These Books Made Me

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

March 24, 2022 Prince George's County Memorial Library System Season 2 Episode 3
These Books Made Me
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Show Notes Transcript

Judy Blume didn't intend to write one of the most frequently challenged and banned books of all time when she penned Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. She just wanted to write a book that captured the trials and tribulations of adolescence, complete with girl talk about bras, periods, and boys. We wonder why the pretty tame discussion of puberty, and a storyline about an agnostic 12 year old figuring out her relationship with God, organized religion, and her family, continues to scandalize Americans who just keep challenging the book into the ALA Most Frequently Challenged lists every decade. We deconstruct whether the book holds up 50 years later and try to figure out just why feminine hygiene products still give some folks the vapors. We learn about some pervasive myths about periods, play historical women's health trivia, and chat with a Peer Educator about the importance of quality sexual education for adolescents.

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/. 

We cover a lot of ground in this episode and used some books and articles as jumping off points. Here’s a brief list of some of them if you want to do your own further research:

Speaker 1:

We must, we must

Speaker 2:

Increase

Speaker 3:

Our bus .

Speaker 4:

The bigger , the better, the tighter the sweater . The boys are,

Speaker 2:

Depending on us.

Speaker 5:

Put the whole thing in then

Speaker 2:

Isn't that awful?

Speaker 3:

You got the extended cut. Yeah, that is terrible. Hi, I'm Cal . See

Speaker 5:

I'm Heather.

Speaker 3:

And this is our podcast. These books made me today. We're going to be talking about, are you there? God, it's me Margaret by Judy bloom , friendly warning as always, this podcast contains spoilers. If you don't yet know what teen softies are proceed with caution quick content warning, much like the book will be discussing topics like the Huberty and teen sexuality in this episode. And we have two special guests this week. Could each of you introduce yourselves?

Speaker 2:

Hi, I'm Vanessa. I work at the Glenarden library and I'm so glad to be here today , today.

Speaker 6:

Hi, I'm Shannon and I work at the Largo Kettering library via the rats Clinton library. And I'm happy to be here today to discuss a book that I think I read when I was about nine or 10 years old. And it was a book that I heard about from other girls at school. So it was like, oh, we have to read it. So what about you all, have you all read it before? Or was this your first time reading it?

Speaker 5:

I also read it about the same age as you Shannon. And I think it was very similar at my school every and read it early and then talked about it. So yeah, I think I was in third or fourth grade and my real memory attached to this book was that it inspired me and my best friend to our poor moms to go and like basically confront our moms one time when we were at the playground and they were sitting and talking and have mom talk, we went up and we were like, we wanna talk about periods. And so, yeah, I think this book was like kind of Aite of passage book for a lot of girls my age. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

This is my first time reading this book. Believe it or not. I don't know how I made it through my youth without reading it , because it, it was everywhere. Like I knew about it. I knew it was like the taboo, you know, but I , and I read like all the other Judy bloom books, but this one just , I never got to it for some reason. So it was , it was very interesting to read it as an adult for the first time.

Speaker 2:

And for me, I also heard a lot about this book when I was a kid, but I never read it. I think it was like a forbidden topic to have in our household. Um , so I was, this was my first time actually reading it through and I found it to be such a sweet story when I was expecting something a little more hairy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . It's not nearly as a Risque risque as it's made out to be not at all. Well, Vanessa, do you wanna give us a little plot summary?

Speaker 2:

Yes. Margaret Simon assumed to be 12 year old girl from west 67th in Manhattan is a little shell shocked. Honestly, when, before labor day, her parents suddenly rent out their apartment and move their small family to a house in the quiet suburb of far Brook , New Jersey, anxious and stressed about the upheaval. Margaret secretly calls on God to share her problems with. She talks to God about everything. Friends, family, even moose freed her secret crush. Are you there? God, it's me. Margaret. We're moving today. I'm so scared. God. I've never lived anywhere, but here. Suppose I hate my new school. Suppose everybody there hates me. Please help me. God, don't let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you. But before Margaret's even had a chance to get her bearings, her new neighbor, Nancy Wheeler, thrusts herself, along with her friends, Gretchen and Janie into Margaret's life. As Margaret struggles to adjust to her new school and the strange culture of the suburbs. She's happy to belong to her new friends secret club, where they talk about private subject like boys bras and getting their first periods. Margaret really realizes she's in a different world. When people in far Brook are super concerned with what religion she is, this is a bit of a sore spot with Margaret. Since truth be told she doesn't have a religion. See Margaret's the product of a Christian mom and a Jewish dad who eloped to be together other , and now Margaret stuck in the suburbs with no church, no synagogue and no clue about whether she should join the Jewish community center or the Christian, Y M C a. So Margaret makes her way through sixth grade, the best she can. She tries out a bunch of different religions to see if one fits. She meets her long lost grandparents. She gets Cru shown an older boy. She spends a lot of time worrying about when she'll get her period, which to her delight comes just after her 12th birthday growing up, isn't easy. And are you there? God, it's me. Margaret takes us back to the thoughts and feelings of preteens as they navigate the path to adulthood.

Speaker 3:

And now I'll dive in on a bio fee of our author, Judy bloom , an anti censorship advocate and acclaimed author who uses her works to depict the complicated interior lives of teen and tween girls. Judy bloom was born in Elizabeth New Jersey in 1938. She describes her upbringing as culturally Jewish. She married John bloom in 1959 and she had children with him and she received a degree in education in 1961 from New York university. She began writing while her children were in daycare. And her first book was a picture book entitled. The one in the middle is the green kangaroo bloom reflected back on that time in her life. When she first began to write, when she received the national book award medal for distinguished contribution to American letters in the 2000 and in her speech, she explained how she found writing in the following way. For a while in my twenties, I became disconnected, not from books, but from my inner life, I adored my children, but inside was an empty space. A knowing an ache that I couldn't identify, one that I didn't understand. The imaginative creative child grows up and finds that real life. No matter how sweet is missing some in essential ingredient. I was physically sick with one exotic illness after another, in those years. But once I started to write my illnesses magically disappeared, I found an outlet for all that emotion, all that angst writing saved my life and it changed it forever. Are you there? God, it's me. Margaret was her third title published in 1970 and it was the book that launched her into mainstream success. She went on to write more than 25 books for all ages from children to adult though. She is most well known for her young adult work and for her Frank conversations around puberty, sexuality, racism, religion, divorce, and more topics, which have led her to be one of the most band and challenged authors in America. An a staunch advocate for free speech. She divorced John bloom in 1975 and went on to have another short lived marriage before marrying her current husband, George Cooper in 1987, she's won many awards, including a library of Congress, living legends ward in 2000 , in 2016, she founded an independent nonprofit bookstore in key west with her husband. Also as a side note upon researching, I found that she looks exactly the same in every picture I have ever seen of her, whether from the 1970s, the two thousands or now, and I am convinced she does not age.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Judy bloom is kind of a boss. How do you all think the at the book holds up now? It's 50 years old. How does it read in today's times?

Speaker 2:

It's so innocent. It's so , um, plain in the sprinkler, making new friends so quickly, not so many diversions from what's right in front of you is kind of refreshing. Yeah,

Speaker 6:

I think it's , uh , when it came out and when I read it weren't that far apart from each other. So , um , so when I, I think read it as a C child, I think it reminded me of my childhood. And then when I read it, now it brought back memories of my childhood. Like, like Vanessa said, playing in the sprinkler or just , um, you know, somebody just coming to your house, when you move in and saying, Hey, come on over. Your and your mom

Speaker 2:

Says

Speaker 5:

Is fine. Yeah, come

Speaker 2:

On over.

