Where Women Today Go Wrong!…(Cough!)

In light of the recent lively feminist debate (I’m not sure how a blog about the angst related to menopause turned to a feminist debate, but so be it) I found this on a new reader’s blog (The Journal) and wanted to share, because somehow it’s related. I’m not sure how, but I’m sure someone will write a manifesto and tell me-

THE EDITOR'S JOURNAL

poss sella

I have had this for sometime in my files…today it must be unleashed!

For clearer reading the full transcript is below:

This is an actual extract from a sex education text book for girls, printed in the early ’60’s in the UK and explains why the world was much happier and peaceful then…!

When retiring to the bedroom, prepare yourself for bed as promptly as possible. Whilst feminine hygiene is of the utmost importance, your tired husband does not want to queue for the bathroom as he would for his train. But remember to look you best when going to bed.

Try to achieve a look that is welcoming without being obvious. If you need to apply face-cream or hair rollers wait until he is asleep as this can be shocking to a man last thing at night. When it comes to the possibility of intimate relations with your husband…

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Feminists Unite! Or Bake a Pie

As a child who came of age in the 1960s and 70s during the feminist movement, I am a bit confused by the recent spate of anti-feminist rhetoric circulating on social media from young women. As I read all the FEMINIST=BAD signs online, I notice most of the protesters are decidedly NOT middle-aged or older. They weren’t around during the battleground years when women were just trying to get equal pay for equal work and trying to break into professions other than teaching and nursing. They weren’t around for the bra burning, and for some reason, the bra burning sticks in my mind. I recall at about age 8 or 9, sitting enthralled in front of our black and white TV while hundreds of woman threw their bras into bonfires. I thought that was the coolest thing I ever saw. Once I started wearing bras, I understood. To this day, I haven’t found a bra that I wouldn’t like to burn. But I digress.

Now on social media, you’ll find  “Women Against Feminism” and other pages with thousands of followers arguing all the reasons feminism is bad. Banners on these pages say things like, “HOUSEWORK RULES!” AND “SOMEONE HAS TO STAND UP FOR THE WOMEN WHO WANT KIDS AND LIKE COOKING!” I’m not exactly sure where I fall on the scale of feminism, but I’ve always considered myself a supporter of equal rights for women. If a woman wants to be a construction worker or doctor, she should have that opportunity, and she should get paid on the same scale as a man. If a woman doesn’t want to wear a bra, don’t wear a bra. But if you have big nipples or get cold, don’t expect people not to stare.

Even though I consider myself a feminist, I actually like to bake, and sometimes I find it relaxing to do housework. Sometimes – God forbid – I even take goodies to work! But now I’m told only anti-feminists do housework and bake. So does that make me an anti-feminist? If I admit I like to do my hair and wear make-up, does that make me anti-feminist? What does it even mean, in 2014, to be a feminist?

I notice a lot of the anti-feminist rants are by women who say they refuse to hate men, the argument being that feminists do hate men. I doubt most feminists hate men. I’m married to a man, and I only hate him when he’s an asswipe, otherwise, he’s okay, but “hate” is really too strong a word for that. Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any man I can say I actually hate. I’m not sure how feminism became linked with being a man-hater, but I’m not sure how burning bras makes you a feminist either.

The flip side of this issue is women who feel they have to prove, on a daily basis, they are a feminist. They do this, for one, by repeatedly reminding people that they are, by gosh, a FEMINIST! Any feminist who has to tell people she is indeed a feminist, is, in my opinion, not a real feminist. I’m not sure exactly what a “real” feminist is, but by contrast, if you have to tell people you are, for example, intelligent, you obviously have some confidence issues with your intelligence.  If you have to publicly announce you are gorgeous, well, you’re just conceited. But maybe you also have some self-esteem issues. So if you are telling me you are a feminist, my middle-aged cynical nature will automatically reason you’re a fraud.

Really, I think perhaps the feminist vs anti-feminist debate is a bit misguided. It’s not about being a feminist; it’s about having the same choices men do.  It’s about equal pay for equal work. Today, because of the feminist movement, I have the choice to be a stay-at-home mother or a construction worker alongside a man. I have the choice, like a man,  to be the President or First Lady. I have the choice to bake a pie or mow the lawn. I have the choice to take sex-enhancing drugs or . . .

Oh, wait. Maybe I do need to burn another bra. I guess we still have some work to do.

Peri Fairy

 

Recently while doing some menopause research for my blog, I came across this definition of “peri”: a mythical superhuman being, originally represented as evil but subsequently as a good or graceful genie or fairy.

