Lit­tle Miss Period: A char­ac­ter to per­son­ify periods

von Ailsa
Little Miss Period, stigma period, period taboo, period movie, menstruation film, Areyo Hoshikuzu, Mieruko-Chan, termae romae, showa gernroku rakugo shinju, anime, mieruko chan anime, Little Miss P, Periode Stigma, Periode Tabu, Periode Film, Menstruation Film, Periode Anime, Frau Periode, Vulvani

In late 2019, the com­pany Yoshi­moto Kogyo released the com­edy film Lit­tle Miss Period, about a char­ac­ter who per­son­i­fies peri­ods. She is a ‘pink, heart-shaped being’ who both­ers men­stru­at­ing peo­ple month-by-month, ‘deliv­er­ing awful gut punches but also offer­ing a shoul­der to cry on.’ Lit­tle Miss Period, or Seiri-chan, in Japan­ese, also extracts blood with a syringe, to show how hav­ing your period can feel.

‘If only men could get peri­ods, even just once a year.’

The film is based on a manga by the cis­gen­der male artist Ken Koyama. Said manga is described as very blunt, with Lit­tle Miss Period vis­it­ing men­stru­a­tors to deliver her ‘men­strual punches’ as cramps. But she also sup­ports them in day-to-day sit­u­a­tions. And if a men­stru­at­ing woman encoun­ters a rude, unfeel­ing part­ner or boss, she punches them as well, to show how it feels. The film’s plot is largely sim­i­lar. Aoko, the main char­ac­ter, works in a pub­lish­ing com­pany under a cis­gen­der male boss who is dis­mis­sive towards her pain. She also has a wid­ower boyfriend who is rais­ing a young daugh­ter by him­self. She says at one point, ‘If only men could get peri­ods, even just once a year.’

Here is the Japan­ese trailer:

YouTube video

Lit­tle Miss Period in a larger context

The film is an attempt to des­tig­ma­tise peri­ods in Japan by estab­lish­ing greater under­stand­ing between sexes about them. It even acknowl­edges the his­tory behind it: there is a story about a girl from feu­dal era Japan. She is forced to stay in a sep­a­rate hut to her fam­ily, since peri­ods are ‘unclean.’

Men­strual leave has been a legal right in Japan since the 1940s, but it isn’t as utopic as it sounds. It is down to indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies how much leave is offered, or if it’s paid or unpaid. Few men­stru­a­tors feel com­fort­able tak­ing it, for sev­eral rea­sons. It would reveal their cycles to their bosses and co-work­ers. They could risk them fac­ing sex­ual harass­ment. And in a work force where they are the under­dogs, it could antag­o­nise non-men­stru­at­ing col­leagues who resent pick­ing up the work. Fur­ther­more, the Shinto reli­gion and other large parts of Japan­ese soci­ety see men­stru­a­tion as impure, so it is rarely dis­cussed. Many men­stru­a­tors may not even know if their employ­ers offer it, or they have never been encour­aged to take it. This sort of silence and resent­ment born of igno­rance is what the film hopes to tackle.

Praise and crit­i­cisms for Lit­tle Miss Period

The film was largely received with pos­i­tive applause for what it did and what it tried to do. Read­ers of the manga had already noted that while it was a step for­wards, it was not free of prob­lems. Some such crit­i­cisms seem to have car­ried through to the film. Its key cri­tiques were the stereo­types about men­stru­a­tion it used, and also its dis­re­gard for under­ly­ing sex­ism through­out the work­place across all fields in Japan. One author, the fem­i­nist Minori Kita­hara, said the efforts were wel­come but the film treated the sub­ject ‘like a com­edy talk show.’

Despite this, the film is con­sid­ered a sur­pris­ingly hon­est depic­tion of liv­ing through men­stru­a­tion. Movie-goers all gen­ders alike found it use­ful to bridg­ing the gap in under­stand­ing. One woman said that she thought all men should watch it. Her boyfriend called it ‘instruc­tive,’ as he had expe­ri­enced lit­tle dis­cus­sion of the topic before then. Another per­son expressed she felt hope­ful when she learned the direc­tor was a man, as it moved her greatly. She even cried a lit­tle while watching.

YouTube video

Other impacts

In the spirit of encour­ag­ing open­ness, the Daimaru depart­ment store in Osaka opted to offer ‘well­be­ing badges’ for their men­stru­at­ing work­ers. These badges, dec­o­rated with Lit­tle Miss Period, were intended to be worn while men­stru­at­ing. They encour­aged sym­pa­thy and sol­i­dar­ity among col­leagues. But the deci­sion sparked con­tro­versy: some shop­pers sup­ported the idea, oth­ers feared it could make the work­ers tar­gets of harass­ment. Daimaru chose to recon­sider and redesign the badges to be less conspicuous.

Lit­tle Miss Period can clearly be a sym­bol for increased open­ness and under­stand­ing around men­stru­a­tion in Japan­ese soci­ety. But the sub­ject remains a com­plex, bloody one – in Japan and around the entire world.

Veröffentlicht am 30. September 2021
Von Ailsa
Ailsa wohnt in England und studiert Geschichte und Politik in Schottland. Sie verbringt ihre Zeit gerne mit Schreiben, TagtrĂ€umen und Gedanken ĂŒber die Zukunft - insbesondere ĂŒber Frauen und LGBT-Menschen in allen drei.

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