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PURCHASE THE DIGITAL COLLECTION (2013)
Simone de Beauvoir
B. 9.9.08 Paris / D. 4.14.86 Paris
This complex process, still mysterious in many of its details, involves the whole female organism, since there are hormonal reactions between the ovaries and other endocrine organs, such as the pituitary, the thyroid, and the adrenals, which affect the central nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, and in consequence all the viscera. The acacia blossoms are dropping. All over sweltering Brooklyn has fallen this carpet of moth-winged capsules the color of old artificial pearls.
Almost all women—more than eighty-five per cent—show more or less distressing symptoms during the menstrual period. Sticky when crushed underfoot, the acacia blossoms get carried on shoes into vestibules, hallways, beyond—I tracked a bunch in on the wheels of my laundry cart, too, and now they’re all over the floor of my room.
Blood pressure rises before the beginning of the flow and falls afterward; Along with my clothes, both clean and dirty.
the pulse rate and often the temperature are increased, so that fever is frequent; Laundry.
pains in the abdomen are felt; Always more laundry to do.
often a tendency to constipation followed by diarrhea is observed; frequently there are also swelling of the liver, retention of urea, and albuminuria; I wish I could be like other people someday and use all the dryers.
many subjects have sore throat and difficulties with hearing and sight; perspiration is increased and accompanied at the beginning of the menses by an odor sui generis, Uh huh.
which may be very strong and may persist throughout the period. Uh huh, uh huh.
The rate of basal metabolism is raised. Whoo! it was hot in here today, especially when I put the broiler on to make myself hot dogs for lunch.
The red blood count drops. The blood carries substances usually put on reserve in the tissues, especially calcium salts; the presence of these substances reacts on the ovaries, on the thyroid—which enlarges— I forgot what I was going to say.
and on the pituitary (regulator of the changes in the uterine lining described above) which becomes more active. This glandular instability brings on a pronounced nervous instability. Something about women in the workplace—but the point has escaped me.
The central nervous system is affected, with frequent headache, and the sympathetic system is overactive; unconscious control through the central system is reduced, freeing convulsive reflexes and complexes and leading to a marked capriciousness of disposition. Under the streetlights the acacia trees look so beautiful, flaunting their bottle-blond bouquets of blossoms in the breezes cast by air-conditioned brownstones and the passing, blossom-plastered cars.
The woman is more emotional, more nervous, more irritable than usual, and may manifest serious psychic disturbance. I want to walk up and down the sidewalk, barefoot, sticky-footed with acacia blossom wine (very dry); I want to pin congratulations to the trees tonight.
It is during her periods that she feels her body most painfully as an obscure, alien thing; Pound pound little notes into their legs.
it is, indeed, the prey of a stubborn and foreign life that each month constructs and then tears down a cradle within it; “You’re beautiful,” they’ll say, my notes.
each month all things are made ready for a child and then aborted in the crimson flow. Or perhaps, “You go!”
Woman, like man, is her body; but her body is something other than herself. With every hammer tap another fistful of petals to patter on my graying head.
Quotation from S. de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949 (trans. H.M. Parshley, 1952).
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