The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

7
HERESY IN THE
FEMALE BODY
The Rhetorics of Menopause

Jacquelyn N. Zita

One woman I talked to said her doctor gave her two choices for treatment of her menopause: she could take estrogen and get cancer or she could not take it and have her bones dissolve.

-- Emily Martin

Sickness is rarely a plain event.

-- Susan Sontag

A new female body inhabits the West. This woman escapes estrus, lives longer, bleeds more, breeds less (if at all), refuses domestic asylum, and with age increasingly may become poor, expendable, and readily forgotten. She is a woman likely to live for more than a quarter of a century after menopause. Compared to a premodern foremother, whose reproductive life of five offspring in a hunting and gathering society was likely to involve four years of pregnancy, fifteen years of lactational amenorrhea, and four years of menstruation, a modern woman, who frequently carries two pregnancies to term with little or no breast-feeding,

-95-

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