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Breaking the silence around blood: managing menstruation during remote Antarctic fieldwork


Nash, M, Breaking the silence around blood: managing menstruation during remote Antarctic fieldwork, Gender, Place and Culture pp. 1-22. ISSN 0966-369X (2022) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1080/0966369X.2022.2066635


Drawing on qualitative interviews with female expeditioners in the Australian Antarctic Program, this article examines the additional labour involved in managing menstruation during remote Antarctic fieldwork. Unlike expeditioners working on a research station, fieldworkers rarely have consistent access to private toileting facilities or dedicated times/spaces to deal with their bodily excretions. However, being able to easily access toileting facilities can significantly impact how people who menstruate experience fieldwork. This is an overlooked but crucial corporeal challenge of working in Antarctica. Findings reveal that in male-dominated spaces, expeditioners must go to great lengths to make their menstruation invisible. A primary way that women do this is through menstrual suppression technologies. When these are not available or not preferred, women negotiate trying to keep their menstruation and gynaecological health issues hidden but often do so in field settings where there is little infrastructure or support. I argue that the lack of infrastructure to support menstrual health in the field is a form of sexism that maintains women’s lower status in polar field environments. To conclude, I provide practical guidance for National Antarctic Programs to support people who menstruate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:menstruation, Antarctica, polar, fieldwork, extreme environment, gender
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology of gender
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Nash, M (Associate Professor Meredith Nash)
ID Code:149925
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2022-04-29
Last Modified:2022-05-20

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