a question

A question pops into my head as I watch “Joan Wilder” (played by Kathleen Turner) traipse through a Colombian jungle with “Jack T. Colton” (Michael Douglas) in the movie “Romancing the Stone.”

How come women are NEVER on their periods during such crucial times?  What would it do to the trajectory of the story if Joan Wilder was having one of her “heavy days” while on the run with Jack T. Colton–what to do without extra tampons or maxi-pads?  It doesn’t stop there–why isn’t Catherine Zeta Jones’ character on her period during any of those crucial theft adventures in “Entrapment?”  How come, for heaven’s sake, Wonder Woman is never on her period?

When I was a kid, I asked my father why the characters on TV (sitcoms and dramas alike) never had to use the bathroom.  “How come they never have to pee?”  My dad chuckled in response, choking out a bemused “Good question!”

Seriously, sometimes writers forget to give their characters bodily functions.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “a question

  1. Jade…I have often thought of this very same thing. People portrayed on television don’t use bathrooms very often at all, nor have periods, especially during “hot” scenes. Women never have headaches or cramps on televison/movies – or if they do it is rare. Also, most of my problems don’t get resolved in 30 or 60 minute segements. Go figure.

  2. my husband and i discussed this very issue once during a movie. it’s very funny.

  3. Of course the same could be said for belching, burbing and flatus! 😉

  4. Good point.
    There’s Mel Gibson in “What Women Want” – who supposedly could read women’s minds. He could hear women’s desires, gripes and more….but now I remember the silence on other bodily functions.
    In fact, not one thought crossed his radar about gas, cramps, etc.

  5. Good observation.
    I s’pose one of the reasons why writers of film and television scripts conveniently forget uncomfortable bodily facts is that they’re writing fiction. A lot of what they write does not happen in reality. Similarly, a lot of what happens in reality does not happen in their fiction.

  6. There’s a great section in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook that deals with this–the character (a writer) has decided to write down everything that happens during one day, and then discovers she’s having her period, but then deals with writing about it anyway. That blew me away when I read it the first time (it’s also a very interesting book for a woman writer to read, although there is a lot of stuff abt communism in it, which I mostly just skip).

  7. Yup–I realize that bodily functions are usually not “part of the story” and so the writer doesn’t include that in story writing. BUT–there is a VAST silence on this!

    Like queenkv points out, the movie “What Women Want” doesn’t even include anything on female bodily functions…even though it’s explicitly a movie about a man living in a female body! (Though I must say the movie “The Hot Chick” does this EXCELLENTLY when the man who inhabits the woman’s body gasps with shock as he reads the instructions on a tampon box).

    And I’m glad, Lucette, that Doris Lessing decided to include it in her book–it’s a big challenge to include such a thing!

  8. I’d also like to know a woman’s perspective of living in a man’s body. Not sure if any movies or books have portrayed that.

  9. w

    Forgive me for knowing this, but there’s an Ellen Barkin film (can’t remember title) where a man’s consciousness (soul?) jumps into a woman’s body, and then s/he tries to seduce a woman and her/his best friend comes on to her/him.

  10. Hey W–I think imdb.com should become your friend. 🙂

  11. Tea

    Have you read Shutterbabe, by Deborah Copaken Kogan? It’s a memoir of her young years as an aspiring war photojournalist. The opening scene, if I remember correctly, has her off in the Hindu Kush in Afganistan, with a band of Afghan guerillas, where she gets her period.

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