What woman forgets the moment of discovering her first period? The shock? Fear? Panic? Loathing? Embarrassment? Pride? Happiness?
First Blood examines the ways in which women from countries as diverse as India and Sri Lanka, England, the Philippines, Greece, Italy, Uganda, Indonesia, Fiji, Chile, Ukraine, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, recall this moment of menarche and what it meant to them, their families, and their societies.
What is the mystique of women’s first blood? Who created the meanings associated with menarche, and why? Have meanings changed significantly over time and if they have, how? And for what reasons?
First Blood answers these questions and investigates beliefs and traditions surrounding menarche, including the concepts of uncleanness, of ceremony, of secrecy and lore still existing in many parts of the world. The influence of science and technology in the development of the sanitary hygiene industry is traced, together with the role of the pharmaceutical industry in making menstruation an optional event.
Sally Dammery practiced clinical midwifery for many years, developing a deep interest in the diversity of cultural beliefs and traditions among the women she attended. Travelling widely increased this interest and led to formal study of anthropology and history. Previous publications include the ethnography Walter George Arthur: a Free Tasmanian? which shared the Ian Turner History Prize in 2001, and the biography of her enigmatic grandmother, She Lived in Launceston: Isobel Horner of Waratah House, winner of the Lilian Watson Family History Award 2006.