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Maybe Women Are Just Bitches After All

Oct 28, 12 Maybe Women Are Just Bitches After All

Why do women always get mad when a man asks them, “Do you have PMS or something, because you’re obviously in a bad mood?” It’s been a commonly-held belief for all eternity that the hormonal changes during the premenstrual days causes women to be moody, whiny, and overly-emotional. Knowing that, it seems to be a reasonable question for man to ask.

Of course, no man’s ever asked me that, because I pretty much act like that all the time. Nobody can tell when I’m about to have a period, based on my attitude, anyway. I do break out like a 14-year old, however.

I never watched much TV, but there was one quote from the old “Roseanne” sitcom that has remained memorable to me:

 “Jackie Harris: Are you sure Dan doesn’t know [your period’s late]?
Roseanne Conner: No, he thinks I’m right on schedule.
Jackie Harris: How did you manage that?
Roseanne Conner: I faked PMS. I even added an extra day for the heck of it.”

So throughout history, that’s how it’s been. If a woman’s acting all nutty, it must be because of her period. That may change, if New Zealand researcher Dr. Sarah Romans has anything to say about it. She led a research team that found some very interesting data about women and their menstrual cycles.

After reviewing 47 studies that tracked women’s moods during their cycles, Romans and her team found little correlation between wild mood swings and the days preceding menstruation. In fact, only 15% of the time did women actually exhibit classic PMS symptoms, defined as a rather sour mood that starts right before menstruation and lifts once it actually begins. They also found that 38% of women have negative moods that continue throughout the menstruation.

Then, of course, there was always the 9% of women – just like me – who have the mood “disorder” outside of the menstrual phase. So I suppose 9% of women, at least, are just bitches!

Kathryn Clancy is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois. She had no affiliation with the New Zealand study but does focus on reproductive behavior and she said that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that PMS symptoms vary by culture and country of origin.

It seems like the ideas of premenstrual syndrome might just be linked to the days when almost all doctors were men and, often, sexist. It stems from a time when women really didn’t know as much about their bodies as we do now and didn’t understand how or why things worked the way they did. Doctors had “cures” for “hysteria” back in the Victorian age using vibrators to help women have a hysterical paroxysm which, as any woman can tell you, will instantly improve a mood!

The doctor’s study also found information none of us will find surprising: there are many other factors that can influence a person’s mood. It might be something as simple as the day of the week. One of my ex-students explained it best: “Everyone hates Tuesdays. I mean, Monday is a reason for optimism. Wednesday is halfway through the week. Thursday is almost Friday and Friday is, well, FRIDAY! But Tuesday…Tuesday has nothing going for it.” The studies showed similar trends in women’s moods based on days of the week.

It also stands to reason that just everyday, regular stress will change a woman’s mood, regardless of the time of the month. It’s also common sense to conclude that a woman’s mood will change slightly with the fluctuation in hormones. So while it is true that the mood swings women (and men) attribute to PMS are largely imagined, it is a monthly truth for many women.

For the majority, the mood changes that happen in the blink of an eye merely indicate that we are just, indeed, all bitches deep down.

Image Credit: marekuliasz / Shutterstock

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