Going with the Flow
Menophilia is simply the love (philia) of menstrual blood. This sexual interest is also sometimes called “Flow” and performing oral during the monthly period has become known as “earning your red wings”.
Menstruation is a natural thing. All female-bodied individuals with a healthy reproductive system do it. So why is it so taboo? Even within kink-circles, it is something that some people shy away from, sometimes even with a level of disgust.
How taboo is Menophilia?
It is hard to gauge the actual amount of shame that is associated with menophilia. However, if I were to look at how menstruation is treated in our culture, it might give some indication of the level of stigma that comes with engaging in acts such as oral sex with a woman during her period.
I suspect that part of the problem stems from our sexual health education system, partially from advertising behaviours surrounding feminine hygiene products, and a lot to do with how religion views women who are menstruating.
Oral sex during the period (actually, oral sex in general) has become an accomplishment in outlaw lore.
The Wing System
The first time I encountered the term “earning your red wings” was from a biker friend. In the motorcycle club he rode with, they had a series of “wings” that members could earn for sexual activities. I was told that this originated with the Hells Angels, but I haven’t been able to locate any definitive history of the wing patches.
The wings are as follows (source: Mongols MC “Patches and what they mean“):
- Golden Wings: Participating in group sex involving more than six brothers
- White Wings: Performing oral sex on a white woman (In my friend’s MC, this was having sex with a virgin)
- Black Wings: Performing oral sex on a black woman
- Yellow Wings: Performing oral sex on an Asian woman
- Red Wings: Performing oral sex on a menstruating woman (menophilia)
- Green Wings: Performing oral sex on a woman infested with insects (crabs, scabies, etc)
- Purple Wings: Performing oral sex on a dead woman
- Brown Wings: Performing oral-anal sex (analingus)
- Blue Wings: Having sex with a policewoman
The idea that these are feats that will earn someone a patch gives some indication that these activities are seen as unusual, perhaps even taboo. If you take it one step further, oral sex itself seems to be something that is outside of societal norms (and if I were to pay attention to the dialogue on FetLife, going down on a woman appears to be questionable behaviour for Dominant males).
Okay, the sex education curriculum has come a long way since I was in school. My health class spent an entire week on sexual health, which included the reproductive systems for both male- and female-bodied persons (back then, there was no mention of transgender identities or nonheterosexual orientations). The information dealing with sexual activities amounted to abstain, or if you do have sex (penis in vagina, of course), use a condom. The nurse then proceeded to roll a condom over her head, thereby debunking the “they are too small and easily break” myth.
I got the core of my menstrual information from my mother. Or, more accurately from “Have you started yet?”, a book my mother unceremoniously presented me with before leaving me alone in my room. She knew I had already started, but she thought it might answer some questions I had about the process that was consuming my life (and as I share in the interview, I mean that quite literally). By the time she had presented me with the book, I already had my own doctor and was on hormonal birth control (at the age of 12) as a means to alleviate/regulate the intense cramping and excessive bleeding.
But, that one week of sexual health education I would receive several years later did nought to teaching me about what was happening in my body. By the time I reached sexual maturity, there was a strong shame associated with being a bleeder.
Fear and shame are powerful motivators. Anyone in marketing will tell you that one way to tap into a segment of the population is to convince them that they have a problem (or a need). When I worked in Risk Management, my answer to the standard question, “What do you do for a living?” was “I sell nightmares.” And, I did. If I could tap into their largest fear and demonstrate how it could mark the end of their business, I had a sale. And I had healthy sales … I sold nightmares.
And, that is the marketing strategy employed by feminine hygiene companies.
“Advertisements are instrumental in forming people’s views. Since advertisements have to be effective and appeal to values that are widely accepted in society, by studying advertisements one can see how people think and talk about things. These advertisements are the ones that create the fear of staining, leaking, bulging and smelling in us. They use the classic advertising technique-‘You got the problem, we have the solution.’ Femcare companies sell their products using shame. This is turn extends the stigma around talking about menstruation openly. Ads for menstrual sanitary products never show menstrual blood (though in 2010 an ad by Always had a neat drop of blood). They replace the blood with a ’blue liquid’ to show absorptiveness. The fact that it was and still is unacceptable to show blood on TV or print shows people’s approach to it in everyday life. Discussing about menses is considered offensive and disgusting.” (Bhartiya, 2013)
It is a successful stratagem if selling your products is your sole goal (and for many companies, that is as far as their interests go). However, it furthers the shame that many young people already feel because their body is behaving differently than their male counterparts. That being said, there is one thing that the advertisers have capitalised on: even when you are on the rag, you can still participate in activities (just use our products to keep you dry, odour- and stain-free).
Religion, however, isn’t so kind to those of us who bleed.
The Curse of Eve
I grew up in a religious environment, and menses was seen as Eve’s punishment for seducing Adam.
“Go forth and multiply”, the good book says. And so began the shame and vilification of woman. Oh, but that isn’t clear enough to show that women are to be avoided during their dreaded time of the month. So, many of the world religions developed rules and rituals surrounding the wonder of healthy reproductive health.
Instead of going into details of the lengths some religions have taken to keep women under their thumb, I will instead refer you to the Aru Bhartiya paper, Menstruation, Religion and Society (linked in the Related Reading section). With the sole exception of Sikhism, all of the major religions have rules that state, among other things, that a woman who is bleeding is unclean and those who engage in sexual activity with them during that time are also unclean.
Sexual Beings – All Month-long
With our lack of education, the marketing of shame, and religious ostracization, is it any wonder that sexual activity during that time of the month has become taboo? Hell, most people can’t even have a frank discussion about a woman’s period without resorting to the use of euphemisms. I have friends (some of whom have healthy sexual appetites) who will divert their attention from the television when an ad for feminine hygiene products comes on the air.
But, women are sexual beings and that includes the period of time when their uterus is shedding its lining.
MrRedWing and Menophilia
I recently had the opportunity to talk about menophilia with Patrick, or MrRedWing. He shared with me some of the joy he experiences while engaging with women during that “dreaded visitor“. Our discussion will be available tonight as the latest instalment of Stereo-Typed (episode 28) and Fetish Philes (episode 3).
While a woman is not unclean (as proscribed by religion) during her cycle, this is a messy, enjoyable business.
If you are available at 7 pm ET, I will be participating in the chat.
- Allen, K.R., & Goldberg, A.E. (2009). Sexual Activity During Menstruation: A Qualitative Study. The Journal of Sex Research, 46(6), 535-545. DOI: 10.1080/00224490902878977
- Bhartiya, A. (2013). Menstruation, Religion and Society. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 3(6), 523-527. DOI: 10.7763/IJSSH.2013.V3.296
- Fahs, B. (2011). Sex during menstruation: Race, sexual identity, and women’s accounts of pleasure and disgust. Feminism and Psychology, 21(2), 155-178. DOI: 10.1177/0959353510396674
- Menstruation Taboo – wikipedia article
- Blood lust: A brief overview of menophilia – Dr Mark Griffiths
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