Aunt Flo – The Character Left Out of ‘The Hunger Games'

With the global takeover of The Hunger Games in book and in film this year, it’s obviously exciting to see such a great female protagonist in popular culture and in the lives of young girl readers. This summer, tough ladies in general are taking the spotlight as Snow White and the Huntsman and Brave hit theaters shortly, but with the increase of the “anything you can do I can do better” sentiment of our strong women-fronted flicks, there is one topic that seems to still be avoided, if not overlooked altogether. Maybe it’s in an effort to not lose the male audience, maybe an accidental aversion, but where in the world is Katniss Everdeen’s period?

Forgive me if this observation comes across as crude, but being a gal and having had Mother Nature make an unwanted appearance at camping trips and music festivals, it was an initial lady-thought while reading the book. That poor girl! She has to be in the arena for lord knows how long, climbing trees, surviving severe heat and cold, running from kids her own age who want to kill her, having to pretend she’s in love with a boy she’s still on the fence about! Wouldn’t that just be the dickens if she also started? You wanna see real bloodshed? Put a single tampon in the Cornucopia amongst a legion of menstruating teen girls.  Maybe that was Clove’s deal the whole time.

Granted, our characters were only actually in the Games for 15 days, so there’s the 50% chance that our Katniss wouldn’t even have her special visit, but, still, what if she did? It opens the doors to the much bigger issue, which is the stigma of menstruation in general.

I’ve been taught my whole life to be discreet about my period, and never, under any circumstances to mention it to the men of the house. Perhaps some of you grew up under different conditions, but in our household, just like most times in the mass media, it was taboo. Commercials for pads even use a different color for demonstrations so as not to gross out viewers. My father once even went as far as to say that tampons shouldn’t be advertised on television. Seriously? Don’t even get me started on that creepy, toothy smile on the Cialis guy. If I have to just be subjected to the erectile dysfunctions of America’s middle-aged man, you can most certainly stomach images of a gleefully jumping woman holding a box of her ladycorks. Suffice it to say, we’re meant to act like we don’t go a week with our baby-growing station under repairs so as to keep it well-functioning and fertile and therefore an essential part of the continued growth of our species.  We ignore it because its untidy and therefore unladylike, no matter that it basically represents the hope for our existence.

Katniss is basically a symbol of the growth of her people, she’s keeping them alive with actions that are as heroic as they are nurturing. In the three-year duration we see her and this post-apocalyptic world low on its basic needs for survival, her very trait of womanhood is never mentioned. Not even a “man, Peeta, I sure am glad we found this cave to hide in because these cramps are winning! Soup!” Preach, girl.

Sure, an argument could be that the constant malnutrition would cause infertility, but we know that the people of District 12 are capable of reproducing. Citizens may die of starvation, but they were able to be conceived in the first place.

Suzanne Collins is so descriptive and visual with the way she portrays the murder and gore in the series. Viewers watch live as the prettiest girl dies a bloated tracker jacker funbag and boys have their heads crushed into gooey messes. We actually see someone kill an adorable 11-year-old. I don’t know what you guys do in your free time, but the period stuff is a way more relatable and logical occurrence in said situation than shooting arrows through teen boys. I know that The Hunger Games aren’t meant to be relatable in that aspect (hey girls, wanna learn how to outrun fire?) but they are in the sense that Katniss is a role model for young readers. If anything, I’d like to know what someone as resourceful as she would do for a homemade tampon. Leaves? Tree bark? Woven spider webs? Teach me, Katniss! I need it for my Armageddon box! Any excuse that touching upon the topic of a young girl’s cycle would be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since a restaurant patron asked for calorie-free water. C’mon, Collins!

The Hunger Games is no way near the only culprit of ghost periods, however. From Gilligan’s Island to Lost, characters stranded on desert islands are also too preoccupied with good ole fashioned food and shelter to worry about what’s going on with the ladies. Maybe they built their own separate hut for those times, who knows, but if you go for the scenario where characters are stripped of necessities and fight for survival, let’s at least add that sliver of realism. Gosh, it’s the reality of half of our population, so let’s stop acting like it doesn’t exist because I’m crampy and sick of it and thinking of all that Capitol food.

  • http://www.facebook.com/webevie Evie Totty

    Although Collins didn’t address it in the book, she DID address the lack of facial hair on the male contestants. It would be just as easy to give the females something to keep them from menstruating, so I didn’t really question it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kaley.stewart23 Kaley Stewart

      That was my thinking too! The Capitol can do some bizarro things so I didn’t think about it too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenn.k.dixon Jenn Kristine Dixon

    hahaha I thought about this too! But yeah, i figured the Capitol just gave them something to keep it from starting. It really would suck though if they didn’t…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719606883 Patty Housel

    Except Katniss lied about being pregnant in the 2nd book. So she had to have something going on down there. I always think of Aunt Flo. Won’t the zombies be able to smell all that blood too?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6019508 Viviana Villarreal

      Oh my gosh! I never thought about periods and zombies!! Wow now I have to completely rethink my survival plan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134679899 Jenny Guetschoff

    You do not need a menstruation to reproduce. You need 5% or more body fat to have a menstruation, but ovulation occurs no matter what. Hence, the capability to have a baby but not a “period”. As my father always says “Look it up”. lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/sophiehunter86 Sophie Hunter

    Ha! I wondered about this…thanks for putting it out there for discussion!

  • http://www.facebook.com/reginagraceflanigan Regina Flanigan

    This was a great article, I didn’t even think about it until you mentioned it. It seems as though things like this are always left out of books (when I was 8 I wondered why no one ever mentioned pooping in books).

