Monday, 16 May 2022

The me-me-me-nopause


There seems to be no pause whatsoever in the media’s current obsession with menopause. The unstoppable flow of articles from female journalists of a certain age, with their intent on playing a sort of symptom Top Trumps are bad enough. And now there’s a hot flush of “taboo-breaking” ads each trying to out-do the next in terms of “reflecting authentic experiences”, smashing stigmas and general mawkishness.

“Our many, varied experiences are brushed under the carpet by shame and indifference” boldly proclaims one agency representative responsible for these ads. An unfortunate choice of metaphor, possibly, when describing “occasional pelvic floor betrayals (sic)”.

“We hope this campaign can reinject humanity and beauty into the life stage, subvert damaging and demeaning stereotypes and help women feel better supported and less alone. We also hope it’ll inspire people to talk to their own loved ones about the menopause — we all know someone going through it, yet we so rarely talk about it. It’s no wonder one in three feel alone during the menopause” gushes another. Does Pseuds Corner still exist? Talk about a high horse!

Now, I know some women have a hard time during the menopause, but I do find this “suffering victim narrative patronising and insulting. Not much better is the shock tactic approach employed by the brand Elvie - not directly about menopause, but certainly confronting one of the symptoms. Im glad I didnt have to walk past this billboard with a few small children in tow.

Why does a normal, natural phase in life have to be obsessed over in this way? My own feeling is that this could backfire and do women more harm than good. It brings out the very worst in the loud and narcissistic look-at-poor-me brigade.

And the cynical part of me thinks back to a whole category of feminine hygiene products that was introduced round about the time I was growing up - panty liners. Are these environmentally-unfriendly products really necessary for the majority of women? Probably not - yet they were marketed as a hygiene essential - the clue is in the name Alldays

Both Tena and Elvie have products to sell to help prevent or deal with urinary incontinence. How much of the normalisation is geared to getting new users, who could probably cope perfectly well without them, to buy these? Hunger for growth wrapped up in a saving hu(wo)manity script - it would be nice to just press the (meno)pause button on all this.

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