Speaker 6:

So yeah, I think it, it has a lot of innocence and I don't know if reading it now. You , you just see a different world now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I, I think, I think that's true. I also think like a lot of it still feels very current. Like I didn't reading it didn't think that if I hadn't known it was written in the seventies, I don't think I would've been like, this is obviously from the seventies. Like a lot of the issues are still current. A lot of the way she writes about the issues still feel current to me. So it's kind of an interesting dynamic of like, obviously some of the cultural, like aspects of childhood are different, but like not that different. I don't know .

Speaker 5:

I think I agree. I mean, there's, there's no references in there to sort of the modern trappings of society. Right? Nobody texts anybody. There's essentially no technology in it. I mean, I guess, you know , she talks about traveling maybe by plane to see her grandmother, and then they talk about the trains, but those still both exist. So it does like, those don't really pigeonhole it in any way, but at the same time, the lack of technology almost dates it. Yeah . Because there's no reference to that. Right. They're going to each other's houses all the time. They're

Speaker 3:

Writing

Speaker 5:

Letters, writing letters , um, even the school project, you know, when they're researching in the library, but at the same time, I think the lack of really anything that's a date. You never hear a year. You never hear any like pop culture references. I don't think other than the period products that they end up using. I think that lets the sort of emotional heft of it stand. Yep . You know, the , the issues are very similar. Like kids, do you still worry about their changing bodies and they worry about who's gonna develop first and are they normal and are they growing correctly or fast enough, they worry about religion and fitting in, you know, her parents' relationship and the friction with her mother's family. Like that seems very relevant today. We have rising issues like that where people, you know, really diverge on topics of religion or, you know, political issues that sort of break up family . So like in that way, I agree that that stayed pretty fresh in spite of it being a very innocent book compared to probably what I had recalled. Cuz I remember like, I think like you Shannon and I remember it being like a , Ooh , this is kind of a racy book, you know? Yeah.

Speaker 3:

But

Speaker 5:

It's really not. Right .

Speaker 3:

I think if anything, she comes across younger than she probably did when it was written like as when it was written, it was probably like, Ooh , this is like teen. And now I definitely think of it as like preteen. Like I don't even know though back in that time, if there were , was a term preteen. Yeah. You were a child and then you were a teenager, teenager .

Speaker 5:

Right . They named their club, the preteen sensations, which is the worst name for a club of all time . The four PTSS is like, it's so hard to say and it's just very goofy. Yeah . Um , but yeah, I mean, I think it's very squarely in that like eight to 12, right. This is not a teen book . Like I cannot imagine giving this to a teenager today , but like also part of that is, you know, this is so locked into puberty, right? Like that is the slice of life that it's, it's capturing, that has gotten much earlier for girls than it was 50 years ago. I mean, that's just the, like the , the average onset of puberty is much younger than it used to be. So I think that might be part of also why it feels a lot younger to us than it probably did when it came out.

Speaker 3:

One thing that they have updated in more recent additions is the period products themselves. So it used to be a sanitary belt in the most current additions . It's a , um , adhesive disposable pad. So I feel like that would've stood out as like, oh, this is, this is an older book if they had not changed that.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. And it sounds like they actually made that change really fairly early in the run of the book cuz Judy bloom had a blog on her website about making that change with her editor for the addition that came out. And it was because they had gotten a lot of people writing in , um, about the book and, and saying like, oh, I love this book, but no one uses these anymore. You know, and just sort of wanting it to be more relevant I guess. But then it's kind of sad cuz like, yeah, we're still just using pads like

Speaker 3:

One big leap and then no leaps ,

Speaker 7:

No progress

Speaker 6:

Since then. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

And um , Vanessa, I think when you're prepping for this episode, you and I talked a little bit about it's, it's not really the most, other than the kind of discussion of religion. It's not really the most diverse book, at least it's not really mentioned that she sees anyone who's not white in her day to day life.

Speaker 2:

No, I actually did a little research on that before we came in today. Cause I was like, is there a term for that? And maybe you all have heard of this before the white assumption , um, where authors take specific care to describe the tone of non-white characters of which there aren't any that I recall from this book while not doing the same for their white counterparts. So the assumption is that everybody is white and very similar, but then, you know, even within that category of white people, there are the Jews, the Christians, the non-believers. Um, so that was a, just a , is a , I think it's a issue of the time when these books were written, it was, that was considered normal and to, to write differently, would've been considered weird.

Speaker 5:

It reminded me a lot of, we did Harriet the spy before and it was written in a similar time period and a , a very similar sort of community of people, right? It's this like affluent neighborhood and people that live there. Um, but you're right. Like there's very little physical descriptor of anyone in the book. It is just, just assume

Speaker 2:

Everyone's right . Who's well developed and tall More . Right . I also wanted to mention just thinking about where you were talking about a minute ago with , uh , puberty and it's onset becoming earlier and I cannot speak for the entire black community. I can only speak for the people with whom, you know, in my family and with whom I was associated. But for us, a lot of us got our periods at young ages at 10, at 11. So it was sometimes I even know girls who were nine. So it , I don't know if tho that's another cultural difference in the book written from the perspective of a white person, son about other white people. I don't know, but it doesn't mean all black . I do know black people who still didn't get their periods till they were 14 or 16.

Speaker 6:

Yeah. I was like 13. So it was, and I don't know that I knew too many people either that, you know, where I , where I lived or people I went to school with. And I think most of the people were like in middle school. So 11, 12 of 13 when they got their period. And I don't know that I knew anybody that was really young. I did know people that were younger that developed breasts cuz you know, get your breasts first. So I knew that like in fifth grade, yeah. I knew people like in fifth grade that were wearing a bra and you know, and needed like a pretty size bull bra Matt ,

Speaker 7:

Not a girl , not the growth .

Speaker 3:

As I

Speaker 2:

Remember being a big issue between like fourth and sixth grade in elementary school, a lot of fifth grade angst and the girls who got stuff and the girls who didn't get stuff in the way they were treated or attracted, not attracted to who's attracted to a fourth grade boy. But um, it just became issues, which mirror a lot of the things that are brought up in this book. So I think that the voice that , um, bloom put on Margaret was just perfect because you could just, you could feel what she else, she did a wonderful job with that I

Speaker 3:

Think.

Speaker 5:

Yeah . Yeah. It was very relatable. I mean, I think breasts are a big focus of this book. You know, there's Laura who was clearly the early bloomer for their class and she's described as looking very mature and womanly though. I will say the Nancy's obsession with their teacher, Mr. Ben , an having the hots for Laura was really disconcerting to , to me .

Speaker 3:

I was really confused by that

Speaker 5:

And I wasn't quite sure if we were supposed to read that as like, geez , Nancy, get your head out of the gutter sort of thing. Or if we were supposed to assume that he was in fact like flustered

Speaker 3:

By a sixth

Speaker 5:

Grader by this poor girl, who's just living her life and going to school. Um, that was a little bit unclear to me, but I felt like it was it's so relatable. Like we all knew who Laura was like , and I , I bet all of us could name the Laura from our class. You know, the first girl that looked like a woman and how awful that must have been for, you know, those girls and like the attention that they got from boys that they didn't want the attention that they got from girls that I'm sure they didn't want the assumption that they were fast. Like, you know, all of the rumors that Margaret's friends have about Laura being, you know, in the alley with Boys in the AEP .

Speaker 6:

Yeah .

