Menopause: A Biocultural Perspective

By Lynnette Leidy Sievert | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Methods of Study

Itayme Sālem … separated her husband from her bed when he took a sec-
ond wife. Alya told us about her. … She said to him: I excuse thee con-
cerning the bed and may thy bed be separated from me! Here thou hast
one who is fruitful and will bear thee children. I have no longer menstrua-
tion and cannot bear either a girl or a boy. I have eaten my share of thee
and thou hast eaten thy share of me. Set me free [as if she were a slave]
before God's face. I have eaten my fruit and my legs are now crooked.

H. N. Granqvist, Marriage Conditions in a Palestinian Village (1935)

After violent storms there will follow a time of intense heat and drought.
They say that this is what can be expected of women who are in the
stage of life when they cannot bear any more children. “They look back at
what was, seeing their sons and their daughters growing up. then
they remember the pains when giving birth and also the sweetness of the
children. They remember this and desire very much to give birth again. The
heat in them becomes fearful. But their striving for children does not help.
The time is past. So it is with this thunder which we say is like women. We
say that it is like a woman because it makes much noise and shows great
heat, but it brings no rain.”

A.-I. Berglund, Zulu Thought-Patterns and Symbolism (1976)

As the first epigraph indicates, the topic of menopause is not new to anthropology. Hilma Granqvist carried out fieldwork for her ethnography Marriage Conditions in a Palestinian Village (1935) from 1925 to 1927. She described this work as an “excavation of all the customs, habits and ways of thinking” in that one village (Granqvist 1931:4). Since the early twentieth century, cultural or social anthropologists have gathered information on the topic of menopause as part of their ethnographic studies of non-Western peoples.

A perusal of data organized within the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) demonstrates that early observers of menopause (Cohen 1952; Gladwin and Sarason 1953; Junod 1927; Morris 1938) were primarily interested in whether

-49-

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Menopause: A Biocultural Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - The Biological Basis of Menopause 32
  • Chapter Three - Methods of Study 49
  • Chapter Four - Age at Menopause 82
  • Chapter Five - The Discomforts of Menopause 111
  • Chapter Six - Hot Flashes 127
  • Chapter Seven - Conclusions and Future Directions 162
  • Notes 171
  • References 177
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 221
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