In researching midlife and menopause, I discovered that this time in women’s lives has appeared “unimportant” to researchers.Midlife women are seen as an invisible cohort in academia.That may have had resonance in the past however, todays midlife women are forging new paths in their lives at 50.
In an effort to discern where this negative narrative emanates from and why the prominent discourse surrounding menopause has and continues to be predominantly negative. One has to look at historical and cultural narratives where women’s value was in procreation, once a woman reached 50 she became invisible and invaluable. Remnants of which still persists in our psyche even today!
It has also been noted that much of the research on women’s midlife experiences originated from a patriarchal system which had a stronghold in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. No historical research appears from a sociological or psychological viewpoint.
The good news is that Change is coming!!!!
In the last 5 years researchers possibly curious by the imbalance (all focus on the negatives) are calling for research looking at the positive impacts of midlife and menopause for women’s wellbeing (there are plenty of positives out there). Australian researchers point to societal perceptions of this phase in life as having an impact on how women in midlife are perceived. Women in Japan are revered in their 50’s as they are seen as knowledgeable, wise, insightful, educators on life. Politicians and broader society please take note!
I believe the time has come to challenge the status quo which perpetuates the myth for many that life is over after 50.Our mother s generation were old at 50,this is not true today.
We need to knock down the walls of silence, shame and secrecy surrounding menopause and allow women the opportunity and confidence to talk openly. Society needs to look upon this phase of life with a new lens. There is a huge correlation between belief systems and experiences. To challenge the present narratives women need to start by opening up the conversation, speak out and speak up, there is huge power in collaboration, and in sharing our stories.
The media,advertising and marketing agencies need to be tacitly and overtly challenged on their depictions of menopausal midlife women.
I envisage a time in the not too distant future when women can speak about their menopausal experiences and support one another as we do in pregnancy and childbirth. All in an effort to live longer, healthier,and happier lives.