Who knew there was so much to say about menstruation? Harvard sophomore and menstrual rights activist Nadya Okamoto did. Several years ago, the conversations she found herself having with homeless women about how they managed their monthly periods inspired her to look into the politics of menstruation. In 2014, she founded the nonprofit PERIOD, a youth-run engine of what she calls the Menstrual Movement, which seeks to destigmatize the bodily function and ensure that supplies reach those suffering "period poverty."
Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement covers basic ground (the physiology of periods, the history and types of feminine hygiene products) as well as less conventional terrain, including period-positive attitudes in pop culture and examples of the laughably uptight language of archival literature about menstruation. Okamoto relays all this using a tirelessly conversational voice ("A dude! A dude came up with the first tampon!") speckled with ALL CAPS for oomph ("SO COOL, RIGHT?!"). This isn't to say that Okamoto is a stranger to righteous indignation, as about the fact that most states tax sanitary supplies as luxury goods but don't tax nonessentials for men like Rogaine and Viagra ("ARE YOU &@%$&# KIDDING ME?!").
Period Power makes a credible case that when girls and women miss school and work due to period poverty, we can't be surprised by their less-than-equal representation in politics, STEM fields and other male-dominated professions. Okamoto is a force, and doubtless some readers--menstruators and otherwise--will leave Period Power proud Period Warriors. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author