I was attempting to get this article written before Sunday’s fundraising Memory Walk and Jog…
A sequel to ‘How a HerCanberra Article Landed me on SBS Insight discussing menopause’…
Being a sequel, let’s start with a recap. At 48 I decided I would write a book. It was impressed upon me at a writer’s course that I should also have smaller pieces published to one day wow a book publisher with my amazing body of work. So, I took compromising photos of the HerCanberra team and have blackmailed them since to print my articles—simples!
My first article, Perimenopause: Buckle Up Girls, opened a door that has led me to become a spokesperson on the taboos of menopause on SBS Insight, ABC Radio, and most recently in the iconic The Australian Women’s Weekly—in case you are wondering this is not a how-to guide for writing a novel.
In its June 2021 issue, this magazine read by my family for three generations is asking the same question that I’ve been asking for six years—Why are women so lacking in knowledge about menopause, and not talking about it?
At a recent launch I attended for the #GetOnTheCouch campaign, sponsored by Dr. Wolff’s Vagisan in cooperation with The Australian Women’s Weekly, feminist, and social commentator Jane Caro AM said, “I remember feeling outraged thinking why didn’t anyone tell me about this.” I hear ya, sister!
Ladies, you are not Robinson Crusoe when it comes to not knowing what the frick-frack-snickety-snack is going on with you! Let me catch you up and break down what has taken me six years to realise.
Go to any museum in the world and you are bound to find depictions of fertility, sex, and birth. Society has a long history of obsession with puberty and pregnancy, but dry vaginas and female facial hair—not so much.
Just 200 years ago our life expectancy was 40. Women-kind don’t have a long history of menopause. Most of us would have dropped off the perch before we started to overheat, and those that made it through may have been locked up with ‘hysteria’.
In the early 1900s right up until the mid-’60s married women could not be employed by the public service as they were expected to stay home and look after their families. This would have made removing items of clothing in the throes of a hot flush easier granted, but as one of Australia’s largest employers, it did little to progress any chance we had of workplaces accommodating our midlife needs.
In the 1930s, menopause was known as a deficiency disease. Fair call, given your hormones are depleting. It wasn’t until the 1970s that an International Menopause Society was established. There was no language or comprehensive research for my grandmother to be able to articulate what her body was experiencing, any wonder she never spoke to my mother about ‘the change’.
Fast-forward to today, and our schools teach kids about their changing bodies with a strong emphasis on how not to get knocked up. Our medical systems have a plethora of fertility specialists, anti-natal classes, and clinics with a strong emphasis on how to get knocked up.
When it comes to menopause, however, most medical professionals would have gotten their qualifications without having ever done a specific unit of study on a topic that 50% of the population are going to go through.
Today, women will protest taxes dressed as giant tampons and breastfeed in parliament. An AFLW coach will use an App to hack a player’s menstrual cycle to optimise her training.
Yet, middle-aged women are calling ambulances with heart palpitations, and being sent home with their physicians scratching their heads for an explanation. It goes without saying you want to rule out anything nasty, but once that is established it borders on medical gaslighting to send her home thinking she is crazy, without discussing her hormones.
What’s it going to take? An AFLW over 45s comp to have society pay attention? Not quite sure how we’d market it and draw in sponsors, but I’m sure you get my point.
In the meantime, it is up to us ladies. If we don’t start by talking about menopause to each other, how can we expect society to pay attention? Next time you are sitting with family and friends, broach the topic of menopause.
Take a pic of your crew and post it on your social media with #GetOnTheCouch and #BreakTheTaboo. Simples!
If you are interested in the article, Jo’s interview appears in the June issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly and the social awareness campaign can be found at www.breakthetaboo.com.au
You may also be interested in, How a HerCanberra Article Landed me on SBS Insight discussing menopause