This week’s reading “The Rise of the Adonis Complex” and “PMS as a Culture-Bound Syndrome” were very interesting. More infuriating and frustrating than interesting, but as are most subjects that we have studied in Sociology. It becomes more and more difficult to digest the world around us when we now are able to pinpoint all of its societal faults.
It is difficult to find a woman that actually enjoys her menstrual cycle. With the use of birth control, controlling the menstrual cycle and women’s bodies has become more mainstream. However, I think it is safe to say that the week preceding and the week of a woman’s period are not her favorite weeks in the month. I have always thought that women have it worse, biologically speaking. Women have to deal with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and childbirth! I know this kind of labor is commonplace for women to deal with, but I think women should get a little more credit for what we have to put up with! I found this article to be very interesting and in many ways it shatters our culture’s perception of a woman’s menstrual cycle and PMS. Nowadays, pretty much every woman claims she has PMS. Yes, menstrual symptoms are brutal at times (I went to the ER once become of period cramps (this may be an over-share…)), but to claim it to be a syndrome can actually be detrimental to society’s perception of women. PMS is actually a time where some women do not adhere to the cultural and societal standard of being polite and subordinate. Women who have PMS symptoms are considered to be irrational, emotional, and angry. Of course the one time in the month women have a more difficult time keeping themselves composed, society and doctors come up with a syndrome that gives women essentially a get-out-of-jail-free card. This, in some ways, is great for women! I remember one time I was in a fight with one of my friends, I said something I shouldn’t have, called her later and explained I was PMSing. Although this excuse may work at times, it still is insulting when you are actually feeling anger and people don’t justify your feelings because “you are probably just moody because you are on your period”. In this regard, PMS is a double-edged sword.
In the article, Chrisler mentions, “The existence of PMS encourages women to think of themselves as unstable and potentially ill for at least half of each month”. Women, along with society, believe themselves to be, for lack of a better word, crazy. When a woman is upset, she may think ‘oh I am acting this way because I am PMSing’, when in reality, many people, no matter the sex, get upset! It is not so much that women are capable of getting upset; it is what they are attributing their feelings to. In reality a lot of the symptoms of PMS are similar symptoms of overall stress that any sex is capable of feeling.
I think the most interesting aspect of this article is when Chrisler mentions, “It’s a culture-bound syndrome because it is only necessary in societies in which women have made major gains toward equality of rights and opportunities”. Premenstrual syndrome only really became prevalent when women were making major gains and feminism was on the rise. In a way, PMS has been a setback for women because it gives employers an illegitimate excuse not to hire a woman, or to hire a man over a woman.
As Chrisler adds at the end of her article, there are many positive aspects to menstruation and that we should keep these aspects in mind when we think of the menstrual cycle. Positive aspects of menstruation include: the ability to bear a child, it is sign of good health, it is also a sign of maturation, and finally it is indicator of whether or not you are pregnant…which is always good to know!
The second article we read this week was “The Rise of the Adonis Complex”. The first thing that came to mind was the word Adonis (which I had never heard of). I googled him and have attached an image below. Adonis is the Greek god of beauty and desire. He is ever youthful, handsome, and the epitome of a ladies’ man. At the time, this sculpture was the definition of the top male physique. By today’s standards, Adonis would seem kind of shrimpy! I mean, I would argue that this definition of male attractiveness still applies for women, but as examined by the article, men have become increasingly more aware of their bodies. With the rise of steroids in America, the impossible male body has become possible and even become mainstream with media and advertising. Manliness has now become more synonymous with size. I think our society has progressed in so many ways; however, our definitions of the ideal bodies have gone to the extremes. Beauty for women has become thinner and thinner, while beauty for men has become thicker and thicker. In many ways, this article came as a surprise. I would not think that men would be nearly as close to women in regards to body dissatisfaction. I think in a large part this is due to the fact that men are not meant to express their feelings or in any way appear weak. Expressing their dissatisfaction would show weakness. Another interesting aspect of the article was how the action figures have gotten larger and larger over the years. This is the most frightening aspect to me because this brainwashes young boys into the Adonis Complex along with the rest of society.