i'm late... a lot late. a decade ago, this would have sent me frantic to the drug store, to my calendar, to a midwife. not any longer, though... i learned from watching Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie what happens to "women of a certain age" and how silly or pathetic they can look, grappling with the what-if of an unexpected pregnancy when in reality, being so late is but the harbinger of something that's entirely to be expected.
i started reading up about menopause in my thirties. one of the first things that struck me was that the condition was... and still is, as far as i can tell... viewed generally as something pathological that throws the body into a state of disequilbrium. needless to say, this is a point of view i wholly, thoroughly and with every cell of my body and ounce of energy i can summon, reject.
menopause, i decided, like childbirth, is a natural process honed by billions of years of evolution. i refuse to see any of my body's natural processes as pathological. i made it through four childbirths without so much as a stick to bite on, because i believed all i really had to do was get out of my own way and let my body handle birthing by itself. the more i read the books and pondered what was being offered as wisdom, the more disturbed i became. no where, i think, is the insidious anti-feminine sentiment that runs all through our culture more obvious than in what we allow ourselves to be told about menopause.
let's take a recent new york times article that appeared - ironically enough - on my birthday, reporting on how menopause affects a woman's sex drive. according to the article, 47% of women studied in this particular sample experienced a drop in sexual desire. wow, that's a lot of numb women, i thought on first read. or is it, i wondered upon further reflection. maybe it's just a lot of women frustrated by a lot of insensitive or impotent men. or maybe there're a lot of women like me, who make love at least once or twice a day and thus don't feel anything close to the level of desire i, for example, felt in my 20's when i was married to an idiot who "punished" me by withholding sex. so is that a rise in desire? or a fall?
as far as i was concerned, the one truly useful bit of information was buried in a paragraph toward the end and it was a mere one sentence that basically said this: women who have a lot of sex, tend to have fewer problems sexually as they age. but our culture is terrified of women's sexuality in general, and older women who can't get pregnant might be even more terrifying if they start speaking out, not just about what satisfies them in bed, but in the world in general.
and oh, what a difference place that might be.
and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.