Lately re:Cycling has featured several posts on menopause, and I have begun to think about the other menopause blogs that might be out there. Turns out there are plenty – maybe not as many blogs as there are about reproductive experiences like pregnancy or childbirth but still a lot. There are even blogs that compile info on menopause blogs such as Menopause the Blog.
If you start searching for these blogs it becomes clear that many talk about hot flashes as a major sign or symptom of menopause (or perimenopause), and offer either strictly biomedical or more natural/alternative remedies for signs or symptoms (e.g., Menopause Symptom Report or I Hate Menopause). Other blogs are written primarily for their comedic value (e.g., Menopause Maniac), support value (e.g., Menopause Goddess Blog), or purely informational value (e.g., Menopause the Blog). (Menopause the Blog does a good job of summarizing some of the major blogs out there, just FYI for those who are interested.)
Many of these menopause blogs conflate the menopause transition with midlife in general (you only have to read a few blog entries to know that women talk as much about the bad and good of midlife as a life stage as they talk about menopause) but some are very specific to menopause. I find it very interesting that there can be so many different kinds of menopause blogs. I also find it interesting that so many of these menopause blogs seem to be trying to work out what midlife as a life stage means as well, which resonates with Paula Derry’s earlier post this week about how little we know about women’s midlife in general.
Perhaps what interests me the most, however, is that all of these menopause blogs seem to be either aligning with or struggling against very negative definitions of menopause. Based on my quick perusal, no blog seems to have moved past or risen above the constant negotiation of biomedical definitions. Even if bloggers are writing about how happy they are at menopause or how much they’ve learned about themselves at this life stage, blog entries still seem to be written in response to negative definitions (or at the very least, in response to the ghosts of negative definitions that still hang around menopause even when it is defined more positively).
To me this means that researchers Antonia Lyons and Christine Griffin are correct in proposing that there is only one “master narrative” of menopause and that women, doctors, women’s partners and children, medical institutions, workplaces, strangers, women’s friends, etc., have no choice but to deal with this master narrative in some way. This also means that Abbey Hyde and her co-authors are correct in asserting that even when women aren’t using biomedical definitions to describe their menopause transition, these definitions still shape women’s perceptions of their experiences.
So, my question is, have others read these menopause blogs? And if so, does anyone have a different take on these blogs? Perhaps I’m being too harsh and using a very specific lens to look at these varied blogs. But perhaps not. What then? If you agree with me, is this what blogs are ultimately supposed to be in the end – a response (be it direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious) to the master narratives in our lives?