10 September 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Menstrual Blood Banks – Viable?

It turns out that scientists, from a culture that derides the menstrual cycle of women, have discovered that ‘period blood’ is “a good source of stem cells…that can develop into any nine different types of cells, including heart, lung, nerve and muscles.” So now, there are talks of ‘banking’ menstrual blood.
The full article is here.

The article says ‘Unclean,’ which denotes ‘menstrual.’ Are the men skirmish yet? I don’t think the biological dichotomy between clean and unclean blood is why the headline screams ‘UNCLEAN’ blood–clean blood is supposed to carry oxygen from the heart to other areas of the body via arteries whereas unclean blood is usually found in veins and carries ‘by-products.’ A Biology major can clarify, but in the article headline, ‘unclean blood’ is ‘unclean’ simply because it is menstrual blood. In other words, it has little to do with any artery/veins dichotomy and more to do with the fact that ‘only women bleed’ if I may borrow those Alice Walker song lyrics.

HA! I wonder how popular this news would be if men had periods. In all likelihood, it would make CNN, Fox, MSNBC headlines, spur all sorts of discussion and pride amongst men about how they are ‘natural saviours,’ give birth to a whole new ‘menstrual bank’ industry, and maybe even knighthood for the men who bled the most. Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get what I am trying to say. If you don’t get what I am trying to say, Gloria Steinam says it better here.  Alas, if you search for this news piece on “Google News” only one newspaper carried report of these findings–the Times of India.

I doubt that is due to the fact that the study was conducted in India. Last month, when Times of India put out its opinion on the Top 10 moments of the Olympics, Reuters picked it up straight away without even giving any credit to TOI.

So, anyone for menstrual banks? The idea cannot be more ‘icky’ than sperm banks. Why is menstruation ‘ewww’ OR ‘unclean blood’ and semen alright as a bodily secretion? They both involve secretions that contain the potential for ‘life’ for crying out loud. It’s more problematic when women find it ‘gross.’ Got self-hate?

Imagine a future where people would shop for ‘stem cells’ to find their preferred matches from a large available database of mentsrual blood! The anti-abortion activists and Republicans who rage against the idea of embryonic stem cell research would also adopt an agenda against ‘menstrual stem cell research’ in all likelihood.

For sure, some shrewd capitalists are sure to jump on it as soon as it becomes viable. Keep an ear out for more news on this future potential-for-profit-making industry.

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