The menstruating entrepreneur kickstarting a new politics of women's health

Sarah Ng, Shaowen Bardzell, Jeffrey Bardzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This article addresses itself to two developments in recent HCI research. One is the rising emphasis on women's health, a topic that is often seen as at least partly political. The other development in HCI research is the ongoing interest in supporting democracy and political activism. We present the case of a menstrual cup design project in Taiwan, called the Formoonsa Cup, whose product development led to the change in the legal status of menstrual cups and forcefully challenged a traditional value of hymen maintenance as an expression of "pure"and morally upright womanhood. We argue that this project is significant to HCI research for the following two reasons: first, because the design project is a successful, if complicated, case of political activism, and second, because the design and legalization processes were in part mediated by platform technologies, including social networking, crowdfunding, and direct democracy platforms. Using philosopher Michel Foucault's notion of "subjugated knowledge,"we analyze the case to improve understandings of how design can engage in emancipatory politics in the domain of women's health in HCI. In this case study, we begin with the idea that women's freedom of self-care is the knowledge that is subjugated, though by the end we suggest that subjugated knowledge is a more complex, and troubling, category than this initial evaluation suggests. We also argue that design can critique and intervene when it materializes previously subjugated knowledges and renders them both socially intelligible and politically efficacious.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3397158
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human-Computer Interaction


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