Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock / Introduction

 

 

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INTRODUCTION

 

What is the history of tampon-related toxic shock syndrome?  And just as important:  Who gets to write this history?

 

In 1997, a toxic shock syndrome timeline was created by researcher Rana A. Hajjeh and co-authors.  Spanning 1979–1996, this timeline notes important US tampon safety milestones, as well as the resultant decline in toxic shock cases:

 

 

Toxic shock syndrome cases,* menstrual vs. nonmenstrual, United States, 1979–1996, Rana A. Hajjeh,* Arthur Reingold,† Alexis Weil,* Kathleen Shutt,* Anne Schuchat,* and Bradley A. Perkins*

 

 

A total of 5,296 cases of toxic shock syndrome were identified, of which 3,921 were “menstrual,” that is, tampon related.

 

3,921 cases, occurring among millions of girls and women over an 18-year period, represents only a tiny percentage of tampon users actually becoming ill.  Why, then, do we need to think of this as relevant history now, deserving of a full-fledged exhibit, rather than mildly interesting “ancient history,” well covered by news media, the scientific establishment and governmental agencies?

 

The short answer is that the rate of new TR-TSS cases has dropped dramatically - but not to “0.”

 

And the long answer...involves an answer to another question entirely.  In a March 2000 speech, curator Renee Baert said:

 

“...I’d like to try to think [of] feminist curatorial practice as a potential site, a space for speculation, for local contingencies, for new structures of knowledge and pleasure, and, more largely, for poetics...”

 

New structures of knowledge? Pleasure? Poetics? Can an exhibit exploring the history of tampon-related toxic shock syndrome really yield any of these?  MOLT says yes:

 

 

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Mission Statement / Critique of the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health:
Why do we need another museum of this kind?

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UFOs

Art, Poetry and Music

of the Menovulatory Lifetime

From Protection to Expression: The Future of Menstrual Advertising

Menstrual Monday

Broken Tampon Memorial Fountain

 

Menovulography:  the years from puberty to menopause, told as a story with pictures

 

Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock

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