“Originally . . . evil but subsequently a good . . . fairy. This made perfect sense. Peri-menopause is a time of crazy shifts in mood. One day you can be going merrily along and the next minute you’re Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Pure evil. Once those shifting hormones level themselves out though, we’re a graceful fairy, sprinkling our happy magic fairy dust across the land. Or maybe that’s just leaking pee that’s getting sprinkled everywhere. I’m not sure.

Most menopause literature is laden with negative stereotypes of women, so discovering the peri, the graceful genie or fairy, was a welcome relief, regardless of its Persian folklore origins. Remember “Feminine Forever,” from the 1960s, when author Robert Wilson declared menopause “a natural plague” and menopausal women “crippled castrates”? Even today, menopause is considered more a medical problem to be treated, and a cultural faux pas – FEMALE AGING!! Of course I’d much rather think of myself as a graceful genie than a crippled castrate. If I were a genie, I’d fold my arms, blink my eyes, and make my husband disappear. JUST KIDDING!

Not.

If you know anything about mythology (I don’t, but I looked it up on Wikipedia), you know that “fairy” can have many definitions. Fairies were also known as goblins, fallen angels, and even could take the form of a demon. I’m not denying I have taken the form of a demon now and again since peri-menopause moved in, but it’s not always about hormones. With age comes wisdom, and in middle age, women are ignored until the demon comes out – and that’s not hormones. That’s self-preservation.

It seems unfair that in our youth, women have to live with the stereotype of the bitchy- girl-because-she’s-on-the-rag, and at mid-life, we have to live with the same stereotype of the bitchy-woman-because-we-must-be-going-through-menopause. Where do these stereotypes come from? Men can be just as bitchy on occasion as women can be, but men don’t have, at least as far as the medical establishment is concerned, a hormonal reason. I guess it’s socially acceptable for a man to express his anger, but if a woman does the same, it MUST be hormones! Sure, maybe sometimes it is hormones. Or maybe, at mid-life, I’m just becoming less tolerable of your bullshit.

In my research, I also learned that the word “peri” means “a supernatural being descended from fallen angels and excluded from paradise until penance is served.” I’ve had a few menopausal demon episodes I probably need to serve penance for at some point, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, I’ll sprinkle (rub in) my peri-fairy dust (bio-identical hormones) across the land (inside my forearms) and try to curb the hormonal demons. And if it causes you offense that I seem more demon-ish than good-natured fairy at times, maybe it’s you that needs the fairy dust, not me.

Nip-Tuck and Tuckered Out

Every few weeks or so, I find myself searching the internet for some strange new symptom of menopause I seem to be experiencing. I’ve experienced a long list of menopause symptoms –night sweats, migraines, mood swings, fatigue, hair loss, insomnia, memory (and bladder) lapses – but this is a new one. My nipples seem to be rotating south.

My smallish boobs have always maintained their perkiness. I attribute this (and no stretch marks) to giving birth while in my teens when elasticity is still at an optimum. So they don’t seem any less perky than normal. It just seems to be a nipple issue. They have literally, overnight, started pointing toward the floor. One morning I woke up, looked in the mirror, and didn’t see a left nipple. Fucking vanished. The right one was half-visible, limping along by itself after being abandoned. I’m not sure what good one nipple is going to do me.

I wondered, as I stared at the mirror waiting in vain for my nipple to reappear, if this new development was some temporary menopausal phenomena, or if my nipples, like the rest of me, just decided to move south. So I did what every menopausal woman with an academic background would do.  I googled “falling nipples.” The first hit back was the CNN report “Smoking Can Make Your Nipples Fall Off.” I do not shit you. I’ve never been a smoker, so am safe. But if you are a smoker, keep an eye on your nipples and for God’s sake get the nicotine patch before it’s too late.

I diddled with my search terms to finally find some useful information. I was stunned to see the term, “Nipple Displacement,” under a list of menopausal breast issues. However, Nipple Displacement was described as when nipples point to the side instead of straight ahead. I wouldn’t be so worried if my nipples were pointing to the side. That would mean they were still relatively perky and had enough life in them to go rogue. A falling nipple, well, that’s just code for droopy boobs.

The website said there wasn’t any way to correct aging breast issues other than cosmetic surgery, and I’m not in quite enough distress over it for that. I’m thinking for now maybe I just need some new bras to perk me up. Maybe I can find some with fake nipples. Don’t. Judge. Me.

My Bad. Your Bad.

I work part-time as a writing tutor at a community college, so am surrounded daily by mostly pre-legal-drinking age young men and women. The older I get, the more I am feeling like I am communicating with a foreign species.

