half-demon Callie in Ugly Americans undergoes "Painful Mortal Shedding", a process in which a female demon periodically molts her toxic flesh. The agony can only be minimized by near-constant sex with her boyfriend/human sex slave Mark. In the background of another episode, a calendar in Mark's apartment has two weeks marked as "Callie's Period", so apparently that's a bit different for demons, as well.
- There's a joke in the King of Fighters Fanon that the only time Leona transforms into her Riot of Blood form is during that time of the month.