Surprise, surprise! The menopause backlash is here
In a way, I guess, the only real surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner
Carol Kane as the menopause banshee in Netflix cartoon Big Mouth
It was only ever a matter of time. The menopause movement – for want of a better way of describing it – has been gaining momentum for at least a couple of years now, so it couldn’t be allowed to go unchecked for much longer.
Certain elements of the mainstream media had a half-hearted go back in the autumn of 2020 when there was one of those perfect storms of women in midlife all getting mouthy at the same time. My book The Shift was published and I started the podcast (Opens in a new window) of the same name, Caitlin Moran’s More Than A Woman hit the charts, Gabby Logan started her podcast, The Mid.Point, and Karen Arthur launched @menopausewhilstblack on Instagram. Gaby Hinsliff picked up on it and wrote a piece in The Guardian (Opens in a new window) celebrating this new outspokenness and the mood took hold.
Of course menopause experts like Diane Dantzebrink and Louise Newson had been slogging away behind the scenes for years, and Mariella Frostrup had made a documentary for the BBC back in 2018, but this newfound media profile gave added impetus. Davina McCall and Kate Muir made their first documentary for Channel 4 that caused a landslide in awareness when it came out last year, and Labour MP Carolyn Harris launched her private members bill.
Since then, there has been an avalanche of the kind of books I was desperate for when I experienced perimenopause eight years ago: The Menopause Manifesto by the brilliantly outspoken US Ob/Gyn Dr Jen Gunter (Opens in a new window), Menopocalypse by the force of nature that is Amanda Thebe, and, more recently, Mariella Frostrup and Alice Smellie’s Cracking The Menopause.
And these murmurs, this refusal to continue putting up with the lack of information and support (that, let’s be honest, has long characterised women’s healthcare full stop), of being told by doctors that we couldn’t have HRT (if we wanted it, or indeed just wanted to know more about it) because they “didn’t agree with it”, has turned into a roar. That… I hesitate to use the word peaked because I hope it hasn’t, last week when C4 aired McCall and Muir’s second documentary about the impact of perimenopause on our mental health.
And where there is a groundswell of opinion, there is inevitably a backlash.