Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 15
MM experienced such severe period pain from the start of her periods, that menopause, despite it’s struggles, was a welcome relief when it appeared. Heavy menstrual bleeding causes extreme tiredness, but her maternal family had systems to cope with this.
Their family tradition was that men took over housework and chores at these times, so their women could rest. MM lost this support system when married into a family that had rigid gender roles.
Menopause would be the biggest struggle for MM. Because our medical system is wonderful with surgery, hormone treatment and procedures for women. But it doesn’t address the biggest health issue that women face – the lack of rest and support for women at home.
The changes in a woman’s body at menopause are hinted at in passing. With pity for the menopausal woman. But older women who got no support or good medical advice in their time, will shut you up if you ask questions, talk about how you feel or try to get advice.
And doctors, once they are done dispensing medical treatment, are not equipped with the ability to push the tremendous changes in attitudes, as well as the funding, that is needed to bring support for women’s health at home into mainstream medical care. MM learned all of this later.
One Important Fact About Femininity
There was one important fact, MM felt, that shapes female behaviour and sexuality. And that is, that femininity never comes without strings. Some biological. Some cultural. And some, the impact of a system guided by profit that, in MM’s personal opinion (based on experiences with her health and lifestyle changes that helped her) doesn’t test feminine products for their specific impact on the immune systems of women.
- Puberty comes with period pain.
- Marriage brings tiredness from bearing the full load of chores and following customs, gender roles, and traditions that create chores. And often makes eldercare a female gender role.
- Children come with the changes of pregnancy, delivery and the post-delivery. Change welcome, barring health complications, for women wanting children. But change all the same. And children mean childcare, that is for some families, mostly a woman’s job.
- Menopause, as we all know, takes away period pain and tiredness, and leaves women with bodies permanently changed. Changes that can be made comfortable with effort. Adjusted to and accommodated. But changes that, like a guest that is no longer welcome but won’t leave, are there to stay.
These strings can tie one up tight until there’s no space to have a normal life. Or they can be eased with support, care and understanding.
But, MM realized, that support, especially during menopause changes, is something women all over the world often don’t get from mainstream medicine. All they have sometimes, is Dr. Google, the books they find on menopause, and online support groups. And she felt this was not okay and wanted to talk about it, because she knew many women who were suffering and needed help.
Dr. Google had been MM’s friend for many years. She was sensible and used the internet with caution. Always cross-checking medical facts with qualified professionals. And home remedies with her mother who was experienced and had a LOT of experience nursing elderly family members who had needed full-time care for years.
MM knew what worked and what didn’t – for her own constitution. Everyone’s metabolism and genetics are different, so she was hesitant to recommend her remedies to others. Natural remedies, like all other remedies, can have medical effects as well as side-effects. And interact with medication. So each person needs to check all natural remedies with their doctors she felt, to be safe.
A Visit With Dr. Google
We visit the doctor once a year when we’re not feeling too good. Just to be sure all is clear. The doctor tells us to have some tests but we decide to try lifestyle changes and a little rest. We raid the kitchen on Grandma’s advice try home remedies and walk our way to a healthier life. It’s haldi for colds or for throat infections or raw garlic. It also works for high cholesterol. Jeera, saunf and some ajwain - all powdered a big spoonful of it followed by 2 glasses of water helps with digestion and a good night’s sleep and with mild allergies and when we’ve had too much to eat. And, lets not forget good old Dr. Google, Or Bob & Brad, and their tips on YouTube. Those are the places I went to for lifestyle advice and they eased minor back pain, and changed the quality of my daily life. Ginger for pain if there's no risk of bleeding or for a cold that won’t go away. And sometimes a steam inhalation. But it's different now, those were pre-covid days and it's not worth the risk as one must get proper medical treatment and be covid-safe. I’ll go to the doctor when I need to, or next year for a check-up. Qualified medical assistance beats the internet. On that, let's be clear.
Recommended reading: Unwell Woman (A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World) by Elinor Cleghorn. I’ve read a very interesting write-up on this book and have ordered it because the topic interests me.
I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.