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

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.

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  1. I never thought about period in Hunger Games but I did wonder when did they poo only because that would have been crucial to my strategy if I was picked for the Hunger Games (and by picking I mean somehow my 30 year old name was drawn). I would kill everyone while they were pooing. That the time where you are kind of caught off guard. As you can see I put way too much though into this.

  2. You make a very valid point!
    Aunt Flo ALWAYS shows up, so where the dillio is she in the Hunger Games?
    Or could it be that due to that lack of nourishment that everyone seems to suffer, that Katniss’ periods are rather infrequent?

  3. first off, “ladycorks” killed me. second, i wondered the same thing. but, as another poster mentioned, i also wondered about their other bathroom needs! i feel like coming off of tracker jacker venom might lead to something similar to hangover runs. even if she was still pre-menstrual due to being malnourished, they’d all still have to pee and poo. and, the careers from districts 1 and 2 were NOT malnourished, as they were treated kindest by the capitol, so you still have to wonder where their periods are.

    • oh, and one last thing. just as menstruation is a natural and routine part of a female’s life……. so is masturbation for a boy. i dunno about you all, but every guy i know would STILL manage to find time to get off, even in the hunger games. stuck in a tree? alone in a cave? hiding behind a bush? might as well, probably gonna die anyway!

  4. If they used stuff to make bodily hair growth stop, then I’d assume they would give her something to make menstruation stop as well. We have that ability today, so I’d say it would be more precise of a process in the future. I would imagine they give the girls enough to stop it for a month or two. Then it would resume after. But periods are in the same category as bathing and going to the bathroom. We do it, but in books they rarely mention it unless to serve a purpose. Sleeping is probably the most common, mundane task that is mentioned in books and even fictional sleeping is often way cooler. Characters have dreams that are really detailed and memorable upon waking. Or vampire stalkers maturbate and watch them while they sleep. Just kidding! Stephenie Meyer’s head would explode if Edward did that. Hahahahaha.

  5. Whoa, wrong comment up there, my bad.

    Katniss was severely undernourished for much of her life; she could have had a delayed period (she is 16 in the first book) or it could have stopped due to low calorie intake. She was only well-fed for small stretches of time, not nearly enough to bring her period back.

    It also probably wasn’t mentioned because we don’t have to hear about every single bodily function people experience….

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  7. I think we now need another article…Zombie Period Survival Tactics.

    Anonymous | 5/05/2012 02:05 am
  8. I was wondering this while reading Harry Potter when Harry and Hermione spent a like a year traveling around the woods and researching horcruxes and whatnot… Did she just magic it away?

  9. Taking a dump in the woods…… Much more cringeworthy than getting your period.

  10. I have always had this exact thought in my head when I see movies like this. I just know that if I was in the Hunger Games and had Aunt Flo visiting that would be the absolute last straw! I would totally lose it! Periods aren’t really that big of a deal in my house, even my dad has said to me “Again?!” when we’ve been out at the shops and I need to buy a new pack. Loved this article!

  11. lady corks!! that’s a keeper.

  12. For what it’s worth Collins did mention Katniss peeing in the first book. When she’s dehydrated, at the beginning of the games there is a mention of her dark colored urine. I remember being quite surprised when I read it, because I don’t think I have ever read any other book that mentioned the main character going to the bathroom in any kind of detail before. It is all very thought provoking, though!

  13. I actually would love it if periods were mentioned more in tv and books (not like details or anything like that, just a little mention would be cool.) I love suffering my period with other people! It makes it so much easier to know others are suffering with you! Misery loves company!!

  14. I grew up in a household where we could talk about it and laugh about it and my dad would even go to the store to buy our tampons for us, but I never really think about my period, and more importantly I never think about anyone else’s. I’m not ashamed in any way shape or form but it’s just not something that takes up a whole lot of thought in my mind. Also I haven’t read a whole lot of books that talk about other necessary bodily functions such as pooping! So come on.. it’s not a hatred on women or there periods or anything else it’s just unnecessary
    to the story.

  15. I always wondered that about Twilight, not just Bella but hell all those vampires in a high school full of menstruation… just one of many things that doesn’t make sense in that series.

  16. Seriously? I don’t like suffering under my own period let alone reading about someone elses! It might be natural, but not everything natural is appeasing. Why didn’t Collin’s write about contestants defecating in the forest? Oh gee, it might be that it is disgusting and not relevant.

  17. Periods are made up anyway! (What my husband says. Ignorance is bliss I suppose…)

  18. Ya Bitch magazine!

  19. I’ve always wondered about Survivor too! I found this article that answers that question!
    http://bitchmagazine.org/article/period-pieces

  20. I completely agree. I am watching Lost for the first time (yes, I am behind the times) and I had the same thought. These women are running through the jungle and living on the beach! How do they NOT get their periods? Eventually, I decided that there must have been some extra tampons/pads packed in someone’s suitcase and the women hid their treasure in a secret place WHICH MUST NOT BE MENTIONED BY ANY OF THE CHARACTERS. I would have liked to see an entire episode devoted to one of the male characters (coughSawyercough) hoarding tampons which enrages the women enough to beat the crap out of him. Just saying

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