Aarhus University Seal

Cash Flow: The Business of Menstruation since 1940

Gendering in Research Network: Talk by Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik, Modern and Contemporary Art History, University of Aberdeen

Info about event


Wednesday 8 December 2021,  at 11:00 - 13:00




Menstruation has been good business in the Global North for at least one hundred years. Scholars have examined the role of corporations, attitudes, advertising and anti-consumerist backlash in shaping the culture of ‘menstrual capitalism’. However, little attention has been given to the people who work in this industry and who make products such as tampons and pads. In this paper, I present findings from a larger History research project about menstrual commercialisation in the twentieth-and twenty-first centuries, focused on the labourers behind the brands. In doing so I ask what we can learn about menstruation by studying those who create menstrual products,and explore the opportunity for solidarity across corporate, union and activist lines. Focusing on who made the businesses of menstruation possible sheds light on the working-class history behind menstrual capitalism, and reveals how contemporary debatesabout menstrual stigma, period poverty, and corporate control has deep historical routes. To do so, I will focus on visual and textual documentation from these workers from Norway, Sweden, Soviet Russia, Europe and the United States from 1940 to 1980, presenting a visual and archival analysis of this material and its role in Critical Menstruation Studies.


Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik is Lecturer of Modern & Contemporary Art History at the University of Aberdeen, and the PI of the Wellcome Trust-funded UK Menstruation Research Network. 
Her forthcoming book is titled Cash Flow: The Business of Menstruation since 1940 (UCL Press, 2022).