News, Culture & Society

LIZ JONES: Menopause a disability? No, it makes you Superwoman!

It’s a headline that puts the women’s movement back 100 years. ‘Sacked court worker wins back her job plus £19,000 payout after tribunal rules her menopause was a “disability”.’

So a rite-of-passage experienced by all women is somehow no longer normal; something women have coped with, silently, for millennia has suddenly become a disability. Great! Now not only will men not hire us because we might start having children, they won’t want us when we can’t. (There’s no hiding it; we’re the ones who start saying to young women out on a Friday night: ‘Won’t you be cold without a coat?’)

What is it with these women? You’ve lost your libido, love, not a limb. The menopause just means that, like your husband’s jokes, you’re getting old.

It’s a headline that puts the women’s movement back 100 years. ‘Sacked court worker wins back her job plus £19,000 payout after tribunal rules her menopause was a “disability”

But despite this fact, the menopause is now an achingly fashionable cause. The new: ‘I’m really, really stressed.’ The new rock ’n’ roll, even, since it can boast its very own Brit pop website (oh God, now I do feel old), penned by former Oasis wife Meg Mathews.

Her ‘MegsMenopause’ site is filled with helpful nuggets such as ‘Killer and short-finned pilot whales experience the menopause’. Great. We already feel like beached whales, thanks very much. It’s even being discussed in Good Housekeeping in the same terms as Brexit, with Kirsty Wark talking of her ‘hard menopause’.

I am all for openness and honesty when it comes to the travails of being a woman – how it feels to be cheated on, or to not be paid as much as an inferior man, or to feel too fat or too thin – but here’s the thing none of these menopause mavens let on about: it can actually be your secret superpower.

Thank God not to have the worry of walking into a party, and wondering if anyone fancies you. Or braving going past a building site. Or having to ask the taxi driver to just wait, please, until you have seen me go inside my front door and shut it.

As someone who has struggled with low self-esteem all my life, the menopause has been a revelation. I no longer care what anyone thinks of me. I spend so much time challenging banks and utility companies – the sort of people who used to scare me – on my phone that my border collie hides as soon as I start to dial, paws over her soft ears.

As younger women we put up with so much nonsense because our hormones are telling us to be nurturing, and that if we throw out our one chance of motherhood because he smoked in the bathroom we will die barren and alone.

Once there is no chance of babies, there seems no point to a man cluttering up the place.

Perversely, we are not more grateful for male attention as we age – we’ve seen it all before, and know how fickle it can be – but we are far more demanding in bed. We no longer care if we hurt his feelings.

We never fake it. We never do it because he wants to, or even bother making up elaborate excuses. I told my last ex the reason I couldn’t have sex was because I’d just ironed the duvet cover.

It’s a shame men don’t go through the menopause, and become as harmless as labradors that have had the snip, so stop trying to hump the sofa.

Best of all, I just love the enthusiasm of the Post-Menopausal Woman. Not just the well-known women like Mary Beard, or garden expert Carol Klein who was leaping about at the Chelsea Flower Show like a gurning gazelle despite two hip ops, but the white-haired women who volunteer in charity shops, who travel, surf, cook, see West End musicals, run and ride. They have blossomed, not withered, on the vine.

Kirsty Wark, in the same interview, let slip she’d love to take over Question Time when David Dimbleby finally hangs up his teeth. I’d love to see the PMW take on QT, reducing pompous, red-faced men and tight-jacketed, ambitious, beady-eyed younger women to quivering jellies.

We may have been through the menopause, but you don’t trifle with us.



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