The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

To change the meanings and norms of "woman," to include the rambling and unfettered spaces of the female flesh, to allow for female lifelong dignity and power, and to honor the increasing wisdom of older women with political access -- and all of this regardless of race or class -- would significantly alter the landscapes of our body politic. This requires radical changes in the meanings of menopause and a complete deconstruction of "the monolithic menopausal body" and the negativity of "the menopausal corridor." To deconstruct the meanings of menopause in a male gerontocracy is to construct a social and cultural space for the empowerment of crones. The matter of words in this political project is indeed part of all the matter needed for this rearrangement of flesh and meaning. My hope is that more powerful and unruly women will emerge from this conceiving -- old, wise, and furiously heretical.


Notes
1.
After completing this essay, I had an opportunity to read Geri Dickson's "Metaphors of Menopause: The Metalanguage of Menopause Research." I was pleased to find that our approaches to the bio-cultural aspects of menopause are very similar. However, my insistence on a feminist approach, which I do not see as ontologically essentialist as Dickson does, marks our difference. I concur with Diana Fuss, who argued that it is possible to use essentialist language for pragmatic and political ends or for strategic and interventionary values without becoming reactionary or metaphysically overloaded. Unlike Dickson, I shy away from the postmodernism of Lyotard because of a need to stay close to a materialist analysis of the social relations between the sexes. For my in-progress critiques of postmodernism, see Zita ( 1988 and 1992).

References

Bart, P. B. 1972. "Depression in Middle Aged Women". Women in Sexist Society. Ed. V. Gornick and B. K. Moran. New York: New American Library, 163-86.

Beyene, Yewoubdar. 1986. "Cultural Significance and Physiological Manifestations of Menopause: A Biocultural Analysis". Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 10:46-71.

Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routtedge.

Clay, Vidal. 1977. Women: Menopause and Middle Age. Pittsburgh: KNOW.

Cohen, L. 1984. Small Expectations: Society's Betrayal of Older Women. Toronto: McClellan and Stewart.

Copper, Baba. 1988. Over the Hill. New York: Crossing.

Davis, Dona Lee. 1986. "The Meaning of Menopause in a Newfoundland Fishing Village". Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 10:73-94.

Dickson, Geri. 1990. "The Metalanguage of Menopause Research". IMAGE: Journal of Nursing Scholarship 22.3:168-73.

_____. 1993. "Metaphors of Menopause: The Metalanguage of Menopause Research". Menopause: A Midlife Passage. Ed. J. C. Callahan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 36-58.

Doress, E, and D. Siegal. 1987. Ourselves Growing Older. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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