Speaker 5:

It it's, you know, that's a , a sadly relatable thing cuz I don't think that's changed. I mean, we're looking at 50 since this was written, but I feel like probably all of us experienced that when we were in school, certainly my daughters still, they could tell you who the Laura of their class was.

Speaker 2:

Well, I have to tell you when the , the book started and Margaret moved to her new neighborhood and a few pages in Nancy shows up, I'm like, oh no, Nancy's like that friend that you want your child to stay away from Nancy who spreads rumors and starts a club and excludes people and you know, tells you how to dress and us . It's like, oh, can you find another nice girl? Who's like you, but she does make things interesting. So I appreciate that. Yeah.

Speaker 6:

That's what I wrote. I wrote Nancy is very bossy because when I, it, the first time I kind of glossed over that. And then when I read it the second time, I was like, why is she so bossy? Nancy's getting on my nerves. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

But you know what I like is like, she gets on Margaret's nerves too. Like Margaret Margaret doesn't really let her boss her around, like when she wants to read her boy book and she only questions Margaret's choices. Margaret's like, you didn't ask anyone else. She's not like she doesn't really let her feel shamed by it. And I think that's really good representation to see of like, I'm standing up to this person. I think kids need to see that. Well,

Speaker 5:

I think that's very true to how kids are. Well , you have your little group, like your close group and it is almost like siblings. Like you can say things to each other like that where it's like, what's your problem. And it's okay. Yeah. And I think Judy bloom writes those relationships really, really well. Like all of the relationships in the book feel extremely true to how kids actually are, how they interact with each other, how they think. And I think that's pretty universal even though we're saying like, okay, well maybe this was a little bit young. Like this wouldn't be how a 12 year old would be today, but it might be how a nine year old is.

Speaker 6:

I like how we see later when cuz Nancy sends the postcard up, you know, I got my period. But then when she really gets her period and Margaret's there with her and Nancy's like hysterical, I think it let , it kind of brings her down to show that, you know, Margarets just, she can see Nancy for who she really is like, oh Nancy, you thought you were great. And you said all these things, but you're really a liar.

Speaker 3:

Well, and it, it did make me feel a little empathetic for Nancy. Like she's just trying to fit in like all the rest of 'em and she got kind of put in her place a little bit and then she's trying to suck up Margaret so that she doesn't tell everyone cuz now she has like, she, she has as much shame as there . The rest of them do around this stuff. She just presents it differently.

Speaker 2:

I thought of Nancy as like the queen bee . And the funny thing is that happens at all ages. There's the queen be in your neighborhood at work, you know, different social groups or other you're in . So the types of , um , interactions among the kids are the types of interactions people have throughout their lives. It's just more innocent when you're 11 going on 12.

Speaker 5:

So we brought up the focus on breasts in the book. Um, the going to buy a bra is a big piece of this story. And it's another thing where Nancy kind of drives the action on it, cuz Nancy's like, well , when you come for next week's club meeting, you better be wearing a bra

Speaker 3:

And I'm gonna poke your back to make sure you're wearing it.

Speaker 5:

And so like half the girls in the club are like, oh no. Now I have to go buy a bra with my mom. And they run into each other at this store picking up their, their new bras it's interest. How many ways that gets worked in the story. Obviously, Laura, who's more developed. She brings up her dad's Playboy magazines, which is something that I suppose if , if Playboy ever goes under, that will date the book somewhat because it will be a , an artifact. But that actually read is pretty current. Now it still exists. I guess that Playboy

Speaker 3:

Outta print. Hard

Speaker 5:

Copy. Okay . Right. But like the , the reference to dad's got a pornographic magazine or access to porn or something like I think that that was still somewhat relevant. That that is like, it's a lot of ways that kids find out about things, right? It's just on the internet now versus in a hard copy magazine. And then they had the chant to try to like increase the bus when they're doing their exercises.

Speaker 2:

We don't know where this originated, but I remember hearing it as a child. I don't think I was in any way, shape or form ready to have breasts, but I knew the chant, but they actually used to say that there's so many sexist things in this book that make me cringe, but we're perfectly normal for the time. And , and sort of hand in hand with the innocence of the childhood, in the book, going along with that is to in today's society with all our different ways to reach out, you've got all your, your social media, you can sit in your home and watch TV by yourself. You can work remotely. So you can be very independently different. But in our culture back in this time, when this book , uh , refers to, or even before, there's so much , um, emphasis on conformity, who are you? You , what are you, where do you go? What do you wear ? Who do you talk to? You know, you have, and you're shunned to some degree. If you can't be put into a , a little box. So yay. A small yay for today's world.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. It's, that's interesting that you bring that up Vanessa , because I think that actually presents itself in a few different ways in the book, the gender roles. I like you're saying like there's a lot of sort of faked and misogyny to a lot of pieces of this, you know, Margaret's mother is described as well. She stays home and she paints and like her painting is definitely viewed as this like unimportant time killer that she's not even good at it. Yeah . Like

Speaker 3:

Her dad says when she gifts them, people probably just storm in .

Speaker 5:

Yeah . But Jon wants it shut up, Which is also disheartening because her dad's mother, Sylvia, I think is a really good counter example to some of the negative gender roles. Like Sylvia's out there doing her own thing. Like she is living her life. She went to Florida, got a man brought like he's clearly just gonna do whatever she wants him to do. She doesn't take any like nonsense from anybody. Like you can tell she just

Speaker 6:

It's. Yeah. She seems to have like her own money because she can, you know, they have like subscriptions to Lincoln center. Yeah . And you know, and she stays in Florida for, you know , winters in Florida. Yeah. She and goes on a cruise. Yeah . Which you know, that wasn't a , you know, it wasn't like the days of carnival where everybody went on a cruise, this was only, you know, certain people went on cruises.

Speaker 2:

So I wonder if part of what makes that difference is Sylvia has no husband. We don't really hear a lot about her husband. Did he die and leave her with a whole bunch of money so she can go on cruises and get that center , you know , season pass and all of that. So she is more seen as the independent, free willed person who isn't beholden to any man, cuz she's not married. So I don't know if that was a thing at the time you can get married and hope your husband dies and leave .

Speaker 5:

But uh ,

Speaker 2:

I love Sylvia.

Speaker 5:

She was great. Definitely. I think my favorite character in the book, like she just was the voice of reason. A lot of times she just handled things really well. I thought it was just kind of refreshing to see somebody that's like, oh boy, you know her , uh , daughter-in-law's family is extremely bigoted about , uh, their Judaism. And then Margaret's atheism because they've made this conscious choice to not raise her in either religion because they viewed that as something that, you know, tore their families apart. And Sylvia was still just super understanding. I felt like of the whole situa and just kinda rolled with it and gave this like very healthy example to Margaret of like, there's no convincing some people, but you know, you just kind of move on and like, we just keep going. And I'm always here for you. And she's a great resource to Margaret throughout the book. You know, they have this very close relationship where they're talking all the time and Margaret seems very at ease with her in a way that like maybe not as much with her own mother,

Speaker 2:

I almost felt like Sylvia. She loved her daughter and her granddaughter that the way she approached sharing her religion with the granddaughter was more like the water torture , torture, where you have like one drop drops , it doesn't hurt, but she just, she's just consistent. She's just, they you'll never forget that Jewish , you know, that Jewish tradition is in the family. But I ,

Speaker 3:

I , I think that was like so much healthier in a lot of ways that now our parents approach it, which is like, if you even mention religion, we're gonna have like a total meltdown. Like we're trying so hard to raise you atheists that we're actually like stressing you out or like raise you. So you can make your own choices that we're like making this more stressful than if we had just told you what to believe. They're telling themselves that they're letting her pick her own path. But then they're, if she's picking a path that's different from them, they're like not actually handling it very well. And so I think she appreciated having someone to say like, Hey, this is what I believe. Like I'd love if you believed it too. But like, you know, let's explore that together. I feel like that was the role model that she got out from Sylvia.

