From summer camp woes to blissful recognitions of womanhood, this feature on menstruation explores what it's really like to "become a woman."
Arielle Adams is a producer with Blunt Youth Radio, in Portland, ME.
Hear more from the Blunt Youth Radio Project.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Arielle Adams
How and when did you become involved with Blunt Youth Radio?
I became involved with Blunt about three years ago. My friend invited me to one of the recruitment meetings and having nothing better to do, I went. At first I was intimidated by the whole thing, but as I began to be trained in hosting and reporting, I knew that I had found something I loved.
What do you like best about using audio to tell stories, rather than video or illustrations?
What I love the most about audio is that you are able to use your imagination. Characters and settings aren't just there for you to see -- you have to create them. This gives me a challenge, because I have to use sound, tape and my own voice so the listener will see exactly what I want them to.
What inspired your decision to document your and your friends' first menstruation stories?
I was with Blunt in San Francisco attending a national radio conference and a bunch of us girls were just hanging around in our room chatting. It turned out that nearly half of us were on our periods and this unusual coincidence began a conversation spanning this, that and all that other girl stuff. It was a wonderful discussion, and about midway through, I realized what great radio it would have made -- all of us telling our first period stories so openly. When I got home I immediately started to get tape.
Were the girls you approached always so forthcoming, or did some tell you it was too private a thing to share?
Actually about 75 percent of the girls I spoke to were willing to share their stories. This really surprised me, because I thought I might have to push real hard for girls to open up and at least talk to me.
I think all of the girls who refused probably thought their story would have been too boring -- or maybe they were just uncomfortable.
Do you think the girls you interviewed would have told their stories to a video camera as willingly?
Radio is wonderful because you can tell your most personal story and still be anonymous. Having a bright and intense light in your face not only takes away from the personalness, but it creates this self-consciousness that was never there in the first place. I think girls were so open and honest because microphones are much more comfortable than a flashing red light.
How have people reacted to this story overall? Do you think age has been a factor in listeners' responses? What do your male peers think?
Most of the reactions I've gotten from people have been positive ones. I think at first people are a little weary, but once they hear the feature they loosen up and really enjoy all of the stories. The greatest thing about this piece is that it's completely age friendly. Every women has had their first period, so hopefully this feature makes them think back to that time in their lives. As far as the male perspective goes, most guys have enjoyed the piece and I just shrug off those who have said negative things, because I know deep inside they secretly wished they had a first period story to tell too.
Are you considering any sort of follow-up? What are you working on now?
I would love to do a whole series about the menstrual cycle, from young girls' expectations to their first period, to pregnancy and menopause. I think often times women are afraid or intimidated to talk about their bodies or what goes on "down there." I want to break that barrier with this piece or any feature I do in the future. I want women to talk about what they want when they want and not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their bodies. Hopefully after hearing my piece, women will begin to think about the gender issues, stereotypes, double standards and pressures that are still in place within our world today -- and maybe they'll get a few laughs too.
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