Man wonders if PMS is real, hormonal women everywhere flip cars in rage
A new article in Slate shows what happens when you take studies about women’s biology and then interpret them, bro-style. In his article titled, “Is PMS Real? Or is it just a figure of our menstruation-fearing culture,” writer Frank Bures takes a thorough look at the history of PMS and concludes that “if it’s a syndrome, it’s almost certainly a cultural one.”
You see, according to Bures, the fact that women in some parts of the world don’t get diagnosed with PMS is evidence that it’s a “social construction” of cultures that view menstruation as something negative and, therefore, to blame for any bad feelings women have. He cites various studies that support his view: for example, in one study, women who were told that they were premenstrual when they actually weren’t experienced more PMS symptoms than those who actually were premenstrual but were told they weren’t. I believe the name of that study is, “I Didn’t Have Time To Think Of A Name For This Study Because I Was Being Ruthlessly Kicked Square In The Nads.”
In fact, Bures argues that PMS doesn’t exist in cultures where menstruation is prized, like on the island of Wogeo, Papua, New Guinea, where men fillet their penises in the ocean so they can menstruate, too. Of course, the people of Wogeo also believe that illness is the result of sorcery, trespassing, or “failing to incise one’s penis recently,” so I’m going to go ahead and stick with my OB/GYN for medical advice. Good example, though.
But don’t get all offended, ladies. Bures isn’t saying we’re crazy, what he’s saying is that “just because something is a social construction does not mean we [we, Frank?] don’t experience it—it simply means that our ‘real’ physiological symptoms can have roots in our mind as well as our body.” Oh, okay. That seems fine, then. I feel super supported when the word “real” is put in quotes.
Bures says that our current belief in PMS is based on that old sexist idea of “hysteria,” which is a condition women used to be diagnosed with when they got lippy. “Hysteria” means “wandering uterus,” because it was thought that uteruses would wander around women’s bodies making snacks and stuff and then getting lodged in the wrong place, causing one hell of a bad mood. The cure, of course, was intercourse, which Bures says, “supposedly worked.” But “hysteria” is an outdated notion that has long been proven wrong. “Today,” writes Bures, “hysteria is never diagnosed, except by unwise husbands.”
Ha! You schmuck.
Bures believes that PMS symptoms are a matter of suggestion, as when it was first named in 1954 by a British doctor named Katherina Dalton. Once PMS became something that was diagnosable, so did the number of symptoms, which are helpfully listed in the article to include: lack of physical coordination, multiple sclerosis, arguments with friends and family, increased connection to nature and other women, and decreased efficiency. “Estimates of the number of women afflicted,” writes Bures, “ranged from 5 percent to 95 percent.” We see your sarcasm in using the word “afflicted” and we raise it by a “go f**k yourself.”
Here are the facts. According to the Office of Women, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PMS is not just real, but as much as 85% of women experience at least one symptom. Don’t trust the government? Well, grab your tin foil cap and head on over to the Mayo Clinic’s site, where they will say the same thing. And if all else fails, ask Bures’s wife who, as he writes at the beginning of the article, responded to his doubts about her PMS with “an icy silence.”
Girl, come sit by me. I’ve got some Midol, a whole mess of Project Runway recorded on the Tivo, and some Men’s Rights sites bookmarked so we can have a wee giggle.