Speaker 2:

It's almost like they just didn't give her any, well, not almost as if they didn't give her any education in religion. You don't have to propose that you believe in a certain religion, but there's no harm in sharing what all these different religions are. But I agree with Margaret that's 12 is an awfully old age to try to figure out what religion you wanna be. Well,

Speaker 5:

And she was poor thing . She was so clueless and moved into this community where, you know , that became a very like social status indicator was like, if you're Jewish, you go to the JCC. And if you're Christian, you go to the Y and she's put on the spot with like, well , what do you go to? And she's like, I don't know. So like, they haven't really given her the tools to navigate this at all. She doesn't feel like she fits then anywhere. And so she's trying all of these things to see where might I fit. And that's probably pretty hard, you know, when you're, you're just trying on other people's cultural identity because you haven't really been given one of your own and maybe that's not fair to the parents. Like maybe they would say like, oh, well atheism is a cultural identity of its own, but it clearly isn't in the society that they're like living in. And it seems to make that difficult for their child because she feels very at sea .

Speaker 6:

And I think it was interesting when I read it. Now, when I read as a kid, I, I don't know what I was thinking about. I think I, I just believed the hype of the puberty part. I had no idea about this whole religion thing. Cause

Speaker 5:

It didn't stick with me when I got to that. I was like, wow, I don't even remember that being you . Right .

Speaker 6:

I didn't even remember that being a whole , I mean , I knew you talked to God, right ? I knew she talked to God, but I just thought, but I never thought about, you know , uh , Jewish, Christian, anything like that. And I think that was just because just in life as a child, you just are your religion and you know, and I don't think I had the experience of choosing, so I will, you know, I went to church, I did this. So I think that whole thing escaped me. And so when I read it now, I was like, wow, that was more prominent than I , uh , remembered.

Speaker 3:

So yeah . Well, it's interesting how Judy bloom puts those things together. Like Vanessa, you mentioned, she says 12 is an awfully old age to start thinking about your religion. She also earlier in the book says like she's already 12 is an awfully early age to start learning about puberty, right? Like she's talking about like these things are things we need to talk with kids about younger and, and give them the tools and help prepare them and, and not be so afraid to like introduce the concepts to them because then they're gonna have a crisis when they're a teenager or older, cuz they've never thought about it before

Speaker 2:

Kelsey . I remember I have, I'm the youngest of three sisters. And I remember it was , we would set the table for dinner every day . We had dinner at the kitchen and it was time to put out the napkins and there weren't any napkins in the normal place. I knew there were some in the closet where in the hall where the toilet paper was, I got out the napkins and put 'em on the table. And my mother came out and said, oh no, those are , those are not the right kind of napkins because they were those big thick log like sanitary.

Speaker 8:

Cause I didn't know ,

Speaker 2:

No one told me cuz I was considered to be too young. Yeah. Um, one other thing I wanted to mention is we were talking about the book and this didn't, this didn't occur to me at the time while I was reading. But with Margaret and her exposure to religion and whatever friend she had, there's there's, other than that, she liked New York and she didn't like being near her grandma. We don't know. We never hear anything about any friends she's leaving behind any school. There must have been people who were Jewish or Christian or whatnot there, but I think it was a good decision to do it the way she did it. Cuz just made it a cleaner beginning. Didn't muddy things more when we were young, we would've just been reading this for all the , the Spanky parts anyway. So

Speaker 5:

Yeah, we were reading it for the boobs. We were reading it for the periods. Like yeah, I think we totally did just skim past all the religious stuff because especially like reading it now, I was really struck by the scene where Laura goes to confession and then Margaret accidentally goes to confession and she, you know, she goes into the confessional and she's completely befuddled. She doesn't know what she's doing in there or what's happening. And she ends up running away from it. But like I went to Catholic school and I'm sure like as a child that must have struck me as funny, odd something like I would've had some emotional response to it, but it's, it is funny that I've blocked that part of the book out completely. And the things I remember were the, like the bra trying on the, like doing the chest exercises. I don't know . Again, I think it is kind of like Aite of passage book. We've sort of talked about the way that like when you don't have all of the information, I think Judy bloom certainly would be a person that would say kids deserve information. Like we should give kids information early and frequently. And this book I think is an attempt to do that. And it's one of those books that gets challenged a lot because it does that. But so much of like, I remember as a girl, the things that you learn from books, you're not supposed to read these books that were just sort of like whisper network, like, oh , there's some stuff in that book, you know? And that's where you would go and get information that you weren't going to get. Certainly parents like maybe you'd get it from an older sister or you know, the fast girl that you were friends with, but like you weren't gonna get it from your parents. And so you would find things out through books. And I do think that that goes back to Kelsey when you were talking about it, not seeming dated, I think that's the one way where this does seem, cuz you you'd look it up on the internet. Like kids today don't have to do that. I mean, I guess I didn't have to do that. Like I had the internet when I was a kid too, but like we had a shared computer at my house. Like I wasn't gonna like go look up certain things on the internet, on the one computer that we had in my home , the

Speaker 3:

Middle of the living room.

Speaker 5:

Right? Like that would've been

Speaker 3:

14 point . Yes .

Speaker 5:

But that probably would seem very foreign to kids today. So like I am curious about how we think this would hold up for a kid reading it now.

Speaker 3:

Well, I mean, I do think that most kids, like if we're saying we think this is probably better suited for like an eight to 10 year old, most of 'em don't have independent internet access yet. I mean

Speaker 5:

They have phones. Kelsey,

Speaker 3:

Not when they're eight. Yeah. Okay. Well they're only starting, I would think to get that. Yes . So this is like, I could see as a parent being like, this is a better way to pass this information along if I don't wanna have this conversation.

Speaker 6:

Well wouldn't you have like a filter on there or, I mean,

Speaker 5:

I don't know. I just know that with my kids from third grade on it has been an issue with the teachers, like having to write emails, to talk to people about like their kids' devices at school,

Speaker 2:

My child can get around any filter. Yeah , really . They have so much more time than you have.

Speaker 5:

If you can get on YouTube, you can find out anything that you wanna know and they can get on, on their Chromebooks.

Speaker 2:

I think for an eight to nine year old , the, the thing that drew me into this book is it is written in an easy way to read is humorous. She does a great job with the, the relationship building and the, the angst between dad and his mother. But they never bothered to go into all the detail cause the kids don't care. And so I think the emotional part, if you took their phone away and they didn't have their Chromebook and there was no wifi nearby , um , yeah,

Speaker 3:

They probably would read it. You can Google the facts , but you can't Google feelings.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Oh

Speaker 5:

That's a really good way to put it.

Speaker 2:

This would be a good one to listen to in the car when they're trapped. If you take all their devices,

Speaker 5:

Like yeah ,

Speaker 2:

I'm a mom . I'm wanna

Speaker 3:

Listen to it with you .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. We all listen to it together. They're sitting in the back when they get to the parts that make everybody uncomfortable, we can all look different directions.

