Paired with Caron Tabb’s current exhibition, “Humanity Is Not a Spectator Sport“, a selected series of readings seek to align messages and ideas formed in Tabb’s show with concepts and works of others in the real world.
In “Humanity is Not a Spectator Sport”, Tabb unflinchingly invites the viewer to both experience her own struggles with race, racism, and white privilege while also providing tools for others to take a similar look into their own lives. While never seeking to preach, Tabb instead extends an invitation to engage. She allows the viewer glimpses of the innate goodness we all have inside of ourselves through portraits of courageous women and her own introspection. She endeavors to reveal our common bonds while breaking down the artificial barriers we create so easily.
Through a list of readings, Tabb hopes to expand the topics of these difficult conversations being formed in the gallery and exhibition and explore them within our own lives and introspective worlds. As such, the second reading in this series serves as a collection of lived experiences in informing and guiding the movement and debate behind the history of period poverty activism.
About the selected reading:
Written by the award-winning journalist and bestselling author Anita Diamant of The Boston Girl, among others, “Period. End of Sentence” is a collection of essays aimed at informing and motivating those around the globe of what is known as ‘period positive activism’. Directly detailing the multitude of ways in which a female’s menstrual cycle can and does impact the daily reality and major trajectory of that individual’s life within different situations and parts of the world, “Period. End of Sentence” reveals the ways in which periods connect many in a shared struggle and, in some places, very real threat.
When the documentary short of the same name won an Oscar in 2019, Melissa Barton (co-producer of the film and executive director of The Pad Project) notoriously shared with the audience that, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.” While, for many in the United States, a period comes with some embarrassment, hushed conversations, a bit of financial burden, and other monthly side effects (which can range from mere annoyance to consistently debilitating), there remain places where having a period comes with much more serious repercussions. In a world where young women are forced to leave schooling, limit their educational, social, and career opportunities, and live under a veil of shame or even physical threat by those in their same societies, Anita Diamant shows us how we can be part of the change.
Shark week. Aunt Flo. *That* time of the month. Red wedding. Girl flu. Chum. Code red.
Research from INTIMINA and conducted by OnePoll shows that the average woman spends about $13.25 every single month for around forty years on menstrual products. For some this is just an inconvenience while, for many, it is a continued financial strain, as well as mental, physical, and technical worry each and every month. While studies show that more than half believe in the right to cost-free government-supplied sanitary products, no legal changes have yet been made in the United States to provide for these needs.
Anita Diamant’s book celebrates a new era and wave of activism against period poverty, social stigma, and cultural injustice, while highlighting advancements in the realm of menstrual products, positive advertising, expressive art, and uplifting comedy. With a wide range of stories encompassing the many various negative experiences which come along with having a period, such as a group of middle school girls who joined together to speak against their male school principal who claimed female students would “abuse the privilege” if free tampons were made available in school restrooms, “Period. End of Sentence.” is an eye-opening collection of accounts of what it often means to be female in our society– expectations, limitations, discriminations, and all.
About the artwork:
Of this piece, Caron Tabb writes: “Standing in for human bodies of every color, shape, size, and form are hand-knotted vessels made of textiles, yarns, and paper. They represent the wonderful diversity of skin tones found throughout the world, with colors interlocking and bound organically together by mere tension. This outer layer, if peeled away, would reveal that inside we are all linked by a similar connective tissue.”
As humans, about seven percent of our bodies are composed of blood. That being said, blood has for many centuries been a focus of our existence, such as in the scopes of health (type-based treatment, blood-letting, and humorism just to name a few), as well as culturally and philosophically, as well. While the original saying states that, “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”, meaning that bonds made by choice are more significant than those made by biological relation, the message is often misconstrued as, simply, “blood is thicker than water”, referring vaguely to the relevance of birth family. Regardless, the continued importance we place on the concept of our blood is clear.
However, for centuries leading up to today, the ways in which our blood might differ from that of the next person’s have been emphasized while the shared experience goes overlooked. Both Anita Diamant’s book and Tabb’s artwork seek to embolden the idea that what matters is our often unseen collective circumstances within the reality of our lived experience. No matter which shade of color has decided to show on the outside – and no matter the varying topical differences among the lives of women around the world – we all bleed the same red. Perhaps by first understanding and accepting this fact, there is a chance we may realize all the ways in which we are unconditionally bound together in our existence, instead of the situational differences we have created and manifested among us.
What role does blood play in our culture and society on a symbolic level?
What beliefs in our systems are behind the misdirection of the ‘blood versus water’ proverb?
In what ways have you, or females you know, been affected by having a period?
How would supplying sanitary products free-of-charge change the experience?
How do those experiencing homelessness manage periods and costly menstrual products?
For more information on period poverty, research, and statistics, I found the article I previously referenced informative, helpful, and a good place to start. You can read the full writeup here: https://swnsdigital.com/2019/11/new-research-reveals-how-much-the-average-woman-spends-per-month-on-menstrual-products/
Anita Diamant is a novelist, journalist, essayist, and the author of five guidebooks to contemporary Jewish life. She resides in Massachusetts. Her book discussed here, “Period. End of Sentence.” is available for purchase online or at your local bookstore. To learn more about author Anita Diamant, you can visit her website: www.anitadiamant.com
We thank you for taking the time to engage with us and the show. Caron Tabb’s show, “Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport”, will be on view at Beacon Gallery November 5th, 2021 through mid-January 2022. For more information, visit our website: www.beacongallery.com and follow us on instagram @beacongallery
For all other inquiries, or to contact the gallery directly, please reach out to email@example.com