Ephemeral Films: Menarche

August 17th, 2008 by Perfesser Deviant

Ephemeral Films: Menarche   menstru disney cr reviews documentary Menarche, for those of you who do not know, is the name of the time when women first begin menstruation. Since any topic even vaguely related to sex is considered embarrassing for many American parents to discuss with their children (though not too embarrassing to do to get children in the first place), public schools have stepped in to educate children on these important facts. Since many teachers are just as squeamish, industrial filmmakers put together films that teachers could easily show to a class and then answer questions (or refer questions to provided booklets), leaving all the awkward heavy-lifting to the film.

Plus these films cut down on weird loner telekinetic teenagers destroying the entire senior class after being doused in pig’s blood.

Films Discussed (all with links for online viewing): The Story of Menstruation / Molly Grows Up / It’s Wonderful Being a Girl / Naturally… a Girl / All Women Have Periods


The Story of Menstruation

Director: None Credited
Writer: None Credited
Release Year: 1946

From an unholy alliance of Disney and Kotex comes thee.

An animated film for young girls about to start their menses, this film amusingly reflects the attitudes of the time. The first half is limited but factual information on the physical process of menstruation. It is limited in that it leaves out how an egg is fertilized and useful informatEphemeral Films: Menarche   the story of menstruation reviews documentary ion on cramping, spotting, bleeding, etc. Instead it moves into safe territory of reinforcing strict gender roles reminding girls to always stay clean and showing housewives cleaning and brides along with the choice line about PMS “and once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those days in your stride you’ll find it’s easier to keep smiling and even-tempered.” Wow. Perhaps the line should have been “and once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those days in your stride you’ll find it’s easier to keep smiling and even-tempered because crushing your feelings deep within and having no opinions of your own is the right thing for a girl to do.”

Perhaps I am being too hard on this film, after all, for the USA in the 1940s it is remarkably frank. On second thought, no, I’m not being too hard on it, it was nothing more that a way for Disney to make some money while reinforcing a woman’s role in the turbulent post-World War II America after women had been enjoying far too much freedom while the men were off at war. It was also a way for Kotex to ensure that they kept their market share by getting young girls from the moment that they needed “feminine products”. Or am I too cynical?

Entire Film:



Molly Grows Up

: Charles Larrance
: D.M. Hatfield Ph.D.
Release Year
: 1953

Peggy, of course I can’t go swimming! You know I’ve got the curse!

Molly (Betsy Hawkins) is a teenager who has just gotten her first period. Her mother (Jane Taylor) gets excited and her father (Joe Miksak) has a freak-out moment about hisEphemeral Films: Menarche   molly grows up reviews documentary little girl, but finally says “She IS growing up” in a way most creepy. Miss Jensen (Wendy Larance), the school nurse, gives a very accurate discussion of basic physiology and mentions sperm! Heavens to Betsy! Like so many of these films, the medical insight is a bit questionable, especially when it implies that one can get a cold from being cold. Yeah.

Johnson & Johnson made this film to help young girls buy Johnson & Johnson products … I mean, to inform young girls. As far as these films go, it’s better than usual although it is acted rather than a strict documentary. This is worth seeing just for the ‘sanitary belt’ which was in use before pads had adhesive strips and looked, more or less, like a much less sexy garter belt. Neat!


Part 1:

Part 2:


It’s Wonderful Being a Girl

Director: None Credited
: None Credited
Release Year
: 1968

How did you know?

Libby’s mother will not buy her a nice dress because she still has her “little girl looks” unlike her friend Jean; soon though, Libby starts. Just because Libby is menstruating dEphemeral Films: Menarche   its wonderful being a girl reviews documentary oes mean she cannot go bowling, while terrible music plays in the background, does it? No, despite the big red ball (weird that) she does fine, but later has to listen to a lecture given by a teacher who has suffered from too many elocution lessons; her speech sounds about as natural as Tony Curtis’! This annoying narration is played over an animation that shows the female reproductive system working and is followed by the usual advice: use a calendar, bathe often, cramping is mild, etc. Luckily for the girls, Johnson & Johnson provides a book for them to plot their course.

Again, these films are nothing but an informative commercial (maybe I could combine those two words together … hmm … I have it! I’ll call it a ‘confirmation’!) in which girls are told that everything is fine and natural and not to dwell on cramps or the subjugation of women. As long as they stay clean, pretty, and sweet-smelling, their lives will be complete.

Most of the Film:

Naturally… a Girl

Director: None Credited
: None Credited
Release Year
: 1973

Welcome to the multicultural 1970s.

Our good friends at Johnson & Johnson have provided us with a new, hip version of The Story of Menstruation that seems to skirt plagiarism. It starts by asking girls (and a Ephemeral Films: Menarche   naturally a girl reviews documentary ew boys) what menstruation is followed by their embarrassed replies. It then goes on to show how menstruation works (although I would, personally, not trust a film that does not know the difference between the vagina and the cervix) while carefully leaving out the whole sex and pregnancy thing. Like most of these films, this one exists to hawk feminine care products and ensures that all young girls know that changing a pad should be done every two hours to avoid FEMININE ODOR! Yeah. Bathing helps with that as well (and I am sure you can find some delightful Johnson & Johnson products for that).

This film is quite different from the others in that it includes non-white girls in the discussion. Though the narrator is your standard-issue motherly WASP voice, the girls all give their views. Oddly, none of the girls get moody or have bad cramps, but I suppose that is to be expected when a camera is pointed at you. See it for the cool 70s feel and the generally real-looking girls giving real-sounding opinions.

Part 1:

Part 2:


All Women Have Periods

Director: None Credited
: None Credited
Release Year
: 1979

Repeating dialog word for word is fun!

Jill, a young girl with Down syndrome, wonders about menstruation and so she asks her mother. Her mother replies that “All women have periods” and Jill seems deliEphemeral Films: Menarche   all women have periods 300x217 reviews documentary ghted at this news. She asks her older sister Susie about menstruation and sis replies with the exact same response that their mother gave. Jill then asks her father about periods and he gives the exact same response that both women gave (except, of course, that he does not have them himself). Jill is so delighted by all this fun that Susie offers to take her into the bathroom to show her how to use a pad. They go through the complex procedure and then Jill tries it out. She then goes back to petting her dog.

Words alone cannot convey the utter guilty hilarity of this film. Now, laughing at a girl with Down syndrome is not nice and honestly she doesn’t do anything funny (aside from being enthusiastic), but the other people in the film are hilarious in their earnest recitation of banal, identical dialog. For fans of ephemeral films, this is a must see.

Entire Film:


Fun link: http://www.mum.org/index.html

Fun educational pics:

Ephemeral Films: Menarche   menstru pms cr reviews documentary

Ephemeral Films: Menarche   menstru wrong reviews documentary

Ephemeral Films: Menarche   menstru tampon reviews documentary




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