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Jennifer Henning



B.A. (Hons) (Political Science and Sociology), University of Western Ontario
M.A. (Sociology), Memorial University of Newfoundland


Dr. Ailsa Craig

Supervisory Committee

Dr. Nicole Power
Dr. Linda Cullum

Thesis Title

A Menstrual Option: An Examination of how Cultural Understandings of Menstruation, the Body, and Reproductive Health Influence Women's Menstrual Suppression Decision-Making


My research focuses on how women negotiate and employ cultural constructions of menstruation in managing and experiencing their periods. Current research has identified menstrual suppression as a new phenomenon in women's health practice; however, it has failed to provide an adequate qualitative investigation of the reasons why women have chosen to suppress and/or eliminate their menses. While previous understandings have constructed menstruation as a woman's hygiene issue, the increased medicalization of women's bodies has helped to establish medical remedies for women's natural cycles. I will argue that the cultural understandings of secrecy and concealment that envelop menstrual definitions have worked to weaken social movements that have attempted to normalize menstruating. As a result of this, emphasis has been placed onto women's bodies to alter their physiology in order to satisfy an intolerant society. Unlike other natural bodily happenings (flu, illness, disability, etc.), women's menstrual cycles have been subjected to biopolitical strategies that have worked to contain and limit the bodies of women. To corroborate or disprove this, I will investigate the lay-expertise of menstrual management within a context where women's knowledge is often subjugated by dominant medical discourses and capitalistic models.

Research Interests

Gender and the body
Cultural sociology
Qualitative research methods