Womanhood, reproduction, and pollution: Greek Cypriot women's accounts of menstruation
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Through in-depth interviews with 20 Greek Cypriot women between the ages of 23 and 73 living in Cyprus, I explore and examine the multiple and diverse meanings Greek Cypriot women of different generations attribute to the embodied experience of menstruation. Analyzing womanhood and reproduction as the most common meanings attributed to menstruation, as well as the experiencing of the menstruating body as a dirty, polluting, and dangerous body, I explore the significant role that religious ideology play in women's constructions of their bodies and discuss the cultural understandings and the implications of ‘being a woman’ and ‘having a woman's body’ in the contemporary Cypriot society. The women's views of menstruation, which remain largely unchanged across generations, are illustrative of the strong cultural association between women and impurity, as well as of the ‘compulsory’ nature of heterosexuality, marriage, and motherhood. I argue that researching menstruation, and especially how women themselves experience, interpret, and negotiate their experiences, can provide significant insight into the multiple and diverse socio-cultural parameters that shape embodiment, as well as into what it means to be a woman in a particular context at a particular time.