Recently, a young male student apologized as we were reading his paper for a minor misuse of terms. “My bad! My bad!” he said.

I was taken aback. “Pardon?” I asked politely.

“My bad,” he repeated. Noticing a look of puzzlement on my face, he added, “My mistake.”

I wondered aloud to colleagues, when did it become acceptable to use this type of slanguage in college? After I said that out loud, I realized I sounded like a craggy old bitch.

As I pass the intersection of I’m-too-hip-to-be-square, and speed into the land of curmudgeons, I’ve been noticing I complain more and more about the “problem” with the “youngsters” of today. Using the word youngsters is a sure sign you’re in that territory.

One middle-aged friend suggested I brush up on my inter-generational communication skills by reading the online Urban Dictionary. First, I first looked up “My Bad,” which stated –
A way of admitting a mistake, and apologizing for that mistake, without actually apologizing. Ruder than apologizing, but with the same meaning: a flippant apology. “I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let’s just assume that I won’t do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives.”

My immediate reaction was, that’s just what we need to teach our youngsters, how to rudely apologize without really meaning it. As I started searching other terms, I was astonished at the amount of vocabulary I had no idea existed. I learned that prostiboots are boots that are leather, highheeled, and thigh high, like ones found on a prostitute. Everything else I learned on Urban Dictionary is XXX-rated and not suitable for repeating.

And when did it become common usage to use the symbol for “number” as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and inserted into every other sentence? “Hey- what’s up hashtag?” or “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to hashtag you!” or “Hey babe, wanna hashtag?” I haven’t been irritated by an actual word since JJ’s “DYNOMITE!” in the 1970s. I mean, it’s taken on a life of its own!

I guess when I was a youngster, I always thought I’d be a pretty hip (obviously I need to find a new word for this) oldster, but alas, I find myself decidedly archaic. If that’s not bad enough, now I learn that Urban Dictionary has a word for me: I am an aarper, doing too much aarping, meaning, when an elderly person, such as your grandfather, complains incessantly about nothing, as in “Grandpa ruined another family dinner by aarping the whole time about his bunions.”

Please, if you hear me aarping, slap me. My bad.

 

Gym Rat

After falling off the workout wagon over six months ago, I finally got the energy to climb back on and joined a gym. Lately I’ve noticed my mid-muffin spilling over a bit more than in the past, and my inner thighs commingling a bit more than they probably should.

The only gym within reasonable distance to where I recently moved was LA Fitness. The name alone was a turnoff, as I had no desire to work out next to anyone who looked like they were from LA. I couldn’t bear to set myself up for the disillusionment of languishing on a treadmill in my XL t-shirt and stretchy pants next to a botoxed, big-boobed, fake-tanned, 25-year-old blonde. I let out a sigh of relief when a rather large 60-something grandma wearing an “I ♥ Quilting” t-shirt came in with a “Bluffs Run Casino” bag. I felt much better about myself, and I don’t feel bad admitting it.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, going to the gym was more of a social outing. I carefully chose my workout apparel to camouflage the fatty parts and accentuate the flatter parts. Thirty years ago, sweaty, muscled-shirted men would line up behind me to stare at my high, round ass as I climbed the stair-master. At 30, I appreciated the attention.  At 50, my high round ass has fallen into a globular mound of cellulite, and if I even thought anyone was directly behind me as I walked on the treadmill, I would move in fear of accidentally passing gas. As a woman gets past 50, the gym is less of a place to show off your body and occasionally hook up, and becomes a place to regularly experience embarrassment and humiliation. And that’s even before you walk into the locker room.

Once inside, I met with the gym’s sales associate, Jeff, who took me on a tour of the facilities. Like any good sales associate, he asked open-ended questions about my interests. “What type of aerobics classes do you like?” Jeff asked, as he walked me by the aerobics room. There I watched as over-zealous women stepped up, down, up, down on their step platforms as they pumped their arms wildly overhead to a too-loud Michael Jackson remix. “I don’t do aerobics,” I said, backing away from the door. “Okay. No problem,” Jeff said. “We’ve added lots of Zumba classes to our schedule too. Those are really popular,” Jeff added with an air of excitement in his voice. “I don’t do Zumba,” I said, temporarily flashing back to “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons.

Jeff then led me to the full-size pool where two slightly older, slightly obese women wearing rubber swim bonnets were doing painfully slow laps as they held tight to kickboards, which could barely hold their weight. “We have water aerobics classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. It’s a great workout!” As Jeff explained the cardiovascular benefits of water aerobics, I backed out the door, shaking my head. “I don’t swim.”

