New Blood: Third Wave Feminism And The Politics Of Menstruation Chris Bobel {Rutgers University Press}

New Blood is Chris Bobel's second book, her first - The Paradox Of Natural Mothering - dealt with the similar themes of biological determinism and gender traditionalism. New Blood examines these through the movement of menstruation activism. Bobel meets and studies women who are 'doing feminism' in their day-to-day lives, their way and considers how these actions reflect on third-wave feminism as a whole. The book is as entertaining as it is serious, both academic and journalistic in style, brim full with knowledge of the past and just as much creative, insightful thought on the present.

Although ostensibly about the part menstruation activism plays in the third-wave feminist movement, or the ‘revolution from within’ as it is called here, New Blood is expansive, touching on many linking areas - from zines to zap action - and is as such a gateway publication to a whole world of little-discussed strands of contemporary feminism.

Bobel immersed herself in the dual sides of menstruation activism - the feminist spiritual and the radical - getting involved with a catching enthusiasm. She spends time with radical group The Bloodsisters, attends Red Tent holistic health communes and sees over radical cheer group rallies. Bobel critiques all the levels of loving your period, hating your period and just having your period. She absorbs the stance of each group she meets - that which celebrates femaleness, that which disregards the term and that concerned with combatting corporate power - to then reveal the contradictions within. The feminist-spiritual view is rooted in biological determinism, the radical side interested in overcoming the restraints of biology - both are reflective of struggles through feminism.

With a refreshingly candid uncertainty about not only the benefits of changing attitudes towards menstruation, but the changing front of feminism as a whole - Bobel comes out questioning, rather than conclusive. She takes a good long look at today’s faces of feminism - her sources are absorbing character studies.

In moving from an activist group that exaggerates the feminine, to a group that sees fit to smash the term -with the radical faction including much queer culture and 63% of those involved not heterosexual - Bobel widens her iris to investigate the restrictions of the gender binary and asks, ‘Will smashing the binary destroy the feminist movement or strengthen it?’ Connecting biology to behavior is, as she states, 'classic anti-feminist' and establishing female difference can either bring women together or be used to tear them down.

Radical activists use the term 'menstruators' in place of 'women' - Bobel looks at how such a move impacts on feminism. How useful is breaking down these boundaries, she asks, when there is so much discrimination faced by women for being what is still understood as female? She considers if it helps to say that male and female are social constructs, and work from there - or whether that as we don't live in a post-gender world we would be making too much of a leap, and leaving a lot of people behind.

Holly Grigg-Spall