How many of you read The New York Times article What if Menopause Wasn’t Dreaded?
It was an opinion piece on Sept 12, 2019 by University of Georgia distinguished research professor Susan Mattern.
In it, she shares a history of menopause and takes us back to a time when it was named. She writes, “The word ‘menopause’ itself was coined by a French physician in 1821; by then, there were colloquial expressions for it in Europe, such as ‘women’s hell.’”
She plants a notion in readers’ minds that society sort of created the bad energy that menopause is associated with.
In the article she states, “This bleak view of menopause is unique to modernized cultures. In cultures with minimal exposure to modernization — few of which survive today — the idea that the end of a woman’s reproductive years will be accompanied by a collection of unpleasant symptoms (what physicians sometimes call ‘menopausal syndrome’) is hard to find. Hmong immigrants to Australia, for example, when questioned by researchers in the 1990s, were surprised to learn that white Australian women thought that menopause caused physical symptoms and problems.”
How profound. If we didn’t have awareness that menopause was a bad thing, would we even think that it was when it arrived? Or dread its natural cycle in our bodies?
There’s a fair amount of you reading this article who would loudly answer my question with a definite NO.
The symptoms are real. In fact, today I heard from a woman who told me every time she gets up on stage, she gets a hot flash. Another mentioned in a quiet voice that she now knows what other women mean when they say they “can’t control their anger.”
I, for one, believe menopause is very real. But I also believe that the social picture that’s been painted since the 1800s in modern cultures has unfairly flavored its role in our lives as women.
I wish we could reverse that. I wish we could see the transition in life through menopause as a preparation for the second half of life. And if we treat it with the care it deserves, our bodies, hearts and minds will be ready to lead our families, local communities, companies and organizations with only the wisdom that time on this planet can bring.
My wish is that when women (and men) think of menopause, they consider it the moment when women are preparing to “arrive.”
“I’ve arrived and I want everyone to know it” is the bumper sticker I’d like to print for all menopausal women.
Is this too far-fetched to even wish for? I believe we can start working to make this ginormous shift. You with me?
I’m encouraged by Professor Mattern’s view on menopause, because it’s not like we’re inventing anything new. We’re just making the old cool again.