A feminist study on social and subjective meanings of women’s experıences in menopause

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2017
Fenercioğlu, Nazlı Deniz
This study is an initial attempt to investigate the relationship between medical and heteronormative discourse on menopause as a ‘deficiency disease’ and subjective meanings of menopause based women’s own experiences with a feminist standpoint perspective. The most fundamental argument of the study arises from the assumption that medical discourse on the experience of menopause results in distinctive practices of gender inequality in middle age by imposing reproductivity as inherent to feminine identity and; thus, contributes to social stigmatization of menopausal women, which burden middle aged women in terms of self-value and social position. The field research of this study was conducted in İstanbul. Data was gathered from in-depth interviews held with twenty women belonging to upper-middle socioeconomic class, and who are actively working in professional and/or managerial positions. On the basis of the results of this research, it can be concluded that the experience of menopause often remains invisible in public space, which might be accompanied with the feelings of ‘loss’ and ‘uselessness’. Nonetheless, field research highlights that together with increased social and financial capital by age, professional identity represents a crucial coping mechanism against heteronormative assumptions on womanhood; although menopausal stigma can be apparent in workplace as well. Finally, women’s accounts demonstrate that generational transfer of knowledge and women’s sharing with each other about women’s embodied experiences are significant against medicalization of menopause. Yet, they may be neglected due to identity construction of being ‘modern’ and ‘conscious’ (bilinçli) favoring medical authorities on the knowledge of menopause.