Women’s Studies 201 Ch. 01


This story deals with periods and menstruating in some detail. If this subject offends you, please proceed no further.


The Menstruators

Lynn Owens and Marsha Jaspers had decided to become women’s studies majors after rooming together freshman year. At 19, they both liked the idea of learning more about what women could do in an expanding world for everyone and were not turned off by the frequently-bruited criticism they heard that the field was dominated by lesbians.

They both had boyfriends, and their making sure that they spent good times with them, especially on weekends, did not diminish their enjoyment of each other’s pleasures during the quiet week nights. Lynn was tall and lithe, with a runner’s build and short blonde hair; Marsha was curvier and brunette, usually observed smiling and reflecting her own satisfaction with her life.

As sophomores entering the major, however, they were now taking Women’s Studies 101: Introduction, which was taught by a striking young faculty member, Prof. Kate Sullivan. They really did not know what to expect because it turned out that none of the junior or senior women in the major would say anything about the course.

Prof. Sullivan turned out to be a striking blonde in her 40s. She strode into the classroom filled with about 65 sophomores all of whom knew as little about the course as Lynn and Marsha. This was by intention. Prof. Sullivan wanted her students to bring an open mind to the course and also not to be expecting the somewhat unconventional activities she would include in her pedagogy.

She began by telling the students that they would be learning about what it means to be a woman.

“You will observe that there are only women in this class,” she stated bluntly. “I should note that I do not discriminate against transgendered women if they are willing to subject themselves to what this course features,” she added, which certainly left the class searching for meaning.

She then gave out a syllabus which was somewhat vague in its discussion of topics, Lynn realized. “You will see that there is an e-mail address to which you may send me your submissions,” Prof. Sullivan went on. “You will begin by going to the class website and completing a profile which you will submit. Please do make a copy for yourself, either electronic or paper. You will find some of the questions to be embarrassing. Remember that this is a class comprised only of women. I also expect you to keep everything discussed her to yourselves. That, I admit, is unusual. Nothing done here is illegal. But the only way I have found for us to consider subjects sometimes regarded as taboo or excessively controversial or even unsavory is to have everyone agree to this agreed-upon confidentiality. If you feel you cannot agree, please leave now and regard the situation as if you had never been here.”

No one moved. “Some of you will definitely feel that I am embarrassing you by asking personal questions, discussing intimate matters, using language you may find offensive, and asking you to expose yourselves physically,” the instructor went on. “I do not want you to feel under any compulsion. So I will repeat my previous offer that provides you may leave, drop this course, and proceed with your life and your degree as you see fit with no negative impact.”

“Now, I will begin today’s class for real,” Prof. Sullivan resumed.

“This course is dedicated to educating young women about being a woman. Few of you have really investigated what being a woman means. Few of you have even bothered to look at your genitals. I enjoy that advertisement that declares that 75 percent of women are wearing a bra that does not fit them properly. We will proceed to consider what makes women different from men psychologically as well as anatomically. We will explore what differences are cultural and which might be instinctive or sex-determined…”


Lynn and Marsha left the class not sure what was going to happen next time.

“I’m wondering how we are likely to be embarrassed,” Lynn said.

“Maybe we will have to strip in front of everyone,” Marsha responded.

“Do you really think that’s what she was talking about?” Lynn answered with a question.

“Let’s look at the online site,” Marsha said.

They pulled it up and saw a nice picture of the professor and then a link to “Required Profile Form for Women’s Studies 101 Students.”

Marsha clicked and a form with questions and blank spaces to answer them appeared.

“Look at this,” Marsha said. “She asks ‘At what age did you get your period? Where did Maltepe Fetiş Escort it happen? What form of protection do you use now? Are you regular? Fill in your bust, waist, and hip measurements. How many times a day do you urinate and defecate? What kind of panties do you usually wear: full brief, thong, hicut, bikini, other, none? ”

“Pretty personal, I’d say,” she added.

“Yes,” Lynn agreed, “but that sounds like what she was talking about.”

“Look at this,” Marsha went on. “She’s telling us we have to advise her by e-mail when we get our periods and when they end. Beginning today. I get mine next week so I guess I have a reprieve on that.”

“Oh, God,” Lynn moaned, “I’m expecting mine any time now. Do you think she’ll use me as a…model or something? I might be up there showing her and the class…my used tampon?”

“Yikes,” Marsha grinned. “This really could be a different kind of class. I’m starting to see why there are no men and we are told not to say anything about what goes on there.”

“And look at this,” Lynn exclaimed. “We’re supposed to come to class wearing a simple white blouse and short skirt, with plain white panties! Tell me that’s not pretty weirdo?”

“This is definitely going to be different,” Marsha repeated, “but maybe it will be fun.”


The two girls arrived early so they could find seats in the middle of the classroom.

Prof. Sullivan walked in calmly right on the hour and suddenly, the chattering girls in the class fell silent.

“One attribute of femininity that is exclusively so is menstruation,” she began. “Our objective is to demystify this process, which has been so hidden and regarded as shameful in our society. You may be aware that feminists have already approached this task by celebrating their ‘moon-time’ and doing everything to strip away the veneer of shame that mostly male society has placed on this totally natural function.