Speaker 3:

I didn't want to talk about when the scene, when the grandparents actually come from wherever the Toledo.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. They're from Ohio somewhere.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . I, I really appreciated the respect that, I mean, I guess just speaking to like the parent dynamics, the like moment of vulnerability that Judy bloom gave the mom, like I was really angry that the mom cancel a trip to Florida to see these grandparents who have done nothing but disrespect them. Yep . And didn't even have the courtesy to make sure the dates worked before they literally bought plane tickets. Like I was really angry. But then when they have that honest conversation with the mom of like, she's not gonna be happy about this cancellation because like you canceled her trip for someone she doesn't even know, mom was like, this is complicated. I just need your support. You know, like speaking of someone who has complicated family dynamics, I was like, okay, I see you mom. Like I get that. Like you can't explain why you need this. And you know, it doesn't make sense. You know, you're being a little irrational, but like, I'm just gonna , like, you just need to do this. And that's what you need in this moment. And like, as the mom , as a parent to be like, I'm, I'm struggling here and I need you to just support me. Like I thought that was really cool for Judy bloom to put in

Speaker 5:

Well, and I mean, I think that whole scene is very relatable to older readers too. You know, that's, everyone has some relationship with a person that they want it to be different than it is, you know? And that you, you are , you're maybe not quite to that no contact point yet, even if maybe you should be, you know, and I think probably everybody relates to that on some level. And, and kids probably relate to that too either. They've seen their family struggle with a family member that's difficult or they themselves have a friend that they know isn't really good for them, but they really want that friend to care about them or, you know, they wanna be in that person's social circle or whatever it is. Yeah. I thought that was a brave depiction of the messiness. That is human relationships and how, yeah. It's, it's not as easy as saying, yeah, these are terrible people. Like you shouldn't have to see them go with your grandma. That's actually kind, I don't know. It was kind of heartbreaking cuz then they come and they're awful again.

Speaker 3:

And how many kids' books have like mean grandparents? That's not a thing. Yeah,

Speaker 6:

No . Yeah. I think it , it , it was very real. I think Judy bloom does that in a lot of her books. A lot of things are very real as far as dynamics and it doesn't sugar coat it and you do have tenuous relationships with people and, and it can be your grandparents. And like you said, all grandparents aren't necessarily nice or, you know, have your best interest at heart. And then when they just up and left like, oh, we're gonna go to New York. And they're like, oh, well they were probably just coming to New York anyway and just, you know, decided to come over and see you. I mean, you don't necessarily have that. Everybody doesn't have that relationship. So I think the realism, I think, I think that's what draws people to her books. And I think that's what makes them, even though some of the things are dated, think that's what bridges time is. Uh , the relationship

Speaker 5:

That's, that's a great point because even though this is maybe a little bit more innocent than kids of this age would be now Judy bloom never condescends to the reader. So regardless of what age of child is reading this, I feel like they would never feel like they're getting half measures or that they're being talked to as a child. Like cuz that is a , it that's a pretty mature depiction of complications of family and, and relationships. And I think that's a , that's a strong argument for it holding up in spite of it. Maybe not being on exactly relatable to a kid today, just because it's missing some of the tech pieces that are more fundamental to childhood. Now, you know,

Speaker 2:

This, this , this discussion about the religion of the grandparents and how it impacts the story makes me wonder why bloom chose to have the, just as easily had the Jewish parents to Jewish parents be, you know, disowning their Jewish child for marrying a Christian. But she went the other way, which I guess in that time period, the world, the us was much more Christian than it is today. And I wonder if , uh , people who are Jewish are more accustomed to people marrying away from their religion than Christians were in that time period. Still. I love Sylvia . I'm sorry. I do .

Speaker 5:

And , but you know what? I , Margaret gets irritated with Sylvia though in the interactions as well. Sylvia's been a lot, like you said, the water torture, it's been a much more like subtle sort of like consistent . I'll just these little reminders that you are Jewish and like we're gonna get this food from the Jewish Aon and see this is like the real deal versus like whatever you can get here and well , I'll take you to meet the rabbi. I'm so excited that you want to, to come to, to synagogue with me, it's a much gentler sort of religious thing, but it's still there. Like it's still clearly important to Sylvia. And Margaret does still rank at the animosity between 'em .

Speaker 2:

I think Sylvia is in it for the long game. Yeah . Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Well, and she's earned the right to, to poke at Margaret A. Little more because she's there for her and sees her as a whole person and not like the granddaughter to like take to church and show off. She sees her as like someone that she loves and wants to have a great life. And that's just part of a value to her that she wants to pass along

Speaker 5:

Well. And I do wonder too, if Judaism is an ethnicity as well, it's not just the, the religion. So there are plenty of people who identify as Jewish, but don't practice. Right. And with Chris , I think that's less common. I think certainly you get that with cradle Catholics , um, where it's very like baked into your ethnicity and your cultural heritage in a way that maybe that makes it somewhat less pressing for Sylvia as well. And like that maybe that's why Judy bloom decided to go with the Jewish side of her FA Emily being a little bit more chill than the Christian side, because she's, she's viewing it as like, well, you're still Jewish. Even if you're not coming to synagogue, you're still Jewish. Like, that's just what we are in a way that like clearly the Hutchins are like, they are appalled that she's not going to church and that she hasn't been baptized. And she, you know, it's all of this

Speaker 2:

And many of ways it's like , uh , for some of the main characters in the book, ju Judy bloom has turned them into caricatures. So Nancy is the caricature green bee . Grandma is the caricature Jewish grandma, the Christian grandparents or the, you know, caricatures of those. The mother is the a stay-at-home mom who does nothing useful. Does she, even she does cook, you know , but she doesn't really have a strong purpose. She's just kind of a,

Speaker 5:

I guess she does cook. I was gonna say they have like help come in when her parents come to town .

Speaker 6:

True .

Speaker 3:

That's true. I was kind of startled by this . Yeah ,

Speaker 5:

Too . Like ,

Speaker 3:

I

Speaker 2:

Guess that's like a sixties thing.

Speaker 6:

Yeah. Where you have somebody em , and help. Like if you're having more than just your family, you have like some help come in to help you serve so that you , I guess, so that you're not like getting up and getting the food

Speaker 2:

And it can't be inconvenience that .

Speaker 6:

Yeah . Cause you know, it's not there weren't open kitchens, you know how now you have your open kitchen, so you can interact with your guests. But I different

Speaker 2:

Room love to have one come in and take care of those things.

Speaker 5:

Me too. Yeah . Like that was very foreign to me as well where it's like, do people do that? Did people do that? But I guess, I mean, again , they are presented as definitely like upper middle class.

Speaker 3:

Um , I was gonna say this whole, the whole conversation about like choosing your religion and like what aspects you take with you is bringing me back to when I was growing up, I was raised Catholic, but my gr my grandmother was Presbyterian. And so I, I went to preschool at the Presbyterian church, but I went to church at the Catholic church. And then my grandma would sometimes take me to the Presbyterian church with her. And I always wished I was Presbyterian cuz they had the better youth group. They had a bowling alley in their church. We got grapefruit juice in church. I didn't get, I didn't , I couldn't have the wine at camp . So it just seemed more chill to me. And like, I always wish that like I had been, I had been raised Presbyterian for all the like Acure months , not for the actual religion,

Speaker 5:

Obviously starting your period is a huge , uh, through line of the book. Uh, it paces the action in a lot of ways. Uh, for Margaret who's looking forward to starting her period. Then when she finally gets it for the other girls in her social circle, how are authentic? Did that feel to, to everybody, those sorts of , uh , discussions that happened in the book about periods, boys, puberty, sex , um, obviously it's very tame on the sex front, but you know, it's, it's still sexuality liking boys

Speaker 2:

Wanting, oh , I must say when they went to the dinner party and the mom left the room, they just devolved into like little, its kind of a combination of a four year old and I don't know, the hormones been crazy.

