Currencies of blood and laws of the land
This chapter will give an overview of how secondary amenorrhea and menstruation are used as symbols in different realms, from religion to history, politics to medicine. We shall look at the ways in which they are understood by humankind, often polarised at either end of the omnipotent/impotent spectrum. They can be the yin to each other’s yang. Secondary amenorrhea is in its own right and by way of association with menstruation undeniably suggestive of a presence of something rich in symbolism with a multiplicity of narratives and identities. We will look at portraiture of women and menses from 15,000 bce to the present day and show man’s hijacking and woman’s reclaiming of menses. Examples from anthropology and feminist theory acknowledge events of the body as important. Turning to literature, we shall look at the experiences of Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, Lady Macbeth, Sarah and Hannah from the Old Testament, and Bertha Mason as told and interpreted by historians, writers of literature, politicians, and male and female commentators. Today discussions revolve around the transgender community and it is imperative that we continue to explore what it means to be “other”. Psychoanalysis enables this.