SOCIAL PERCEPTION OF MENSTRUAL CYCLE: IMPLICATION FOR WOMEN’S ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT
The notion of ‘woman’ has been designated in both sex and gender terms. The former gives credence to the biological definition of woman as ‘human female’ while the latter emphasizes social or cultural determination of the ‘human female’ by virtue of social position, role, norm as well as expectation. From another perspective, the two conceptions are adopted interchangeably, such that being a woman means being ‘female’. This discourse draws upon the notion of ‘woman’ in gender terms, implying that women sexuality (as female) is construed socially via the position/roles ascribed to women in certain physiological states or conditions. The phenomenon of menstrual cycle/menstruation remains one of such condition or state. The sense in which menstrual cycle is perceived as a “dirty” phenomenon, to condition the stereotypical identity of women in such conditions or state as shameful, impure, inactive and unproductive is the point of emphasis in this discourse. Basically, this discourse alludes to the social perception of menstrual cycle within three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, to substantiate the assumption of stereotyped identity attributed to women, with the intention to discern the implication it has for women’s role/participation in development. It adopts symbolic interactionism as a theoretical framework, and draws insight from relevant texts and literatures. The paper submits that social perception of women in certain physiological condition like menstrual cycle, is also a factor responsible for the stereotyped identity and subordination of women’s status, role or participation in development.
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