Speaker 5:

Yeah . That was a funny scene. That was like Norman, was that the kids' name? Yeah.

Speaker 6:

And the kids were all the boys were , I thought that was typical. Like the mustard on the ceiling , the boys , the is, you know , uh , quickly as girls. So then the boys are throwing things on the ceiling and you know, when the mom left and the girls are kind of like what's going on. So I think, I thought that was pretty good scene.

Speaker 5:

And that is sort of that middle school is that age where you start to do co-ed parties, you know, like you've done the like just girls like sleepovers or just boys doing this. And then in middle school, you, there always was some kid that was like the first to have the co-ed party or like you have like a youth group dance or so , so like it starts to get kind of pushed, but like you're going together. I thought it was so funny when I was reading it. They called it two minutes in the closet, which I think he has a different connotation now than it did at the time. But we called it seven minutes in heaven when I was a

Speaker 3:

Kid's I know it is too well. I thought thought the first game he suggested was startling. The one where they, the girls stand, they turn off the lights and the girls stand on one side, the boys just

Speaker 6:

Run the , how you

Speaker 5:

Feel like nothing . But then they said like just above the neck, which just seems like an awful game to have somebody like groping your face too. Which yeah, that was funny.

Speaker 2:

Any excuse to touch it ? Yes.

Speaker 5:

I did think it was nice that um, Norman Fishbine, was it his name? Uh , really demo demonstrated affirmative consent and enthusiastic consent during the like , uh , two minutes in the closet game. It's like, can I kiss you now? Where can I kiss you now?

Speaker 3:

Very thoughtful

Speaker 5:

Was

Speaker 2:

And the cute boy that all the girls liked turned out to be a , just a horrible met horrible . Yeah .

Speaker 6:

Not a very nice ,

Speaker 5:

He was kind of gross . Philip

Speaker 6:

Philip Laroy Philip Leroy . Yeah. He was

Speaker 5:

Everyone's number one on their bias list or whatever they call their boy

Speaker 6:

Book boy book . Yeah,

Speaker 2:

That just made me so glad to not be that age.

Speaker 5:

Oh yeah. It's so awkward.

Speaker 2:

You ever offered the opportunity to go back in time to an age where you could start over again? I don't think anybody wants to be 11 again,

Speaker 3:

I do , uh, very random unrelated to anything tangent, but I feel like in our past episodes we've been tracking the poor medical advice. Yes . Um , and all the different ways it suggested you might catch a cold. Um , and in this one , uh , Sylvia says that she probably got sick because her mom made her keep her boots on. Yes .

Speaker 5:

Sweaty feet made her sick.

Speaker 3:

That is a new one. It

Speaker 5:

Gets added to the wet hair. Gave me an infection and killed my friend in Kirsten.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Um ,

Speaker 5:

Yeah. And it's, there are funny little like , uh, moments in the book of like specificity like that too, where I feel like Judy bloom is really good at capturing something about the people in the scene with a like tiny moment like that. So like the boots thing was a good one, but like just right at the beginning of the book, when she's like sniffing her under arm to see, do I stink? Do I need deodorant yet? Like that was so real. I feel like that was a great, she , she remembers childhood very well , I think. Or she observes kids in childhood really well because yeah, the party is like that too. Like that's exactly how a party like that would go.

Speaker 2:

Like mom don't leave the room.

Speaker 3:

It devolves immediately.

Speaker 5:

Why was the mom surprised that it went off the rail? It was like, lady, come on. What did you think was gonna

Speaker 3:

Happen? I love that she saw that went off the rails and she was like, you are terrible. Okay. I'm gonna leave you alone for two hours.

Speaker 5:

Yeah . Shame on you . Don't make me call your parents, but she leaves again.

Speaker 6:

But I was gonna say about , um, the period also I thought was interesting when Gretchen got her period and her mother told her that she would need to watch her weight from now on once she got her period and wash her face. So I thought that was a interesting tidbit.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . She face until now.

Speaker 5:

Yeah . Yeah. Like that. And there more bad medical advice . So that, and then there was also , uh , the scene when they were doing sort of the sex ed class at school. And they were told like tamp packs, like no tampons are not yeah . Not allowed you, you know, it was this very like derogatory thing that like shocked me when I read it. Then I was like, what do the girls on the swim team do? But then I looked into it and wow. Yeah . I had no idea. There was this whole, like culture of the idea that using a tampon means you're not a Virgin anymore.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. Another way to control women and girls bodies. Yep . Cuz it doesn't do anything to

Speaker 3:

You except give you more freedom in your life.

Speaker 5:

Uh , we did touch on it a little bit , um, about just censorship of this book. It consistently has rated in the top hundred band books. Um, ALA keeps track of that. Uh , so it , it continues to be a frequently challenged book. So it's clearly relevant to someone, even if it's maybe not as relevant to kids anymore. So I , I did wanna just at least open up discussion on, on that. And why do we think that is? Cuz again, we're saying this book is awfully tame, so why does it continue to be a source of dismay?

Speaker 6:

I think just puberty and no matter what time period parents, even though a lot of parents don't talk about things with their kids, they feel like they need to control when their kids get certain information. Even though, you know, a , I'm not gonna talk to you about that, but you can't read about it in a book. So I think that's just all through time is that you always have those type of parents that, you know, I don't , um, I'm not gonna talk to you about this, but I don't want you to read about it. So there's nowhere in between. And then now with the internet, I don't know, you know , I mean, cuz basically have the ban , the whole internet. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

I suspect a lot has to do with the religious part of it too. If they, if that conflict didn't exist in the book, it wouldn't be as interesting nobody ever comes around in the end and they don't all go to church and they don't all, you know, get to be cozy with their Christian side so that she has, you know, relationship with her Jewish grandma and her Christian grandparents. I think when you , um, don't embrace Christianity or you in this instance, they just sort of showed them out the door and kept on with their lives. I think that that can cause some hackles to go up.

Speaker 3:

It's interesting how , um , in the speech that I quoted Judy bloom speech that I quoted when I was doing her author , her bio , she talks a lot about censorship too. And about how she never anticipated becoming an activist and how angry she is now about like censorship of any kind. So it's interesting. I , I don't think that's what she set out to do is to like shock people or say things that would upset people. I think she genuinely, they just saw like these are things kids need to know at this time in their life. And it's wild to me that parents don't wanna talk about this stuff that is literally happening to their body. Like what I , I just don't know what people expect kids to do if you're not talking to it about them. And then they're shocked when changes are happening or they don't know how to navigate certain situ it's uncomfortable, but we have to lean into the uncomfort

Speaker 6:

Sometimes it's people and how they grew up and their own comfort. And so if you grew up in an where you call things, the proper names, you know, body parts, the proper names and all this, then you're more comfortable talking to your children. And if you and grow up that way, then you feel like, you know, your body is something to be ashamed of. You know, then you get this, you know, you get children who are surfing the web or you know, getting books, you know,

Speaker 5:

It also does make me wonder how often the people that are challenging it have read it themselves. Yep . And I think that, that comes up with a lot of book challenges. Um, you know, even on the level that we get book challenges here, working in the library, I frequently will start the discussion. Well , have you read the book and like let's engage in this conversation often. They haven't. Um, and, and so maybe I , I wonder if that's playing in too , is that the book has gotten this reputation as being, you know, risque, and there's not much there. Like this is Tamer than I would think most sex ed , even in our very poorly, John said here would be. Um , but people make an assumption. Maybe that there's more,

Speaker 3:

Or they just flip through to find , find the dirty words. And they don't actually like have the context of how those words are being used

Speaker 2:

For each episode. Our luminous lit literary and frequent co will provide miscellaneous and insights from our book. It's time for Haahs Headspace.

