I had super high expectations before reading “Periode ist politisch. Ein Manifest gegen das Menstruationstabu” (The period is political. A manifesto against the menstrual taboo) by Franka Frei. Looking back I really regret that not because the book was horrible but because it simply wasn’t unable to live up to the idea I had before reading it.
In this nonfiction book Franka Frei, a menstruation activist, writes about periods and about different social, political and ecological topics that are connected with it. She addresses issues such as period poverty, menstrual stigmata, the German taxation of period products and their environmental impact. “Periode ist politisch” shows that there is a lack of knowledge about menstruation and that we need to address it more.
Frei wrote her bachelor’s thesis on menstruation, posted about it on social media and that post went viral. She formed connections with period activists in different parts of the world and we accompany her on her journey when she visits some of them (for example in Pakistan and India). This broadens the narrative and gives us some insights into the period discourses and taboos in other countries – though they are of course still described from a German perspective. I found this part especially interesting because I didn’t know as much about it as about the German context.
I was disappointed by “Periode ist politisch” because I didn’t gain a lot of new knowledge. It’s an informative book but I already knew too much about the topic. So it wasn’t that mind blowing to me.
I also didn’t particularly like Frei’s writing style and I felt like the book lacked a clear structure or continuity. While reading “Periode ist politisch” I didn’t really know what would come next and what to expect. Other things that I didn’t like was the lack of sources in the text to make it more readable which is probably appealing to many casual readers but I prefer to have a better overlook of where someone got their information wrong.
Despite my harsh criticism I still think it’s a very important and informative book that would be an interesting read for so many people. It sadly just wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. I enjoyed reading it but it wasn’t able to live up to my incredibly high expectations.
Nevertheless I’d recommend “Periode ist politisch” to anyone who is interested in learning more about the menstrual taboo and periods from a feminist perspective. It’s not perfect but it’s a great starting point to gain more knowledge and begin a conversation on something that affects half of all people.