My Body, My Marriage
By Nicolas Quiazua and Lily Hoffman
Menstrual fluid is socially taboo; the first time an adolescent menstruates, (she) is celebrated for having achieved ‘womanhood,’ and now being capable of procreation. During the rest of a woman’s life, menstruation is repressed. It is deemed the source of bitterness and other behaviours unacceptable to the male social order. The pathology and social construction of PMS is but one example.
Similarly, a woman’s femininity is said to be realized when she becomes the material and emotional property of her husband. The husband is supposed to make her bleed by breaking her hymen, a rare time in a woman’s life where a bodily secretion are permitted to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Although different substances, both menstrual fluids and the blood of a hymen are ‘natural’ secretions that are co-opted to serve male ownership, pride and capitalist culture.
A wedding dress symbolizes feminine purity and achievement, imbued with class privilege and hetero-patriarchal tropes. Its’ white colour, easily displays the blood of the hymen and reinforces the idea of the necessity for a woman to prove her virginity upon marriage.
So, I poured my menstrual fluid all over a wedding dress, and explored the beauty in decaying settings. My body is my own, and I refuse to let it be subject to the hetero-patriarchal institution of marriage, ownership, and purified beauty. My vagina and its secretions deserve to be celebrated, at the expense of commodified, patriarchal prescribed femininity.
This photo essay is an attempt to navigate my identity as a queer, anti-capitalist, feminist, female-assigned-at-birth person. It has given me the space to question what elements of my prescribed femininity I wish to celebrate, and on what terms.
There are limitations, of course, to this perspective; not all women menstruate, not all women have vaginas.
Despite these limitations, I hope this project can inspire folks to reflect on how they relate to (their own or others’) femininity, and its intersections with consumer culture, capitalist social relations, state-controlled institutions, and heterosexism.
Follow Nic on Twitter @NicolasQuiazua.