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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"That time of the month" : the history of PMS research in Vancouver 1983-1997 Clark, Allison Sandra


This thesis examines how the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s influenced scholarship in the social sciences, and how the feminism growing out of this movement affected premenstrual syndrome (PMS) research. Since the 1980s social science paradigms guiding P M S research have begun to consider how biology and the environment mutually influence one another to produce premenstrual changes. The work examined in this thesis uses feminism to challenge traditional scientific approaches to PMS, including claims o f "objectivity," negative evaluations of menstrual changes in women, the claim that women experience natural cycles and men do not, and the belief that the expression of anger contradicts the feminine role. The research herein is based on all psychology research on PMS produced in the greater Vancouver area during the 1980s and 1990s. The knowledge that has been constructed about PMS through social sciences research also contributes to a common narrative about gender. This narrative holds that femininity and masculinity are not only linked to concepts of biological sex but also to concepts of culture that are heavily influenced by power relationships. The research examined here contributes to this narrative by challenging traditional theories about women's nature and by implementing research methods that add to our understanding of the way that cultural values influence research and knowledge production. The image of women as passive victims of "that time of the month" has been called into question by an image o f women that takes society and culture into account when explaining "women's nature."

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