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

Nash, M ORCID: 0000-0002-7429-4924 2022 , 'Breaking the silence around blood: managing menstruation during remote Antarctic fieldwork' , Gender, Place and Culture , pp. 1-22 , doi:

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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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nash, M
Keywords: menstruation, Antarctica, polar, fieldwork, extreme environment, gender
Journal or Publication Title: Gender, Place and Culture
Publisher: United Kingdom
ISSN: 0966-369X
DOI / ID Number:
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© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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