Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan & North America // Review
Lock, Margaret, Anthropologica
Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America Margaret Lock Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. xiiv + 439 pp. $38.00 (cloth) Reviewer: Nanciellen Davis Mount Saint Vincent University
This book will be essential reading for many audiences. Lock grapples with issues central to anthropology, including the relationship between biology and culture, and that between individual experience and cultural expectation. She does this through the study of a portion of the life cycle, the mid-life period of transition (konenki), as understood by Japanese women and health professionals. She compares her Japanese findings with those from surveys on menopause conducted with women in Massachusetts and Manitoba. The analysis is presented within a larger discussion of the ideological representation of women's bodies and lives.
The material collected in Japan, where Lock has conducted periodic research over 20 years, includes interviews with middle-aged women in more than 100 households. These narratives reveal much about women's experiences at mid-life. For example, the event of final menstruation is of relatively little significance to them. Social roles, such as rearing children and caring for elderly mothers- and fathers-in-law, are of more concern than the change in their reproductive status. Questionnaires completed by over 1000 Japanese women, and comparisons drawn from the Massachusetts and Manitoba studies, suggest that menopause is not experienced in the same way by women in Japan and North America. …