My Complaint About Portnoy

You may recall that I wasn't exactly enamoured of Alex Portnoy upon reading his Complaint.

I should've written this post earlier, because I'm now at sufficient remove from the book that I feel less bitter about the following excerpt, from pages 43 to 44:
It was years later that she called from the bathroom, Run to the drugstore! bring a box of Kotex! immediately! And the panic in her voice. Did I run! And then at home again, breathlessly handed the box to the white fingers that extended themselves at me through a narrow crack in the bathroom door... Though her menstrual troubles eventually had to be resolved by surgery, it is difficult nevertheless to forgive her for having sent me on that mission of mercy. Better she should have bled herself out on our cold bathroom floor, better that, than to have sent an eleven-year-old boy in hot pursuit of sanitary napkins! Where was my sister, for Christ's sake? Where was her own emergency supply? Why was this woman so grossly insensitive to the vulnerability of her own little boy—on the one hand so insensitive to my shame, and yet on the other, so attuned to my deepest desires!
Rereading it now, it seems to illustrate Alex Portnoy's total lack of consideration for his mother as a human being. I can't exactly remember the context that it was situated in, besides the fact that the entire novel is just Portnoy whining.

Removed from its context within the novel, though, the sentiment expressed above is one that disgusts me, and I think that's why I had to pull it out into a post of its own. I am not a member of the "period blood is art" school of thought in any way, shape, or form. Menstrual blood is one of the body's many waste products and therefore it's nothing to be ashamed of but also it is private. I have no doubt that it would be awkward for a young boy to have to go buy sanitary napkins for his mother, but here's a thought: get over it. You'd think that men might've gotten used to women's menstrual cycles by now after observing their effects throughout all of human history.

(Anyway, lesson learned that I need to write my rants while the memory of the book is still fresh.)

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