Three social guidance films on menstruation provided to educate people like Donald Trump

By on August 8, 2015

If you’re keeping up with the news, you’ve probably read or heard or seen that bloviating real estate developer, TV personality and presidential hopeful Donald Trump has continued to attack Fox News political commentator Megyn Kelly, one of the hosts of Thursday night’s first Republican candidate debate, after she pointedly asked him about some of the anti-women remarks he’s made over the years.

Yesterday, speaking on CNN, and also repeating some of the things he sent out on Twitter, he referred to Kelly as unprofessional, talentless and even menstrual after she challenged him over his comments about women, saying this about her appearance at the debate: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever.”

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The remark about Kelly’s menstruation — rightly or wrongly, that “blood coming out of her wherever” comment was widely interpreted as a reference to Kelly being on her period — got Trump officially banned from one of the biggest gatherings of conservative activists, the RedState Gathering.

In an attempted clarification yesterday, Trump says he meant “whatever” not “wherever” — Trump would also later said he meant to say that blood was coming out of her nose, and then realizing how it was being interpreted, added “Only a deviant would think anything else” — but we thought perhaps that clarifying remark was actually more of an indication that he really doesn’t know squat about menstruation in the first place, and so we’re providing these three films strictly for educational purposes, in case anyone wants to send them directly to Trump’s smart-ass phone.

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The first film, a social guidance 70s classic called Linda’s Film on Menstruation, was lensed in 1974 and financed by the Creative Artists Public Service Program of the New York State Council of the Arts (CAPS), a program that existed from 1970 to 1981. The film follows the story of 15-year old Judy, who has just gotten her first period and is trying to explain it to her befuddled boyfriend Johnny, who is played by actor Jonathan Banks  — he plays Mike Ehrmantraut on both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” — and you’ll note he’s a little more hairy in this vintage clip.

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Luckily, a cartoon character named Francine mysteriously appears on her TV in order to provide info about the female anatomy and to remind girls to use birth control. The filmmakers also asked both men and women on the streets of Manhattan, NY, for their feelings about menstruation and they got some great responses.

This second film, Molly Grows Up, features Molly (Betsy Hawkins), who is anxiously awaiting her first sign of menstruation, which means that she’ll be able to date and go dancing. The school nurse explains exactly what menstruation is to her, by using diagrams.

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This one dates back to 1953, and was sponsored by Medical Arts Productions, who provided this info about their social guidance film for health ed teachers and whomever might be showing the film to a young audience:

“This film provides a calm, forthright, faithful, and sympathetic portrayal of a girl’s experiences connected with the growing-up process. Dealing as it does with both the biological and social aspects of menstruation, the film should be useful in explaining to adolescents the menstruation process and allaying their fear. Parents should find the film helpful in suggesting ways of handling their daughter’s questions about menstruation and developing desirable attitudes toward the whole process of growing up. Both groups should also find the film effective for stimulating group discussion.”

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Finally, for our third film, we have The Story of Menstruation, a 10-minute animated classic produced by Walt Disney Productions in 1946.

Disney’s experience with military training films is echoed in this film: The film uses animated diagrams to detail the menstrual cycle, and there are no backgrounds, and animation cycles are re-used, and the great majority of the film concentrates on these limited animation diagrams of the ovaries and fallopian tubes rather than character animation. (In fact, one scene of the girls of different ages have them standing stock still in a circle while a cute little black Scottie dog in the center turns to each one.)

The film’s narrator — by actress Gloria Blondell, who is not identified in the credits — informs the viewer that “there is nothing strange or mysterious about menstruation,” and it shows women engaged in such activities as bathing, riding a horse, and dancing during their menstrual cycles. The narration also provides advice to avoid constipation and depression, and to always keep up a fine outward appearance.

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The Story of Menstruation is believed to be the first film to use the word “vagina” in its screenplay, and neither sexuality nor reproduction is mentioned in the film. This emphasis on sanitation makes the film, as Disney historian Jim Korkis has suggested: “a hygienic crisis rather than a maturation event.”

It was commissioned by the International Cello-Cotton Company (now Kimberly-Clark) and was one of the first commercially sponsored films to be distributed to high schools, and shown to approximately 105 million American students in health education classes. It was distributed with a booklet for teachers and students called “Very Personally Yours” that featured advertising of the Kotex brand of products, and actually discouraged the use of tampons. At the time, the menstruation product market was dominated by rival company Procter & Gamble (Kotex, you see, produced no tampons, only sanitary napkins).

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The narration ends this way: “And that’s the story. There’s nothing strange nor mysterious about menstruation. All life is built on cycles and the menstrual cycle is one normal and natural part of nature’s eternal plan of passing on the gift of life.”

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.