Speaker 9:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to Haahs Headspace part of the podcast, where I literally say whatever comes to mind for today's segment, I'm sharing with you all, some superstitions about periods from around the world. Shout out to hellooo.com for teaching me something new. I like this article, cuz it gives different locations from around the world. Uh, one of the first ones that it mentions on here is that , um, you're not allowed to perm your hair until you've had your first period. And that's a myth , uh , related to the United States and the UK in Israel. They say that you get slapped on the face when you get your first period. So you have beautiful red cheeks, all your life in Poland. They say that having sex on your period can kill your partner. In Malaysia, they say that you will need to wash your pads before throwing them out. Otherwise ghosts will come and haunt you in India. They say that you can't enter a kitchen or cook food for anyone else. What if you're the only person that could provide food for your children? So your children just don't eat. They also say that you must wash your hair on the first day of your period to clean yourself completely. But on the contrary, if you wash your hair, your flow will be less and it will affect affect your fertility later on in life in Brazil, you can't walk barefoot on your period or you might get cramps in the Philippines. Uh , one of their superstitions is when you get your first period, you need to wash your face with the first menstrual blood to have clear skin in Italy. They say that everything you cook will be a disaster and that dough won't rise. It's so funny. A lot of these actually are like related to food because in France they say you can't make mayonnaise because it'll cur also don't know how to make mayonnaise. That may be like a French thing. I don't know . And then Japan, they say you can't make sushi because you have an imbalance and taste. Uh, and in Bolivia they say you can't cradle babies or you'll cause them to get sick. So I thought that was interesting. I hope you all enjoyed that as well. Yeah. If you're like me, you'll probably do a little bit more digging into maybe why some of these are so join us next time to see what else is going on in my head.

Speaker 6:

Now let's, it's talk to someone who actually knows something about one of the main topics covered in this book, teen sexual health.

Speaker 10:

My name's Ashton Gerber. My pronouns are they. And he , um, I'm a freshman at Tufts university. I was a peer educator with planned parenthood and I'm now a sex health rep at Tufts university. And I'm very passionate about, about sexual and reproductive health education.

Speaker 11:

Menstruation is a very big piece of the novel because of that. The book has often been challenged in banned in libraries. It's a 50 year old book. What do you think it is about sexual health and the reproductive system that may people so scared to talk about it with

Speaker 10:

Children? That's a great question. I think it's the word sexual, it's the word sex? I think we want to like maintain the innocence of children and young people as long as possible. And while that is commendable, it often leaves to a state where we hyper stigmatize sex , um, which isn't helpful to them in the long term . I think sex in itself is considered something that is dirty. And then reproductive health has kind of been pulled into that realm of like, if you're focusing on your reproductive health, it must be because you're having sex regardless of the fact that there are many reproductive health conditions that have nothing to do with your sex life and knowing about them can be helpful to like ensuring your long term health and, and like your best state of wellbeing. I think learning about birth control is super important from a young age. I think if you are menstruating, you should have an awareness of birth control. Um, regardless of if you're sexually active or not, that's quite controversial in some circles still. Um, because people just aren't super educated about why one might use birth control. Aside from the obvious

Speaker 11:

In the book, there is a scene in which , uh, the girls are at school and the school decides to provide a sex ed class. The way that they do this is they get a company that makes maxi pads to come out. And what , watch a video and talk to the girls separately about getting their period and feminine hygiene products , uh, looking at this depiction of sex ed , is this a good way to teach middle schoolers about their period and re productive health?

Speaker 10:

It's not my favorite thing. Um, there are things I like there are things I don't like first of all, I will say, I like the idea of bringing in an external person, someone who's not your normal teacher to teach sex ed. I think it allows kids to ask questions that they would not otherwise ask. That said it being like a very corporate person who is there primarily for advertising. Doesn't really sit very well with me. Um, I'm personally against separating boys and girls in reproductive and sex health classes. I think that it furthers the stigma around periods and makes boys like less knowledgeable and just less aware of what's happening. I think it's important for everyone to kind of be aware about what reproductive health looks like for both sexes. Um, I don't think there should be any like shame in menstruating. And I think that when you make it something that only the girls know about, there's kind of this implicit idea that boys should not know about this. And girls should not tell boys about this. Um, and I don't think that really helps anyone.

Speaker 11:

One other thing that came up in that scene was that one of the students asks about tampons and it's very quickly like shot down as a like, no, no, no, that's for when you're older and we're not going to talk about that here. Uh , which sent us down a rabbit hole of sort of myths about periods and feminine hygiene products. Um, I was gonna ask you, do you have any pet peeves in terms of a piece of bad information about either sexual health or periods, any kind of per pervasive myths that you would like to dispel?

Speaker 10:

Oh boy, there are so many, I will say the tampon was, is a huge one. I still hear people ask about whether like using a tampon means you're not a Virgin pushing the idea that virginity is this social construct. There's no biological basis for it. Um, like even the things that people frequently cite about the hymen , aren't really true. There's a lot of complicated anatomy there. Sex doesn't necessarily break the hymen things that are not sex can tampons don't take your virginity. That's a huge thing. Um, another thing I'm very passionate about is , um, like I said early , I think everyone should be more aware of how different forms of birth control work and the fact that there are different options. I've heard from many people who have had like really negative experiences on one form of birth control and don't ever take the opportunity to research other forms because they assume that because the hormones are similar or because they work in similar ways, all of them must not work. I really think people should be educated about the different forms of birth control available to them and what benefits all of them can have. Um, like I said earlier, there's tons of reasons people might be taking birth control and I think we should be doing a better job of educating people about what the advantages and disadvantages of each form are.

Speaker 11:

And Ashton , is there anything else you would like to leave our listeners with? You know , many of our listeners are millennials that were read these books when they were younger and now have children of their own. In some cases, is there anything you would like to leave with them as some words of advice on sexual

Speaker 5:

Education for themselves or potentially for their children going forward,

Speaker 10:

Talk to your kids about what their sex ed curriculum looks like by sex ed curriculum in the us is extremely varied , uh , from school to school , from county to county, from state to state. Um, don't assume that what you had is what they have. You might have to do additional research to get them information that they might just because school-based sex education. Isn't the greatest, there are a variety of programs , uh , that you can look into. I would recommend just like looking up local sex ed programs outside of schools, if you want your kid to get more information that they might not be getting from their school. And generally just as much as you can create a safe environment to talk about your kids' health, the best thing that you can have with your kid, I think is communication. Um, just to keep them safe and to keep you aware and to have a stronger relationship in general.

Speaker 3:

All right . Y also we are going to , um, do some trivia about the history of the period. Um, so I have a couple questions with multiple and I guess like as a team, you can confer and decide what you think the answer is. So , um, and just like a friendly disclaimer, like I just Googled all this stuff. So like don't use us medical advice

Speaker 2:

If it's on the internet, it has to

Speaker 5:

Be right.

Speaker 3:

Okay . So first question, I'm gonna have a terrible time pronouncing. This were period products made from what natural resource wrapped in gauze. Was it MOS dried leaves, charcoal or cotton ?

Speaker 5:

I'm gonna guess MOS, is it like Mona Moss thing

Speaker 2:

Available in sauce ? Yeah .

Speaker 5:

MOS. MOS.

Speaker 3:

Wow . You're so smart. It is made of sagna Moss .

Speaker 2:

Hey ,

Speaker 3:

Which can absorb more than 20 times its own dry weight in fluids and possesses antibacterial properties.

