Ready for a reality check? Of these news that we know exist, but we love to ignore? We are in 2020 – 20% of the 21st century has passed – and menopause continues to be perceived, in most cases, as it was at the time of our grandmothers. Want an example? When we search for the word menopause on the Internet, the stereotype of the last century continues to appear: wrinkles, white hair, women probably over 60 (technically post-menopause).
And that respond to a time when life expectancy was very different: we had not achieved most of our rights as a gender (there is still a long way to go, but it would be naive to believe that we have not progressed). However, in relation to menopause, everything remains quite the same.
Let’s start with the word. We would not be the first to remember the power of the word to build, destroy, make visible or invisible. And what does this have to do with Menopause? All! Because when we talk about it, we are reducing an entire stage called Climaterium to a single day of our lives. Menopause is just the date of our last period (we only know 12 months after it happened).
Climacteric is a process that lasts about 10 years and includes pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause and the first post-menopause years. Surprised? So do we. For our ignorance. We didn’t know that either before we started No Pausa, our multiplatform network to talk about Climacteric.
In the 21st century, and with an increasing trend in the premature appearance of perimenopause, we are concerned about the strength of stereotypes linked to this stage. “A menopause in 2020” is like nothing and everything at the same time: there are as many menopause as bodies that stop menstruating. This means that it is a stage that can reach us at different times and situations in life: with small children, without them, as a couple, without a partner, assuming a new sexual orientation, in hierarchical positions, having stopped working, at 40, 45 , 50 years old or even, having decided to undergo replacement therapy to modify the gender.
The scenarios are multiple and it would be impossible to talk about everyone. It is only by looking at all these possible realities that we realize that each person will go through this from very different places.
Without trying to generalize, we could represent them in two big graphs: for some, it will be nothing more than the loss of menstruation – in some cases even relief – in a moment of self-realization, intellectual and emotional maturity (several studies show that between Aos 45 and 55 we reach the peak of our intellectual maturity).
For others, it can happen at a time when insecurity, fear and frustrations prevail. In this case, the climacteric more than a process, will look like a threat. That destabilizes, that makes invisible.
But regardless of which “side” Climacteric finds us, there are two things we will have in common. Firstly, it is likely that we will reach this stage without having the necessary information to go through it with tranquility, knowing what happens (it is a moment of great changes in the body as it was when we started menstruating), the alternatives and without leaving to be who we are.
Second, the “erroneously called menopause” will be fueled by the taboo that accompanies it. And we come back to the negative stereotypes that make this process a threat. “I’m less attractive”, “I’m dry”, “I hate this stage,” I wasn’t like that “,” it was the worst thing that happened to me “, are some common phrases that we hear in No Pausa. And, even worse, the threat is deepened by the look of the other: “she is irritated, certainly she is in menopause”.
They are sarcastic, derogatory and derogatory forms. They are stigmas that make us remain quiet and often feel that we are invisible. They are obstacles to the search for information, which is the only tool that helps us to decide, accept and adapt to changes.
Everything related to the female menstrual cycle was – and remains – full of silences, taboos, myths and prejudices.
Like the first menstruation in adolescence, the climacteric (or menopause, “wrongly”) remains the most invisible phase of our life. It is not commented on, although everyone who has ever menstruated – sooner or later – will experience it. This invisibility continues to surprise us. We will be one billion in 2030, according to the WHO, and they still do not include us in public health policies …
And we are back to facing the “backpack” that is even more “heavy”: the cultural significance of this stage. As we said, our perceptions of menopause are linked to broader cultural meanings related to femininity and aging. People who are going through this period need to face negative gender stereotypes and we are still seen as “someone who has lost something”. We continue to have strong derogatory connotations that are linked to ideas of deficit, deterioration and old age.
From a cultural point of view, with the arrival of menopause the perception is often: “she is no longer attractive, she is no longer competitive and she has no sexual desire”. In the latter sense, it is closely related to the concept of “ageism” or cultural prejudice towards 45+ people of both sexes, including behaviors of rejection and feelings of dislike.
That two or three public people already comment on this step helps, but let us not be fooled: it is a long way.
We know that all of this has a “rancid” past, but we cannot leave 1/3 of our productive life – where we only lose reproduction – continue without being on the “agenda”.
In 2020, we took advantage of the 18th of October – International Menopause Day – and we invite you: #amosfalardemenopausa.
We count on you!