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Menopause: Just Say "No!"
May 28, 2002
by Irene ...my last name is none of your business!

My husband and I plan to die together at the age of ninety-three in a tragic water-skiing accident. He takes the edge off aging. Nothing helps with menopause.

I blame Jane Fonda. Menopause used to be the point at which we were allowed to "give up," and add a little ballast to our hips. Jane's next exercise video is rumored to be "Another Way to Break a Sweat during Menopause." Someone ought to tell Barbarella that she is approaching 70. Can't we all stop exercising now? I'm even willing to forget about Hanoi.

Of course, Germaine Greer -- whose name is an anagram for "emerge angrier" -- doesn't help. Her book The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause urges me to reassess "this life changing experience." Let's see...under "Major Threats," the site Menopause On-Line links to Alzheimer's and Colorectal Cancer. What's left to assess?

I refuse to view menopause as another challenge. As yet another goddamned rewarding rite of passage. I am tired of hearing feminists like Greer and Gail Sheehy (The Silent Passage: Menopause) place their incontinence in a political context. Menopause is not the loss of oppression, it is the loss of bladder control. If asked about menopause, I intend to take the same tack I did in writing my one and only autobiography -- it consisted of one paragraph. "I was born. I live. I will die. Now mind your own damned business!"

Technically, I am pre-menopausal. This means, I get to keep menstruating while my hormones prepare to storm the Bastille. I get to have pimples and gray hair. And yet I cling to pre-paus'ing. I don't care for the so-called advantages of menopause, e.g., memory loss will allow me to read the same book twice with suspense. And I won't feel compensated by seeing the fear in my husband's eyes every time he asks, "How is your day going?"

For those boomers who have a better attitude toward menopause, there is good news. The three of you can benefit from the glut of information offered to our notoriously self-involved generation. There is "holistic menopause," "menopause as social liberation," "boomer menopause"... There is even a site on "birthing the Crone," which boasts gorgeous paintings to memorialize phases of menopause, such as hot flashes.

Even a dissident like me can "pauz" in a niche. I am currently printing out copies of the on-line cartoon Minnie Pauz, especially the one in which she celebrates "the dreaded passage from diapers to [tampax] wings to designer Depends." And, when I want a good read, I grab Women Who Run With Poodles: Myths and Tips for Honoring Your Mood Swings. I flip straight to the section on "Reclaiming Your Sacred Inner Bitch."

They tell me columns should end on a bright note. This is it... I no longer regret my youthful experiments with recreational substances. I'm told they will give context to the depths of menopause.

I'm done now...Go get a life!

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