Speaker 5:

I mean, that sounds like something we could get at whole foods.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Do you want your organic?

Speaker 2:

I wanna see when you explain that one to your dog,

Speaker 3:

The realist go forage for their own sagna Moss and make their own. Okay. All but one of these was an original use of the tampon before it became used as a period product, which one is false. So there are three options. One of them is false option. Number one, to stop bleeding in deep wounds, option number two, two OB or chemicals and clean out test tubes in labs or option number three to administer medicine through the vagina.

Speaker 5:

I think I like the first one as being true. Cuz you still use things like packing like that for things.

Speaker 2:

I think number three , they all sound feasible.

Speaker 5:

I don't feel like you would need that on a tampon though. Suppositories are usually like something that will melt or

Speaker 3:

Suppository. That's the word I was looking for.

Speaker 5:

I I , well, and I mean, I think suppo I don't know if you call it that one. It's vaginal. Is it a pass ? I think it is . Or is it this isn't anyway podcast, but yes. Sorry. Uh , taking a little diversion into vaginal health. Um, I think number three is false. Let's go with three is false is false .

Speaker 3:

Nope . That is true. Oh ,

Speaker 5:

The test

Speaker 3:

To cleaning out test tubes. Uh , that was not true. So , um, the first successful tampon patent for menstruation was in 1931 by a man Earl Haas . And that became TPAC TPAC .

Speaker 5:

Well good for him. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Good for

Speaker 5:

Earl. Thanks Earl. He

Speaker 3:

Also invented, I didn't write it down, but he invented something else that helped. And so, you know, good for him.

Speaker 5:

Shout out Stewart .

Speaker 3:

Um, okay. The, this is another spot. Which one is false so well . Okay . Okay. Maybe spot. Which one is true because the I'm gonna give you three false pseudoscience beliefs around the period and one true science .

Speaker 5:

Okay. It

Speaker 3:

Actually

Speaker 5:

Exists. So we're looking for the true you're

Speaker 3:

Looking for the true . So I'm gonna say four statements. One is true periods, contain men toxins, which can cause wine to spoil and flowers to welt. It's number one, number two, menstrual blood can ward off hail storms and whirlwinds. If exposed to lightning, number three cold weather can make your period last longer and your PM worse or number four, you can burn a toad and where it's ashes around your neck to ward off cramps.

Speaker 5:

Three of those are true. No , I think three one is true . I think one is true . I think the first one about the wine spoiling, I mean, I feel like adding anything bacterial a wine might make it spoil. So that might be true. I don't know. I'm okay with one or three it's one of those is true. You say three, is that the one we were talking about? Sure . The cold weather , cold weather .

Speaker 3:

You're correct. That

Speaker 5:

Is true.

Speaker 3:

I mean, it's true. According to Cosmo, so , And the scientists they talk to. Um , but yes, the men , no toxins were invented by invented is not the right word described by professor sh in the 1910s.

Speaker 5:

Was that the razor guy?

Speaker 3:

I, I think it might be The boarding off hail storms and whirlwinds. That guy had a lot of thoughts about Metro blood . I just took one of many is the ancient Roman philosopher. Plenty. The elder.

Speaker 5:

Oh, plenty. Plenty , plenty. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

He had a lot

Speaker 5:

Of thoughts. There's also plenty. The younger who was probably cooler than plenty of the elder, plenty of the elder came up with it .

Speaker 3:

And then the burning a toad is from medieval times. They used to do that to word off cramps.

Speaker 5:

Toads,

Speaker 3:

Poor toads . Yeah. All right . In which decade was the first mens menstrual cup marketed the 1850s, the 1930s, the 1980s or the 2010s.

Speaker 5:

Oh God marketed.

Speaker 3:

I

Speaker 2:

Think it was the

Speaker 5:

18. I'd go early too. I mean they've existed for,

Speaker 6:

Yeah.

Speaker 5:

I mean hundreds and hundreds of years. So it's really just like when would things be marketed marketing . Right . I could feel like subtle marketing of some sort. That's like, like in the back of the exactly or like the ladies you're newspaper pattern or something. Sure. We'll go with the early one.

Speaker 3:

1850s. Yeah. No, the 1930s you were close . Um, yeah, they were invented and marketed in the 1930s by a woman. Um, but they did not come into fashion until the two thousands. All right . Last question. Who was the first actress to say period on TV, Madonna in a birth control commercial Candace Cameron during a very special episode of full house, Miley Cyrus on a VMA red carpet award show or Courtney Cox in a tampon commercial.

Speaker 5:

Okay. So I don't think it's Candace Cameron because I, I think full house was a later show than golden girls. And I have a vivid memory of watching an episode of golden girls when I was again, like probably like nine or 10 on reruns with my mom. And it was one where blanche goes through menopause. And so they're talking about like periods and she calls it the curse, like was what she call it when she was a kid. So I'm positive. They said that in that episode. So I don't think it can be Candace Cameron, cuz I think they said it on golden girls before that, which means it's probably not Madonna either.

Speaker 6:

It might be Courtney. So

Speaker 5:

Ongoing when she Cox and a commercial

Speaker 6:

Doing a commercial.

Speaker 5:

Yeah . Cause she did commercials and like music videos and stuff before she was right.

Speaker 2:

Okay. I agree. Courtney Cox Cox.

Speaker 5:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

You're correct. It was Courtney Cox in 1985 . Oh she was 1980 . I can't believe that we didn't say it until 1985. That's crazy to me. I mean

Speaker 5:

We still pour blue liquid in two pads on TV because of currently doing something that would actually look like blood, I guess would offend everyone's would

Speaker 3:

Struggle the

Speaker 5:

Sensibilities.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. All right . Well you um , only got one question wrong. So I would say you pass Certified period experts. I think,

Speaker 2:

I think our many years of

Speaker 3:

Experience

Speaker 5:

Experts .

Speaker 6:

Yes .

Speaker 5:

Each episode we ask whether our book passes, the Bede test, the Bede test asks whether a work features two female characters who talk to each other about something that doesn't involve men or boys. So does, are you there ? God , it's me. Margaret pass.

Speaker 2:

I give it a capital N oh , for most part .

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Cuz a lot of it does tie back to boys stuff.

Speaker 2:

Boys attracting boys.

Speaker 6:

Yeah. I think her interaction with her grandmother.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. I think she talks to her grandmother about stuff. That's not boys. She talks about,

Speaker 3:

She talks with Nancy about her religion.

Speaker 5:

Religion . Yes. I think it passes, but I do think it's, it's a surprisingly more close than you would guess in a book. That's almost all female characters.

Speaker 2:

Yep .

Speaker 3:

As usual. Yeah. But yeah, no, I think, I think there are actually quite a few scenes where she talks because half of the book is about religion. Unless you're like getting really deep into analyzing the gender constructs of religion. Uh , you know, I think, I think that gives a lot of opportunity to talk to other women about something that's not a man.

Speaker 2:

So it's overall, there's no weight cuz it does have areas where it's not talking. They're not talking about boys. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

It's a very low bar. If it happens one time. Oh

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well then yes, you're right. What books don't do it at least

Speaker 3:

Once he said

Speaker 5:

A

Speaker 2:

Thank God for grandma.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Good job Sylvia. And the like bra salesperson. I think that also rescues it. There's no talk of four during the bra sale. Right ?

Speaker 3:

Well that's it for this episode of these books made me join us next time when we'll discuss a book where a man swaps his name for that of a pastry, if you think you know which book we're tackling next, drop us a tweet or at he GC , M L S on Twitter and hashtag these books made me.