Jerry Seinfeld used to have a routine about the television commercials for laundry detergents that promise the product will remove bloodstains from clothing. “I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with bloodstains all over it,” Seinfeld would say, “maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem.” It’s a funny line, and it’s one that only a man could think of, because the real reason blood is such a vexing and eternal laundry problem doesn’t have to do with gunshot wounds or serial shaving mishaps (in the commercials, a witless husband is forever nicking himself shaving, usually wearing his best white shirt, the male equivalent of showering in your bra and panties). Bloodstains occur and recur in households because women spend a lot of their lives bleeding. If a man or a child woke up in a small pool of blood, the alarm would be genuine and well-founded. But if a woman does so, it’s business as usual. The bloodiness of menstrual blood is something that has been steadily de-emphasized in the past century, but blood it surely is. Once I walked into the students’ restroom at an all-girls school late in the afternoon on a warm day, and the smell that assailed me was reminiscent of the smell of Buckley’s, the butcher shop in Dublin where my mother bought Kerry beef running with blood.
The Sanguine Sex: Abortion and the bloodiness of being female, Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic Online