Today I had a hot flash in my office, which is a feat since my office is ice-box cold. My cheeks got red, my hair clung to my neck, and I got prickly both emotionally and physically. It was a full-fledged where’s-my-chainsaw inferno. To celebrate the hotflash in this blog entry, I searched for an amusing yet affirming cartoon-like picture of a uterus – something Alison Bechdel might draw or Betty White might have laughed at, oh, thirty years ago.
All the uteri out there are hungry for babies, not old and happy to retire. Pictures abound of pregnant women, women with headaches, and relatively young-looking women yearning fearfully. Again I wonder what happened to the women’s movement. The Boomer women, starting with Dianne Keaton and Hillary Clinton, were supposed to resolve these matters. Instead of aging gracefully, they extended youth culture. Instead of making 60 and 70 acceptable, they tweenified 20 and yuppified 40. Yuppy, if you recall, stands for young urban professional, meaning someone who only recently graduated from college and has yet to marry and reproduce, thereby following the social clock and life script.
The image of chick peas stood out in the gallery of picture options that Google served up. What chick peas have to do with menopause literally, I don’t know. Metaphorically, it’s a stretch. Chick = young. Peas = eggs. See? A stretch.
Given the picture’s immense irrelevance to menopause, I selected it to make a point. I wish menopause were either insignificant, or celebrated, or perhaps just understood differently. I wish it were as un-meaningful and uninteresting as taking a poop. Sure, taking a poop is defining: it sits squat at a center of cultural expression, and a somewhat gendered experience, but it remains an act performed by males and females alike. Menopause is so asymmetrically definitive; manopause is a poor complement.
What makes a Gen Xer? Well, we turned 30 after the popular “Thirtysomething” TV show started its death rattle. Now we’re entering menopause with the same jaded sentiment about sloppy girl-seconds.
When Facebook started advertising AARP membership with iconic pink 18-hole Docs, I felt a deep sense of “wrongness.” For me, the wrongness has nothing to do with ageism and more to do with incongruity, cooptation, and the black-hole melancholy of my youth. But, honestly, that’s just my brand of wearing Birkenstocks and waxing nostalgic about “the movement” and the Beatles.
Even though my generation is demographically insignificant, I blame us for a lot of things, and I thank us for Kurt Cobain.