    Also, I’m totally stealing ladycorks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1698477326 Tracy E. Sievers

    The movie Pitch Black covered mensuration at a very untimely moment. I always thought it was smart that they addressed it and that it made the very unrealistic circumstances almost realistic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/samantha.collie Samantha Collie

      Dude. I thought that moment was very realistic..(well, for a creepy sci-fi movie) to address that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lozzyking Lauren King

    I ALWAYS think of this when I’m watching movies. I haven’t read or seen The Hunger Games, but this question definitely applies to a lot of movies.
    Also, I’ve never heard the term ladycorks before, but I love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhiannon.evans Rhiannon Evans

    But isn’t stuff about menstruation omitted in the same way other toilet habits are? I’d imagine that, like in most other books/films, Katniss isn’t depicted as having to change her tampon but nor does she have to hunt around for non-poisonous leaves to wipe her bum with. Sometimes I have thought about this when watching various shows but I always just assumed it was something that was left out for the sake of convenience and storytelling. It probably is also because people don’t necessarily want to watch stuff like that, just like they don’t want to watch someone on the toilet straining to have a crap. I’ve neither read the books nor seen the film though, so correct me if I’m wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iChicky Krystal Rose Ortner

    I wondered about this as well as the other issue that’s more pressing, going to the bathroom. A fact of which happens multiple times daily. Did she go while watching for people trying to kill her? Lol I also thought of the period situation in the Twilight series. They all freak after she got a paper cut, did they not notice her monthly visitor over those years they all spent so close together? Interesting thoughts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bambi.troxell Bambi Troxell

      The period situation in the twilight books baffled me, too! Thanks for putting it out there :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=46707384 Clara Lusane

      I also thought about that in Twilight to. Like did Edward stay away during that time or even more gross did he drink it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675045913 Alyssa Bradley

      I saw in a Q & A where someone had asked Stephanie Meyer about that. Her response was basically “Ew, gross! I don’t like to write about that!” In that same panel, someone also asked her why all the men in her series were extremely handsome and kind of perfect, and she said “That’s how I like to write them!” Yeah, kind of gave up on expecting any sort of quality from her after that.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/misspennylaine Laine Leard

    Hmmm…good point I suppose. Although I am not embarrassed by my bodies natural function and I think that it’s not a taboo topic, I really do not wish to read about it in books or to see red blood like fluid represented in advertising….I guess that’s just me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/radishadams Danielle Mercedes Adams

    Most people in movies and books do not even go to the restroom let alone do the girls have aunt flo come to visit. I mean 15 days of The Hunger Games when did they poop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553870293 Bridie Jessica Power

    With regards to normal bodily functions of all types – Katniss was unconscious for a couple of days after the tracker-jacker venom took hold, there is no way she wouldn’t have needed to proceed with normal toileting functions during all that time. The same deal with Peeta left trapped and immobile in the mud and then in the cave.. but to mention it would just be nasty! I am all for the plotline focusing on the snogging ta v. much! There is no way they could mention Katniss’ period without needing to find a solution for her problem and I really wasn’t THAT keen to find out just how absorbent the moss is!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pim.robert Pim Robert

    Along the thread of pooping and other bodily emissions (when she was in the tree, did she just hang her bum over the side? bury it like bobcat, survival style?), I think like most books involving ladies it is left out. I agree with this decision because just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean we need to know something has happened that we know generally happens to girls. Similarly, I don’t think I’d need to hear Peeta say, “Aaah, Katniss, this blood infection is rough but these blueballs are KILLER, amirite?” I’m sure she probs did, and in pure Katniss style, dealt with it and considered it barely a footnote in her fight to survive. The same goes for her tree poops.

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgina.elsmere Georgina Elsmere

    I don’t think it’s really to do with it being ‘taboo’, but more to do with it not really doing much for story-progression.
    There’s a rule in the the theatre; if there’s a gun on the mantelpiece at the start of the first scene, the gun has to have gone off by the end of the final scene. Basically, everything in your plot has to progress the story or develop the characters or something else relevant in some way. If your character’s period isn’t relevant, leave it out. It’s the same reason people practically never use the bathroom in books. It’s just not an important part of the story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1471902878 Kristi Garman

    I often wondered if Bella had to stay away from Edward for 5-7 days a month…. Maybe that’s why Jasper seems so weirded out sometimes. Bella should’ve stayed home those days.

    • http://www.facebook.com/blushingbluebird Jenna Bradford

      Ha! Same thought crossed my mind a time or two. Maybe those were the days when Edward would go hunting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1601685681 Kerry Goodrich

    Bahahaha!! I thought the same thing…

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendy.sargent Wendy Sargent-Boileau

    Nevermind all these books, I’m always wondering how they keep it hush hush on Survivor. Are tampons an unspoken luxury item that the producers allow the girls to have? How do they still wear those skimpy bikinis otherwise? Why is no one ever saying ‘you go on ahead to the challenge, I’ve got killer cramps so I’m just gonna hole up here in the shelter, later guys’. ??

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7716041 Taylor Robinson

      Agreed! And if they are always wearing those skimpy bikinis… when are they shaving?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/alex.mckelley Alex McKelley

      I was just thinking that! I don’t understand. The producers must be giving the girls tampons and special bathroom time, because I can’t even imagine dealing with that out in the middle of the woods…

  • http://www.facebook.com/christinelazzari Christine Lazzari

    bigger question: what do they do on Survivor?

  • http://www.facebook.com/samantha.collie Samantha Collie

    If you want a book series that just has zero shame and is proud to declare if someone poops his pants or happily describes a woman having menstrual issues in detail….. A Song of Fire and Ice (aka. Game of Thrones) deals with every bodily function known!

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