USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘menses’
Folk Beliefs
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Bears and Menstruation

My mother grew up in rural California. She spent a lot of her time outside and hiking. When she was a Girl Scout, she heard that when you are on your period you should avoid going in the great outdoors.

JE:”I always heard growing up that it wasn’t safe to hike or go camping while you were on your period. Apparently bears and other predatory animals can smell it and are more likely to attack. When I was growing up, two women were killed by a bear and the rumor was that it was because one (or both) of the women were menstruating.”

Me: Who told you this?

JE: My Girl Scout Leader was the most distinct person I can remember. There were some men at my church who wouldn’t let their daughters (my friends) because they thought that women should not hike, camp or even venture into the back county during their periods because it will attract predators who will come and eat them. This cautionary advice goes for women around the world. ”

Analysis: I researched the validity of this superstition, and it holds little scientific evidence. The superstition has a strong hold on people because it’s a pretty visceral- blood, gruesome attacks, young girls, etc. To me, however, it seems like a fear of bears morphed into an unfounded belief. At one point, this was perhaps a good way to keep young girls from exerting themselves in the woods when their families believed women should be at home. The stereotype only reinforces the idea that women are not as suited to survival in the wilderness as men.

For the Yellowstone Bearman’s advice on this folk belief, see:

http://www.yellowstone-bearman.com/menstruation_data.html

Folk Beliefs

Spellbinding Spaghetti

Richard L Cuthbert was born in Savannah, Georgia.  His father was in the United States Air Force and Richard ending being raised by his paternal grandmother.  He moved to Compton, California with his relatives from his father’s side of the family.  It is here where he met his high school sweetheart, Twesa Cuthbert.  They had two children together.  Richard (now widowed) currently lives in Rialto, California with his daughter, Keesha Cuthbert.

One thing that I have a hard time eating from any other woman is spaghetti.  I know that it is probably just a silly superstition, and I wouldn’t exactly say that I am a superstitious man, but every time I see a plate of spaghetti that I didn’t prepare I get a weird feeling.  As the story goes, women, especially from the South, that are islanders in any way … I’m talking Jamaican or those women that practice voodoo, sometime put blood from their women’s cycle into the sauce.  Supposedly this is to make the mean that eat it fall under some sort of spell and be in love with them.  I personally think that this is disgusting and I cannot imagine any woman doing something that nasty.  I also can’t figure why,  if they did do this, that they wouldn’t put it in a more Creole dish, like gumbo or jumbalaya.  A dish that has more to do with their heritage.  Spaghetti has nothing to do with them, so in a lot of ways I don’t believe it.  But … women ARE crazy so I don’t know.

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