Mr. Garrison teaches ‘periods’

Article by Period! /
June 28, 2016 /
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‘I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.’ A classic one-liner and, of course, the slogan of Period! Magazine. Many people have said it, but it sounds best when coming from South Park’s Mr. Garrison’s mouth.

There’s actually an entire biography of him on Wikipedia: Herbert Garrison, better known as Mr. Garrison. The sad third-grade teacher of South Park Elementary school, accompanied by his puppet Mr. Hat, is every parent’s worst nightmare.

The first episode of South Part came out in 1997. Currently, the American adult animated sitcom, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is on its nineteenth season. No subject is off limits on the show famous for its crude language and dark satiric humour. The dialogue below, from the movie South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999), is even a bit docile. For South Park at least.

‘Your moms are probably on their periods right now, or something.’ – ‘Mr. Garrison! Wendy and I think that’s a sexist statement!’ ‘Well, I’m sorry Wendy, but I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.’

Mr. Garrison isn’t the only one who doesn’t trust anything that bleeds five days in a row and is still alive. Keith (Michael Rooker) in Keys To Tulsa (1996) had the same idea. Chad (Aaron Eckhart) in In The Company Of Men (1997) allowed two days more; he suggested ‘Never trust anything that can bleed for a week and not die.’ The origin of this quote is unknown. Although there are cultures that regard this female ability to bleed without getting killed as something enviable, like super-powers, most Western cultures consider it very suspicious.

In chapter three of the book ‘Periods in Pop Culture: Menstruation in Film and Television’, author Lauren Rosewarne examines the concept of the curse of menstruation and how this is manifested on screen. She states that ‘each variation of this quote boasts the same misogynist undercurrent rendering the menstruator as abject and presenting menstruation as something not only abhorrent but potentially non-human’. Basically: the saying presents periods in a negative way; by suggesting menstruating women are evil and can’t be trusted. A bit like zombies, they can also bleed without dying.