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I find men’s apathy in menopausal women so contradictory to their otherwise high level of interest and curiosity for the female body.
“This is not our subject,” said a fifty-plus husband when I reminded him to attend a Talk on Menopause and how it affects women’s physical and mental health.
“Oh really? Is it because they are no more attractive sex objects?” I thought to myself. “When did men become so nirvana about the female body?” I wondered. I have been always used to knowing legit and illegitimate male interest in female bodies. Right from the age of 5 through to their late forties, provided a woman retains her curves up till then, men show so much interest in their anatomy. Society is also so concerned about a woman’s reproductive capacity and performance. It attracts a lot of value as long as it gives hope of conceiving and reproducing a man’s offspring, especially a son. Married women are so pressurised for bearing and nurturing dynasty movers and shakers.
“Now that the reproductive organs of your wife have already served you, it is struck off your list of ‘subjects’ right?” the bitch in me wanted to quip.
The notification for the online Talk by a practising gynaecologist was also posted on social groups with more male members. The Speaker wanted men to attend it in large numbers. She wanted them to know and understand what happens to a woman’s body and mind before, during and after menopause. She said it would help them provide the necessary support to their female relatives, friends or colleagues going through this biological phase. Yet there was hardly any man attending it.
While starting the programme as the anchor, I saw some men joining the online platform. But soon I realised they were logging into their account for their non-tech savvy wives to attend. Because soon after joining, they disappeared from the camera and the vicinity. Their wives came in. The husband who said it was not a man’s subject, stated it, albeit unknowingly, on behalf of most of the men. It revealed their ignorance and apathy about this female biological phenomenon. As far as I could recall, I have heard men only cracking misogynist PJs on menopausal dry vaginas. Even women have a negative outlook on this. Many would remember how a young Bollywood actress made a controversial comment on a famous female sixty-plus author as a ‘fossil’…’ going through menopause.’ I have hardly heard or seen men treating menopausal women with love, wisdom and compassion. Except for a rare few.
The Indian masses anyways have limited and distorted knowledge of the reproductive system. Both men and women are ill-informed about their biological processes. Moreover, female reproductive systems such as menstruation and menopause are mired in deep-rooted superstitions, prejudices, myths and mental blocks. Even women, including the educated ones, are often found not knowing much about these systems, especially about menopause.
I find social conditioning also plays behind the lack of interest to know and understand menopause and how it affects a woman. Since it is the cessation of a woman’s reproductive ability, no one takes interest in it anymore. Somewhere deep down a woman’s worth is measured by her reproductive capacity, among other parameters.
I find men’s apathy in menopausal women so contradictory to their otherwise high level of interest and curiosity for the female body. As long as they are interested in the female body, they research and study it a lot for the purpose. They would look up all resources of information about it, often inauthentic though. By the time their wives reach menopausal age, they have already grown indifferent. They have ebbing sexual interest in their wives bodies due to familiarity-bred boredom. It is common in a monogamous relationship. So, women are often left alone to deal with the bothersome symptoms of menopause.
Like any other physical pain and biological hassles, they have to go through its effects on their physiology and psychology, alone. Unexplainable pains and aches, uneasiness, discomfort, panic attacks, hot flashes, disturbed sleep, mood swings, depression, anger, irritability, lack of stamina and emotional outbursts, all go un-understood. It becomes especially difficult as women often suffer from empty nest syndrome at the same time. The male partners and relatives are not able to empathise. If the women stay at home, do not do much, lack purpose, and are alone, the symptoms bother them even more. In such situations, their husbands have a big responsibility to look after them with care and compassion.
It wouldn’t be possible if they believe it is not their subject.
Published here first.
Image source: a still from the film Thappad
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