Cultural Gender Issues
Back to Menopause Resource
Cultural gender issues
Differences between men and women, their cultural
roles, and how culture affects women's experience of menopause.
"The middle-aged woman no longer has the option of fulfilling
the demands of patriarchal society. She can no longer play the
obedient daughter, the pneumatic sex object or the madonna. Unless
she consents to enter into the expensive, time-consuming and utterly
futile business of denying that she has passed her sell-by date,
she has sooner or later to register the fact that she has been
junked by consumer culture." (The
Change by Germaine Greer)
It is important to note that the societal bias is as much at
play in menopause as any biochemical process. In fact, this bias
may be influencing biochemistry. Several anthropological studies
suggest that the experience of menopause is indeed culture-specific.
Generally speaking, men and women develop on almost opposite
tracks with regard to their relationship with self, family and
the world. The earlier part of a woman's development is more focused
on the internal emotional processes, the development of relationship
with self, intimates and the creation of family. The development
of relationship to the community at large, the world, achievement
and power comes at mid-life and thereafter.
Women have more female hormones earlier in life. As they age,
these hormones are reduced, leaving androgen (male) hormones.
Conversely men tend to be focused outward to community, achievement
and their relationship with the world in the early part of life.
At mid-life they tend to look inward, toward self, intimates and
We have to consider in treating the menopausal woman just whom
are we treating. Are we aiding the woman in her individuation
process, helping her to experience herself in a more external,
achievement orientation, or are we inhibiting this natural process,
keeping her biologically (and thereby influencing her psychologically
to stay) bound to hearth and home? Is Hormone Replacement Therapy
more a treatment for the patriarchy who may be uncomfortable with
this more outward, "masculine" move of women which is
occurring precisely at the same time the man is making his own
uncomfortable move inward?
It is important for practitioners to remember that while we cannot
escape our cultural bias, but we can be more conscious of the
particularities of that bias.
to Menopause Resource