Preferred Name

Kathryn Lese

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Communication Studies


Heather J. Carmack


In 2015, Rupi Kaur’s photography project featuring a menstruating woman was censored on Instagram, a photo sharing social media platform. The menstruation censorship created a surge in public media discourse about what is and is not appropriate to discuss about menstruation. Menstruation communication is often discrete or invisible in dominant discourse and focuses of medicalization rather than the social norms of “performing menstruation”. This thesis explores menstruation communication in public media discourse and examines how it empowers and disempowers the menstruating female body. Themes including the everyday language of menstruation, patriarchal censorship of women’s bodies, shame and stigma in menstruation discourse, and medical ideology and essentialization are examined. Recommendations for future research suggest inclusive approaches to women’s health research and expanding research approaches to women’s health care research and studies on menstruation.



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