Discourses of Menstruation: Girls. Menarche and Psychology

Lovering, Kathryn Matthews. 1994. Discourses of Menstruation: Girls. Menarche and Psychology. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Discourses of menstruation: girls, menarche and psychology.)
PSY_thesis_Lovering_1994.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (17MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis is an investigation into the discourses and practices of menarche in psychology, in British culture and among young adolescents. Part I discusses the findings and limitations of current psychological theory about and research on adolescent girls' knowledge and experiences of menstruation through a review of psychological literature and a research project with young adolescents. The research project consisted of three studies: a series of informal group discussions on "Growing up"; questionnaires on aspects of self-concept and attitudes to menstruation with' 80 boys and 87 girls; and interviews on expectations and experiences of menarche with 44 girls. The review and research demonstrate adolescents' negative attitudes to and lack of knowledge about menstruation and the limitations of 'traditional' psychological research. Neither traditional psychological practice nor a more feminist inductive content analysis were able to account for the patriarchal nature of menstrual knowledge, the meanings of menstruation for adolescents or girls' subjective experience of menstruation. Part II traces the emergence of patriarchal conceptions and practices of menstruation in British culture and Western psychology. This is done through a discursive analysis of: the female body, sexuality and menstruation from 1600 to 1850; the scientific debates about 'The Woman Question', the female body and menstruation from 1850 to 1914; and the emergence of the 'pre- and postmenarcheal girl' in 20th century psychology from 1937 to the present. Part III presents a feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis of the inscription of young British adolescents into menstrual discourses. This is done through an analysis of the group discussions and interviews with adolescents which discusses: the discourses available to young British adolescents to make sense of menstruation, what menstruation comes to mean to adolescents and how these discourses, practices, and meanings constitute girls' subjectivity.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



menarche, psychology, adolescents, menstruation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



October 1994

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 14:46

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:41



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)