Sandra Tsing Loh
The Bitch is Back
"DURING MENOPAUSE, a woman can feel like the only way she can continue to exist for 10 more seconds inside her crawling, burning skin is to walk screaming into the sea—grandly, epically, and terrifyingly, like a 15-foot-tall Greek tragic figure wearing a giant, pop-eyed wooden mask. Or she may remain in the kitchen and begin hurling objects at her family: telephones, coffee cups, plates. Or, as my mother did in the 1970s, she may just eerily disappear into her bedroom, like a tide washing out—curtains drawn, door locked, dead to the world, for days, weeks, months (some moms went silent for years). Oh, for a tribal cauldron to dive into, a harvest moon to howl at, or even an online service that provides—here’s an idea!—demon gypsy lovers.
But no, this is 21st-century America, so there is no ancient womyn’s magic for us but rather, as usual for female passages, a stack of medically themed self-help books. (I ask you: Where are the vampire novels for perimenopausal women? Werewolf tales? Pirate movies?) That’s right—to fully get our crone on, we’re supposed to read, even though it may feel, what with the giant Greek chthonic headpiece, that one can barely see out the eyeholes. (Who can focus on words on a page? Who can even remember where she left her giant octagonal Medea-size reading glasses?) Rest assured, though: I’m here to help. Gentle reader, if you are a female of transitional age, which can apparently be anywhere from 35 to 65 these days, let me be your Virgil to the literature of menopause. Long have I wandered through the dry riverbeds, long have I suffered; now I’ve come back to share my wisdom."
Read more of the Atlantic Monthly essay that started it all.