“I plan each Monday to invite those of you who are having your periods to sit up here in a row which will be designated as ‘Reserved for Menstruaters,'” Prof. Sullivan declared. “I have entered the data you have provided in your profiles so based on that, it appears that we may have as many as five Menstruators here today. Would you five please come up and sit in this row?”

The five girls slowly rose and started to walk toward the front of the class, where Prof. Sullivan apparently had arranged for there to be placed a row of well-cushioned chairs, with a low long table in front of this row. The five sat in these comfortable chairs and then Prof. Sullivan told them to lift their skirts up above their waists, lower their panties, and place their feet up on the low table in front of them.

They look surprised and a bit afraid of what appeared to be developing as something of a display of their most private body parts, but each of the girls, who ran the gamut from tall to short and lean to curvy, as well as presenting five quite different hairstyles.

Prof. Sullivan stood in front of the low table and continued, “You will learn from this class that no two women menstruate in exactly the same way. Some, for example, definitely know from body signals when their periods will start while others are always surprised even if they keep a careful record in their calendars. Now, I will ask each of you a few questions and I’d like you to answer in turn for the rest of the class.”

She turned to the class and said, “I’d prefer that no one take notes right now, just to make our five Menstruators feel a bit safer in this exercise.”

She proceeded to pose her first question and indicated that she wished each girl to answer in turn each question.

“First, tell me when your period started, at what time of day, and how you knew it had begun,” she asked.

The first girl, Olivia Manning, who was short and dark-complexioned, answered shyly, “Miss, er, Professor, I began mine yesterday at about eleven in the morning and”—she stopped for a moment—”I knew I had it when I felt a damp feeling in my panties.”

“Thank you, Olivia,” Prof. Sullivan said with a warm smile. “Now, our next Menstruator.”

The second was Jane Ashcorn, who was ash-blonde to suit her surname and wearing a stylish chenille blouse and warm suede skirt.

“Professor, I started two days ago and I only knew it when I woke up and there was this gush into my undies when I started to move out of bed,” she related, without much show of embarrassment.

“Very well, Jane,” Prof. Sullivan smoothly picked up the answer and turned to the next girl, Ruthann Maltepe Gecelik Escort Winston, red-haired and of average height but well-proportioned.

“I started yesterday, Professor, and I was about to leave the form for dinner when the cramps I had been having seemed to subside but I had that feeling that it had arrived, the way it usually makes me feel slightly wet in my panty crotch even though I hadn’t used the toilet,” Ruthann described.

“That’s quite comprehensive, Ruthann, thank you,” the professor said. “Now, Andra, you’re next,” she said, looking at a slight pasty-faced girl who seemed quite surprised to be on display as she was.

It took Andra a moment to get her bearings, but she finally managed to respond, “Professor, I started my period three days ago, and I think it was after my first class, so I went to the ladies and saw when I was in the stall that it had begun.” She now started to whimper and put her face in her hands.

“Thank you, Andra, and please, don’t be ashamed, because I’m asking you these questions so that everyone may see that there is no clear pattern for when and how periods start. Sometimes it happens when you are asleep and sometimes it starts slowly, but it may gush right out.”

She looked now at the last girl, Taylor Prentice, who was taller than average, with sandy-blondish hair and wearing a navy jumper over her white blouse.

“Miss, I got mine this morning,” Taylor began confidently, “before I left for breakfast so I went into the dorm bathroom and took care of it. I knew I had it because it was supposed to arrive now and I did feel a slight twinge in my side.”

“Thank you, Taylor, and thank you, all of the Menstruators,” Prof. Sullivan said warmly. “Now, I want each of you to keep your legs well apart so everyone can see you and then in turn, please tell me what protection you are using. Then you will either extract your tampon or remove your pad from your panties and hold it up so the class can see how soiled each is.”

A frisson of embarrassment now could be discerned among the five Menstruators and throughout the classroom. The girls began to wonder whether they were up to dealing with Prof. Sullivan’s incredibly intimate invasion of their most private matters but gradually, the class calmed down.

This time, Prof. Sullivan started at Taylor’s end of the row. The confident Taylor had extracted her tampon and held it up so the class could see that the smallish tampon had several pronounced dark-red streaks on it, especially at the inside end.

“I’ve been using Tampax Slender Regulars for some time now,” Taylor said plainly.

“Did you begin with those when you first got your period?” Prof. Sullivan asked.

“No,” Taylor answered with the same brio, “my mom gave me some pads when I first got my period but my friends who had already started told me about tampons very soon.”

“Thank you, Taylor,” Prof. Sullivan continued, turning to the shy Andra.

“Professor,” Andra began haltingly, holding up a fairly large maxipad, “I use these maxipads, Always, usually, and I’ve been using them since I started because that’s what my mother gave me and she had given my sister, who’s three years older.”

“Thank you, Andra,” Prof. Sullivan said, with another smile, recognizing how difficult a girl like Andra found it to go through this exercise.

