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Women in formal medical roles and their impact on discourses surrounding menstruation, and their creation of a new narrative of menstrual capacity

This paper will examine the way that narratives of menstrual capacity and incapacity fluctuated in British medical ideology and cultural attitudes, looking to medical professionals, their research and the changing cultural frameworks present in Britain to explore these fluctuations. This will refute the, perhaps unconscious, 'whiggish history' assumption that the journey from narratives of incapacity to narratives of capacity was progressive and linear, and has reached completion in the global north. 

Alice Billington is a final year DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford. She is currently living and completing her PhD right at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand, with her young son. She is therefore spending a lot of her time working on zoom in the middle of the night. At Oxford she co-convenes the history of the gendered body graduate seminar series, which she co-founded with close friend and colleague Catherine Phipps. Her research is centered on menstruation, which she describes as a highly charged topic. A topic which can feel uncomfortable to discuss, even today, in 2021, when so much work has been done by feminist activism to de-stigmatise female coded bodies and their functions. Her research aims to demonstrate that throughout the 20th century this issue was demonstrably more acute, and to provide a historical context to today's menstrual activism. 


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