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Dr. Breanne Fahs, Professor of Women and Gender Studies at ASU’s School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, was recently awarded
the Association for Psychology of Women 2017 Distinguished Publication Award for her book, “Out for Blood.
Dr. Fahs also works as a clinical psychologist and is founder and director of the Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality group at ASU. We spoke with Dr. Fahs about the award and how she hopes “Out for Blood” will not only help bring to light issues people have with their bodies, but will encourage people to embrace and overcome these issues in favor of body acceptance.
Question: What does receiving the 2017 Distinguished Publication Award mean to you?
Answer: This kind of recognition for a book that is about a subject often considered abject, impolite, shameful, or hidden (at best) is really exciting for me. Many of the topics I write about — particularly those that center on the body and sexuality — are marginalized within the academy so this award is extra meaningful in that regard. It's also wonderful to potentially get a wider readership for the book. As this book is both academic and quite personal, the award validates that this kind of work (non-traditional in its approach) matters to feminist psychologists.
Question: How will this award influence you in the future as a professor? As a feminist psychologist?
Answer: It inspires me to want to write more essays. I think people really find essays accessible in ways that more traditional academic writing often isn't, so it's a reminder of how to reach different audiences with more accessible styles and tones. I also want to continue working on issues of what I would call “bodies on the margins.” By that I mean bodies that are seen as "non-normative" (even when they are!). This work is a gateway to thinking more deeply about inequalities, social justice, and resistance more broadly.
Question: What inspired you to write your book, “Out for Blood?” In what ways do you feel your book will be able to positively influence women?
Answer: I have worked for years with a group of women who study menstruation and reproductive health/justice called the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. Working with them — especially Chris Bobel — truly inspired me to want to continue writing about menstruation. I also drew inspiration from my students here at ASU’s West campus, who have approached menstrual activism with such energy, vitality, and vigor when they design their own forms of menstrual resistance. Their menstrual activist work over the last six years has lit a fire in me about seeing menstruation as a site of resistance and revolt. In many ways, the book and my work with students draws heavily from the old feminist claim that "the personal is political." I'm still trying to imagine new ways to embody that idea in my work as a writer, teacher, and clinician. Ultimately, I hope the book continues to push menstruation out of the "menstrual closet" and remind people (menstruators and non-menstruators alike) that the body is a site of everyday resistance and that the mundane ways that we enact resistance matter.