Once more with feeling!

Apologies for publishing this as a stand alone article, but it's here by popular demand.

The three M's that make women marvellous 

I think that women are great. Does that mean that I'm a feminist? A doctor once remarked that he saw me as a strong woman, a true feminist. So, if it's as simple as that, I suppose I must be. It also means that most of my close girlfriends are too. Well done to us then.  Anyway, I want to talk about the three M's that shape women - menstruation, motherhood and menopause.

Girls as young as nine nowadays have their tender lives challenged by the physical and emotional upheaval that menstruation brings. For two weeks out of every four, the hormonal surges of PMS followed by the backswing at the onset of the period can cause huge mental disruption at a time when these youngsters are struggling to discover who they are and how they fit in with those around them. They sit in class alongside their male counterparts to find themselves at the beginning of a lifetime of disadvantage. Where a young boy's only hormonal challenge is his sometimes uncontrollable desire, the young girl is tossed about in a repeated cycle of mixed emotions which must be masked from those around her, sometimes even from her best friend. The truth of the matter is that at times she will feel quite mad, scared at how mad she feels and this then is compounded by the paranoia that everyone is talking about her being mad. The return to feeling normal which floods back at the very moment she realises her period has begun is short-lived. The cycle continues, the roller-coaster ride has no end.

So there we have the formation of the character of the young woman. The essential need for secrecy so that she feels included rather than marginalised. The extra effort needed to keep her studies on track despite the monthly cramps and the seesaw of emotions. The sense of injustice that her male counterparts are having such an easy time of things. And the knowledge that this state of affairs will continue for what seems like a life sentence. With drive, motivation and a determination that the boys will never have to exercise, she forges towards her 20's.

She survives heartbreaks that rock her mental stability even more - how can a boy understand the pain of breaking up when his girlfriend is in the midst of her darkest PMS? Oblivious, or worse, regardless of this he dumps her, suggests they have a break, needs to get out. But she survives, stronger, and by the time she's at Uni she has matured enough to be open with (girl)friends and share the monthly torments and tears. These are the bonding years when deep friendships are formed, secrets shared and dreams are fed and watered - marriage and babies beckon. Still the monthly hormonal surges continue, even once the babies arrive. Add to this, the trials of breast feeding (or God forbid, the guilt of not), sleepless nights, the return of the menstrual cycle and this is shaping up to be quite a mental battle. Survival is her default setting. She copes, she calls her mother and cries, she shouts at her husband, but inside she is growing into a mighty warrior. She would kill for her babies. She is a staunch friend to her girlfriends. She is motivated to win this battle as she has every other.

The years pass, the kids fly the nest, and then the hormones change bringing the last onslaught, the menopause. This almighty battle is the final insult. After all the years of the overwhelming evidence of a woman's sexuality, the plug is pulled, but painfully slowly. The flushes, the night sweats, fuzzy brain and insomnia bring the woman to the edge of the abyss once again. But she is older, wiser, well-read, less vulnerable than when this crazy journey began. Five, ten or sometimes even 15 years later she emerges like a butterfly from a chrysalis, with renewed energy and a strength built from her experience. The journey has been tough, but she has been tougher. Throughout she has more than coped, she has loved, cajoled and supported her family and friends while fighting her background battle. She is marvellous, she is magnificent, she is woman.


Created by bo design