Faith Ringgold, Woman Looking in a MirrorHeart has posted a great article on menopause:

“The biggest and most important — and best kept secret, it seems to me — is that post-menopausal life is GREAT! It’s the BEST! In so, so, so many ways, it’s a revelation, a time of new beginnings, deepening strength, greater vision, a new and greater capacity to connect and make sense of things, much greater self-awareness, and, for women, importantly, a greater determination to act out of one’s own beliefs and views, as well as out of one’s own self-interest, without feelings of wanting to please people or put them at ease, make them comfortable at one’s own expense. There is also a deepening of compassion and empathy, or there has been for me, without any accompanying difficult-to-handle emotional anguish or upsets of the kind which drained my energy and confused me when I was younger. Why don’t we hear about these very positive aspects of this dreaded “change”? They are not unusual. I have never taken a single dose of “hormones” or “hormone replacement therapy” and I never will. Neither did or will my mother, and she’s doing great. Same with my grandmothers.

Male heterosupremacy LIES about menopause like it lies about few other phenomenon– and that’s saying something, given how much male heterosupremacy lies about almost everything! I love it that feminist women are rising up and naming the lies for what they are. No woman should grow up as we did, fearing this dreaded “change” that amounts to nothing at all — so long as a woman stays the hell away from doctors as much as she can.”

Personally, I am nowhere near menopause and don’t have many personal friends who are near or through it. So I don’ t have much of a clue about what the menopause is like, but still I could instantly relate to what Heart was saying – because it is just the kind of thing that I often say about singledom. (For example – see here.)

In fact my first thought was that you could say exactly the same things about singledom:

“The biggest and most important — and best kept secret, it seems to me — is that post-menopausal single life is GREAT! It’s the BEST! In so, so, so many ways, it’s a revelation, a time of new beginnings, deepening strength, greater vision, a new and greater capacity to connect and make sense of things, much greater self-awareness, and, for women, importantly, a greater determination to act out of one’s own beliefs and views, as well as out of one’s own self-interest, without feelings of wanting to please people or put them at ease, make them comfortable at one’s own expense. There is also a deepening of compassion and empathy, or there has been for me, without any accompanying difficult-to-handle emotional anguish or upsets of the kind which drained my energy and confused me when I was younger in relationships. Why don’t we hear about these very positive aspects of this dreaded “change” being “on your own”? They are not unusual…

Male heterosupremacy LIES about menopause singledom like it lies about few other phenomenon– and that’s saying something, given how much male heterosupremacy lies about almost everything! I love it that feminist women are rising up and naming the lies for what they are. No woman should grow up as we did, fearing this dreaded “change” the single life…”

Of course, my first thought was in fact wrong.

Because you do see images and hear stories, albeit few and far between, of strong independent happy single women. Yet Heart’s post was the first thing that I ever saw that talked about menopause as anything other than a change to be got through and dealt with. Her post was the first thing that I ever saw that talked about “after the menopause” in a way that shows post-menopausal womanhood to be not just bearable but rich and powerful.

But just because the one case may be more lied-about than the other, does not mean that there are not parallels. I think that the same attitudes underpin both lies, the lie of loneliness and the lie of HRT.

In heterosupremacy, the ability to reproduce the (male) line – or, preferably, evidence of having already reproduced, ideally combined with evidence of submission to / allegiance with the semen donor – is the one thing women have which is acknowledged to have value.

Thus, single women are bad because they are not reproducing. They can be forgiven only if they show that they are genuinely trying to get a man, that they want babies – or at least they must concede that they are single because they are in some way damaged or defective. Proudly, happily SINGLE women are unacceptable, because they seem to revel in their status instead of pining for a man – and getting busy in the quest for Mr Right.

Thus, post-menopausal are bad because not only are they failing to reproduce they are completely unable to reproduce. They are past it, and no fertitlity”treatment” is going to make them any better. They can be forgiven only if they show that they regret their fertility, and concede that their “condition” is the heavy price of unwelcome aging. Proudly, happily OLD women are unacceptable, because they revel in who they are instead of pining for their lost youth – and taking replacement hormones to recover it.

Thank you, Heart. I can’t say that I was “dreading” the change before now, because it is so far in the future for me that it wasn’t even on my radar. But I might have done, were it not for your post and for other women (such as Germaine Greer and Sandra Coney) who, like you, speak out about being a proudly, happily post-menopausal woman.

[Pictured: Woman Looking in a Mirror, by Faith Ringgold – who, incidentally, has an interesting section on her website about a completely different kind of change…]

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