Ruthann was next and she held up her large tampon. “This is my heavy day, Professor,” she said, “so I use a Super-plus today. I’ve been using tampons for several years. My mother and older sisters use them and after I started, they told me that pads were fine but that I would probably find these better. Usually I use a regular-sized tampon but today I need this one.” The group could see that her thick tampon was well-soaked with blackish-red menstrual fluid.

Jane responded without being prompted, and told the group that she used a menstrual cup. She was not afraid to reach into her vagina and extract the cup, holding it in front of her. It was partly filled and Prof. Sullivan brought a trash receptacle in front of her and held it out for her to empty the cup, which she did as discreetly as was possible under these circumstances.

“For how long have you used that?” Prof. Sullivan inquired.

“I began using it when I came here to school,” Jane answered. “I had been using tampons but a friend actually mentioned that she found this much more effective and didn’t need changing, or emptying, as often.”

Thanking her, Prof. Sullivan turned to Olivia.

Holding up a thoroughly soaked pad, with blotches of dark Maltepe Genç Escort red and brown splotches, Olivia said, “This is my pad I put on this morning, because it’s my heaviest day. Sometimes I also wear a tampon today too, but so far, this has done the job, Miss.”

“Thank you all for showing us your protection,” Prof. Sullivan said calmly. “Now you may take out a new tampon or pad and show us in turn how you insert the tampon or place the pad in your underpants. Jane, you may put your cup back in when it is your turn.”

“First,” Prof. Sullivan said, “the three of you who use tampons may show us how you insert them.”

The three girls slowly positioned themselves by placing one leg up on the low table and keeping their legs well apart, held the tampon in one hand and with the other, held their labia apart while they inserted the tampons with applicators and pushed the plungers to place the tampon where it was headed in their vaginas. This all proceeded without much problem, apparently.

Then Andra, when signaled by Prof. Sullivan, unwrapped a new Always maxi and attached it to the crotch inside her plain white panties and pulled them up.

Finally, Jane grasped the cup dexterously in her fingers and holding her labia open, put her fingers followed by the hand into her vagina far enough so she get the cup positioned at the end of her cervix.

Prof. Sullivan looked over the room and motioned to a tall, sandy-haired girl, who stood and walked to the front. When she reached the row of Menstruators, Prof. Sullivan introduced her.

“This is Judy,” she said warmly, “who has agreed to show us how women protected themselves during menstruation in our mother’s day.”

Judy was wearing a flared navy skirt with a plain white blouse. She unzipped and removed the skirt and looked ashamed but only for a moment. She now stood there in her dark blue full-cut panties, wearing something beneath them. Slightly blushing, she pulled down the panties.

Pointing to the thin, white, elastic belt she had on, Prof. Sullivan told the class: “This is called a sanitary belt. It was what women wore when menstruating during the first half of the 20th century and a few years later. As you can see, Judy has a large tabbed pad attached to the clips on the belt. This pad was called a sanitary napkin. Women would slip the napkin onto the belt and pull it right up so it rested between their legs.

“Judy was good enough to use the belt and napkin for her period,” Prof. Sullivan went on. “How did you find it worked, dear?”

Judy grimaced and said, “I volunteered because my grandmother used one of these and showed it to me when I first got my period. She warned me about how the belt would let the napkin move around sometimes which was an understatement! My panties got stained and I never really knew if the napkin and belt were where they were supposed to be.”

Prof. Sullivan motioned to her to pull down the belt. Judy lowered the waist belt and the class could see that the napkin had quite a lot of soiling with very dark red, almost blackish coloring. Then Judy showed them the panty crotch and everyone groaned when they saw almost as much staining on the panty as on the napkin!

“You can see that women had it rough with these, which were often called Kotex belts, because Kotex was the best-selling brand of napkin worn with them,” Prof. Sullivan explained. “These were still being worn by baby-boomers into the 50s until the pads that adhered to your panties were introduced. Tampons were first sold in the 1920s but many women wouldn’t use them because they were afraid to stick something into their vaginas.”

“I’d like to thank our first Menstruators, including Judy, today,” Prof. Sullivan then said with a broad smile, “and invite them to return to their seats.” Each of the five girls let her skirt down now and trying to look in another direction, returned to where she had been sitting. Judy also put her panties and skirt back on and went back to where she had been sitting.

“I have a question for everyone now,” she continued. “How many of you are sexually experienced, in other words, not virgins?”

About three-quarters of the room raised their hands.

“That’s the usual proportion for this class,” she commented. “Now how many of you who raised their hands have had sex during your period?”

Now a seemingly embarrassed seven girls raised their hands.

“Thank you,” Prof. Sullivan said. “Next time, I’d like to hear from you all why you have or haven’t had period sex. Now remember, this is the kind of discussion which I would like to remain here in this room. I will be quite angry if I find that anyone is gossiping or even mentioned anything that is brought up here. I assure you that I do not take this lightly and anyone who violates the confidence I have discussed as mandatory in this class will suffer some severe consequences.”

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