I sensed I was killing Jeff’s well-rehearsed pitch, and took notice as he scribbled notes on his clipboard. “I guess you could say I’m an anti-social gym person,” I said with a half laugh. Jeff didn’t respond, just shook head as if he understood. “We have a “Ladies Only” workout space. I think you’ll like that.”  Jeff led me into a small corner room with one treadmill, one recumbent bike, one elliptical machine, a few free weights, a balance ball, and the typical female equipment: chest press, leg press, and inner and outer thigh machines. My eyes lit up. I watched as two 50-something bulbous-butted women worked side-by-side on the inner and outer thigh machines in the solitary confines of the tiny, dimly lit room. “Yes. I like this,” I nodded. “This will do just fine.”

Jeff signed me up for the basic package, or the “no contract/no guarantee” membership. Jeff assailed me with the benefits of personal trainers, explaining how important it is to be held accountable, and offered me the “today only price” for a 10-visit trainer package, but I respectfully declined. “I don’t want to be held accountable,” I said. Jeff scribbled another note on his clipboard, I’m assuming to the effect of, “Difficult; exhibits anti-social behavior.” He pushed some papers in front me and I signed my bank account away.

That was two weeks ago, and I’ve been back twice since. They say just stepping through the door is the hardest part, but that’s not true. After you step in, scoping out the competition for who looks your age but in slightly worse shape is the hardest part, and sometimes it takes a while to find that someone who you can compare yourself to who makes you feel good enough about yourself to walk in the rest of the way and actually work out. And if all of us are holed up like me in the back corner ladies room, sometimes that takes some time.

 

 

 

 

Midlife Crisis – or Midlife Miracle?

I’ve noticed a lot of changes in myself since turning fifty. Thinning hair. Splitting nails. Sleeplessness. Brain fog. I was as prepared as any peri-menopausal woman could be, but not as prepared for other shifts. When a woman hears about turning 50, you hear about all the physical symptoms that come with it. But what I wasn’t prepared for was a change in my values.

Up to this point in my life, I have been the typical Type-A:  a high stress, rigidly organized, ambitious, competitive, impatient, over-achieving multi-tasker. And if anyone labeled me a Type-A I considered it a compliment. Now, however, at midlife I find myself a bit, well, unambitious. Maybe even a tad under-achieving. It seems that 50 has demoted me from an A to a B, and I have to admit, I don’t mind. I seem to be morphing into a nicer, gentler version of my former self. I wonder though, is this actually a midlife crisis, or is the crisis actually over?

British researchers studying symptoms of midlife crisis found a few of the typical crisis stereotypes in their subjects: looking up old flames on Facebook; buying a Harley or Corvette, taking up extreme sports or activities, flirting with people 20 years younger. But interestingly, they also found several more subtle indicators: many midlifers, like me, are ready to leave the Type-A life behind. Participants in their research yearned for a simpler life. They would rather spend money on other people than on things. They would rather grow a vegetable garden than a career. They are much less worried about competing and more interested in enjoying the moment.

All of this was beginning to sound very familiar. I have been salivating over seed catalogs this winter, diagraming my spring garden. Friends are climbing up the success ladder while I wave happily from the bottom. Just this week a dear friend – who’s 10 years younger – explained she just had to move up from her too-small 3000 square foot two-story. I moved to the country this year to a house I would have to describe as, well, not exactly a step up – more of a step out. I have purged more possessions in the last year than probably the last ten years combined, and I still feel like have too much stuff. I’m on the verge of becoming a minimalist! Yesterday, I was even searching pygmy goats on the internet. I don’t even like animals! If you would have told me five years ago I’d be flipping through seed catalogs and yearning for a pygmy goat, I’d have told you to shut the f up. And to top it all off, I can’t tell you how many people have referred to me lately as “nice.”

Nice? Me? I’m never been described as nice exactly. Driven, yes. Aloof, definitely. But nice? Not so much. Is this a midlife crisis, or a midlife miracle? While some mid-lifers act out, succumbing to a Harley or an affair, others turn inward. I guess I’m an innie and not an outie. Maybe it’s all the mindfulness books I’ve been reading lately. Maybe it’s the compounded hormones I’ve been taking. All I know is I’m a calmer, gentler version of my former A self. Perhaps I’ve just mellowed with age. The researchers say that the midlife crisis is temporary, but I hope mine lasts. My husband prays it does. Just get me my pygmy goat and nobody gets hurt. At least it’s cheaper than a Harley.