History in Review
Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology. By Sharra L. Vostral. (Lexington Books, a Division on Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Lanham, Maryland: 2008. Pg. ix, 181.) ISBN 10: 0-7391-1385-2. ISBN 13: 978-0-7391-1385-1.
Reviewed by Angela Evans - December 17, 2008
Even within the realm of feminist histories and women's studies, I have to say that Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology Sharra L. Vostral is one of the most unique books that I've ever read. In part this is because in this influential book, Vostral tackles what is often viewed as a taboo subject - menstruation and how women deal with 'hiding the evidence'. Written with academic rigor and filled with keen insights, this eminently readable book details the development of modern feminine hygiene products, and how American society has viewed these products and their uses, and how attitudes and perceptions about these objects have altered over time.
Under Wraps is a fascinating book to read. It provides a detailed history of an often overlooked aspect of the social history of American women, and it furnishes an intriguing look into the technological developments that have gone into the development and commercialization of items that women use for menstrual hygiene in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. In addition, Vostral looks at how the desire to 'hide' menstruation or to pass as non-menstruating has impacted women in the social, political, educational arenas, as well as how it has influenced women's health care and self-image.
>From beginning to end, Under Wraps is a fascinating book to read. The subject matter is unique, and the information provided will influence how you view women's history, societal attitudes toward a natural function, and the role that marketing plays in women's self-image and purchasing decisions. Vostral also examines, in great detail, how the ability to 'pass' as a non-menstruating woman, by the use of technological innovations, has allowed women to engage in activities and to follow pursuits that otherwise may be denied to them.
Under Wraps will find a ready place in University courses on gender issues, women's studies, social history, and the history of technology. In addition, the books detailed chapter notes can be used by those interested in this topic as a guide for further study.
An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie, and Sexuality, by Jill Fields.
A sweeping overview of the history of women's intimate apparel in the twentieth century.
Gender and Morality in Anglo-American Culture, 1650-1800, by Ruth H. Bloch.
The origins of Anglo-American concepts about gender and morality are delineated in eight essays by a leading authority on feminist theory and history.
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