Menstruation in material and promotional culture : the commodification and mediation of female sanitary products in Britain 1880-1914
Previous analyses of the history of the innovation and commodification of menstrual hygiene products largely subscribe to the misconception that the establishment of the industry was begun in the early years of the 20th century. This research firmly relocates the decisive development of this industry to the inception of Southall's Antiseptic and Absorbant Pad in Britain in 1880. Following analysis of the imperatives of menstrual management in the mid-19th century, consideration is given to the origins of the commodification of menstruation, its vital early promotional culture and the rapid development of an established competitive commercial context within an effective industrial infrastructure. Product development and diversification are considered through to the maturation of the industry prior to the First World War. These events are considered within a historically based interdisciplinary approach employing a historical and cultural analysis to develop a fuller understanding of the issues that are explored. The industrial and cultural encoding of menstrual objects within promotional discourse is seen to reconstruct Victorian menstrual etiquette; positioning objects of menstrual management in the establishment of new hygienic protocols and brand loyalty through an emphasis on issues of social transformation, technical innovation, medical certification and discretion. The presentation and interpretation of contemporary source material facilitate a reconstruction of accepted histories and contribute to a new understanding of early menstrual communication strategies.