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Perimenopause finally gets more attention – because there’s something in it for men | Arwa Mahdawi
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Perimenopause finally gets more attention – because there’s something in it for men | Arwa Mahdawi

Menopause is so hot right now

If you had asked 20-year-old me to explain what “perimenopause” was, I would have stared at you blankly. Honestly, I would have struggled to even tell you much about menopause. It was never a mainstream topic of conversation and studies have found most women were never educated about it. Indeed, I’m pretty sure I learned far more at school about Henry VIII’s wives than what I could expect from my own body as I got older.

Thankfully, things are changing. The stigma is being shaken away from menopause and it’s finally being taken seriously. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama have spoken up about their experiences and the need to have open conversations about this rite of passage. The actor Naomi Watts has a lifestyle brand devoted to menopause called Stripes Beauty, which was recently acquired by a luxury private equity firm. Other brands are popping up in the space as people realize that catering to menopause symptoms is a lucrative market.

Menopause is also being taken more seriously by the scientific community. In March, for example, first lady Jill Biden announced a new White House women’s health initiative looking into whether it is possible to delay menopause and the health issues that come with it. The announcement started with a droll but depressing story about misogyny in medical research. “In the early 1970s, researchers in the US observed that women who had gone through menopause – therefore, who had lower levels of estrogen – were more likely to have heart attacks,” Jill Biden said. “So, a study was conducted asking whether estrogen prevents heart attacks; 8,341 people were selected for that study. All of them men! This is how things were done.”

Doing things differently requires rethinking the female reproductive system and treating it – to quote a piece on menopause research published by the New York Times this week – as “far more than just a baby-maker”. Ovaries have a massive impact on almost everything in a woman’s body. Once your ovaries deteriorate and stop making estrogen and progesterone and releasing eggs, your risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and other age-related ailments goes up.

The ovaries are “the only organ in humans that we just accept will fail one day”, Renee Wegrzyn, director of the government agency that is heading this new menopause initiative told the Times. “It’s actually kind of wild that we all just accept that.”

One reason we’ve now finally stopped accepting that is it’s starting to look a lot like the ovaries might hold the key to how we increase the human lifespan – for both men and women. There have been a flurry of headlines recently along the lines of The Quest for Longevity Starts in the Ovaries.

Longevity research, as you may have noticed, is all the rage right now among Silicon Valley types and the super-rich. There doesn’t seem to be a multimillionaire out there who isn’t trying wacky new ways to live forever. Now a lot of these people are starting to get very interested in the ovaries indeed. So there you go: now it’s been established there’s something in it for men, we can expect to see a lot more money going into menopause research.

Australian museum hangs Picassos in women’s toilet in response to court ruling

Until April, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) had a women-only art exhibit titled “Ladies Lounge”. It was supposed to be a comment on “the historical exclusion and imbalance in artistic representation”. A man sued and a court ruled it had to be opened up to men as well. So the artist shut it down and now a couple of Picassos that were in the Ladies Lounge are hanging in a female toilet cubicle instead.

Dressing pretty is over: this is fashion’s ugly decade

As a grubby freelancer, I’m ecstatic to hear that sauce-stained clothes are now officially fashionable.

A Dutch volleyball player convicted of raping a child has qualified for the Paris Olympics

In 2016, Steven van de Velde was imprisoned for the rape of an underage British girl he reportedly got to know online. (Some outlets have reported the girl was 12.) That doesn’t seem to be a big deal for the Dutch volleyball federation (Nevobo). In a statement, they said Van de Velde, 29, was “proving to be an exemplary professional and human being and there has been no reason to doubt him since his return”.

Texas abortion ban linked to 13% increase in infant and newborn deaths

What a surprise: “pro-life” policies turn out to actually be pro-death.

‘Hot rodent boyfriend’ is the latest trend reframing men’s looks – why can’t we extend this generosity to women?

The hot rodent boyfriend news cycle has continued far longer than I anticipated. Still, Rebecca Shaw is always worth reading. “There are never stories that tell us: ‘Men are going wild for sexy teapot women,’” Shaw laments in the Guardian. “Or about how yet another movie has cast another anxious spider girlfriend type as the lead.”

What did Joe Biden say about abortion during the debate?

Biden reiterated earlier statements that, if elected, he would restore Roe v Wade. (This is a big promise that would be very hard to fulfill.) Unfortunately, he also offered this shockingly garbled nonsense: “Look, there’s so many young women who have been – including a young woman who just was murdered and [Trump] – he went to the funeral. The idea that she was murdered by a – by – by an immigrant coming in, and they talk about that. But here’s the deal, there’s a lot of young women who are being raped by their – by their in-laws, by their – by their spouses, brothers and sisters, by – just – it’s just – it’s just ridiculous. And they can do nothing about it.”

Iceland has become the first sovereign nation to issue a gender bond

“Gender finance”, which looks at investing through the lens of gender equality, is a growing area. Gender bonds, a type of debt that funds projects to promote women’s empowerment, are a small part of this.

Let Afghan women join the UN talks next week

A UN-convened meeting on Afghanistan is scheduled to commence next week in Doha, Qatar. Women’s rights, or the complete lack thereof, are a pretty pressing issue when it comes to Afghanistan. But the Taliban has ensured no Afghan women will be allowed to participate in the UN meeting and women’s rights are not even officially on the agenda. “The Taliban have silenced women’s voices inside the country using violence and torture,” the Afghan politician and activist Fawzia Koofi wrote in the Guardian. “And by excluding women’s participation at the Doha meeting, the UN and others in the international community have enabled the Taliban to try to silence our voices outside Afghanistan, too.”

The week in pawtriarchy

One of the only amusing bits of Thursday’s car crash of a debate was when Biden told Trump “you have the morals of an alleycat”. A decent soundbite but a stain on the reputation of felines everywhere. The Alleycat Association of America is not a-mew-sed.

Source: theguardian.com