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A&S Research Proposal Template

(total word count no more than 1500; Chicago Style mandatory):

Your Name: Kylie Britt
Title of the Project: The Horrors of Menstruation
Part 1: Aims:
The trends in horror movies have evolved historically to feature tropes (commonly
recurring characteristics) and newer, more terrifying themes. Womens role as both victim and
monster/terror has allowed for enough material on women in horror to be analyzed. Menstruation
and other characteristics of puberty are typically portrayed as bringing supernatural powers.
Periods are mystifying to the point of terror, enough to create popular films that revolve around
periods and power like Carrie (1976) or Ginger Snaps (2000) (Rosewarne, 2012). The
mystification of female function may be linked to the sexual education that was prevalent at the
time of these films. While girls who menstruate probably know that adolescence will not grant
them supernatural powers, the historical and present-day mysticism surrounding the subject has
led to cultural norms that still affect people today. My investigation will include research into
folklore and cultural traditions regarding menstruation, including isolation practices, restrictions
on activities, and sexual education. I will then attempt to connect those findings to the themes in
the films Ive selected as period as horror films, and report their connection in a paper. In this
research the origination of this menstrual horror trend will be analyzed in connection to the
education of the generation that would become the filmmakers, including writers and directors,
in regard to menstruation.
Part 2: Background:
Film criticism has grown in regards to roles and opportunities for women. Along with
women-focused stories, the appearance or mention of menstruation has increased in frequency.
In horror films, women fill roles as both monsters and victims, but have very different motives
and manifest their emotions differently than male monsters and victims. (Creed, 1993). While
male monsters wound themselves before turning to violence, female monsters menstruate.
(Briefel, 2005). Puberty and menstruation in women is portrayed as the coming of a terrible time
for women, a monstrous time, even. Being familiar with horror movies, one can typically predict

the fate of the female characters. Whether they die, fight back, or become the villain is much
prescribed within the horror genre. The fear that surrounds womens sexuality and bodies is
described by Stephen King as what drives Carrie. (Clover, 1992).
Research has been done on menstruation in horror movies, but the research stops at the
film and doesnt look for reasons why. I believe the reason why menstruation is associated with
something terrible starts with sexual education. Studies connecting film and history have been
done in terms of war films, crises in film, and changing gender roles. This research on
menstruation would be very specific to sex education and horror films, which narrows down
from just gender roles.
Part 3: Argument and Significance:
I want to closely look at the link between the education that filmmakers experienced and
ideas that society holds regarding sex and menstruation. Education is the key to combating fear,
so the connection between periods and powers must lie in the lack thereof. I will look at the lore
and education about menstruation and womens sexuality at the time of each films release, as
well as the time of each filmmakers childhood. While each filmmaker may or may not have
created a period-horror based on their own fear, they cater to their audience, so directors and
producers who greenlight menstruation-as-horror pictures are acknowledging and perpetuating
the mysticism surrounding the subject. This will help clarify the connections between the fear
and the film. Students who have never learned about menstruation and havent been taught to
speak frankly about the subject may have a tendency to mystify the female body. The trends of
education have been reflected in films throughout history, and I think menstruation is no different
a topic. In order to destigmatize menstruation as a whole, an explanation for current sentiments
must be provided, and is most likely rooted in cultural beliefs and old traditions. Since films can
influence the culture of wide audiences, disconnecting menstruation from horror is a good place
to start the separation of periods and fear.

Part 4: Project Design/Methods/Results:

This research can be done in any location with access to films and literature on
menstruation in culture. The qualitative conclusions that I hope to reach will be arrived at after

studying films that feature themes of a supernatural puberty. These films include but are not
limited to The Exorcist (1973), Carrie (1976) and its 2013 remake, Ginger Snaps (2000), and
Teeth (2007). Researching the historical folklore regarding menstruation and womens puberty
will provide a context for the popular sentiments towards periods. Looking specifically for
folklore and cultural context revolving around the themes of the movies, e.g. telekinesis,
possession, I will narrow down the information Ill examine. I will also track historical changes
in the sexual education in public schools at the time in each decade from 1920 to 2010 (Using
Killander, 1969; and Halstead, 2003), to characterize the evolution of public thought on
menstruation in the past century. This research is available, but is not gathered together for an
easy analysis. Comparing the films release dates to themes in public sex education may help
draw conclusions about why the horror genre has revolved around women, menstruation, and
vaginas. I will report my findings in a paper connecting cultural causes for discomfort around
menstruation and the themes in the films. In making this information public, I hope to influence
how people watch these films, analyzing how menstruation itself may not be the reason for fear
and supernatural powers, but instead public sentiments about menstruation.
Part 5: Literature Cited:
Briefel, Aviva. Monster Pains: Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror
Film. Film Quarterly 58 (2005): 16-27. Accessed February 25, 2016.
Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1992.
Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous Femme: Film, feminism, psychoanalysis. London: Routledge,
Dudenhoeffer, Larrie. Embodiment and Horror Cinema. Basingstoke: Palgrave-MacMillian,
Halstead, Mark. Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice. New York: Routledge
Falmer, 2003.
Kilander, Holger Frederick. Sex education in the schools; A Study of Objectives, Content,
Methods, Materials, and Evaluation. New York: Macmillan, 1969.
Rosewarne, Lauren. Periods in Pop Culture. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012.
"The Folklore of Menstruation." The Lancet (British edition) (0140-6736), 175 (4507), p. 184.

The Exorcist. Directed by William Friedkin, 1973. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2000.
Carrie. Directed by Brian de Palma, 1976. Beverly Hills, CA: United Artists, 1976. DVD.
Ginger Snaps. Directed by John Fawcett, 2000. Pacific Palisades, CA: Motion International,
2000. DVD.
Teeth. Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007. Los Angeles, CA: Roadside Attractions, 2007.
Carrie. Directed by Kimberly Pierce, 2013. New York City, NY: Misher Films, 2013. DVD.