Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Making Money from Menopause

January 3rd, 2012 by David Linton


No, I don’t mean all those drugs aimed at relieving the “symptoms” associated with the hormonal shifts that sometimes trigger a variety of physical or mood changes nor even the expenses that accompany joining a Red Hat Society (somebody’s making a little change on that flashy head wear!).

Rather, it’s the way Gennifer Flowers has packaged herself following her brief brush with fame as a participant in one of President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals.  A recent NY Times op-ed piece by Gail Collins (December 7, 2011) informs us that Flowers is now working as an entertainer and motivational speaker and that one of her favorite topics is “The ‘M’ Years . . . Surviving Menopause Mania!”  And, indeed, a visit to the Gennifer Flowers web site reveals that her talk “is a humorously-presented speech about the experiences of menopause while giving very current and important medically documented information to women on how to get through these ‘M’ years with the greatest of ease and dignity.”

Unfortunately, the site does not explain just what makes menopause (we presume she means perimenopause) worthy of being called “Mania!” – with an exclamation, no less – nor what makes it so daunting that one needs advice on how to “survive” nor why she feels it’s necessary to be coy with that use of “M” as some sort of code.  But perhaps it’s those unknowns that make one want to pay the fee and invite her to one’s event.

The site also includes a lot of glamorous photos and some teasing references to her other favorite topic, “Surviving Sex, Power and Propaganda.”  There’s that notion of surviving again.  But surviving sex?  There’s something touchingly sad about that.

2 responses to “Making Money from Menopause”

  1. HeatherD says:

    Thanks for posting this, David. It’s funny, I think the idea of surviving is part of our cultural definition of women’s midlife. Regardless of how we feel about Gennifer Flowers or the Red Hat Society or hormone therapies or sex scandals, I think midlife women identify with the notion of survival more than ever. And I think this is gendered survival – “I’m finally done with that relationship, I learned my lesson about X, I’m finally through raising my kids or through my infertility battles, I’m finally done with fighting to be skinny, or I’ve finally learned to be tougher, I’m finally at the time of my life when I can play a little, I’m done acquiescing to sex whenever someone else wants it, I’m finally done with my worries about getting pregnant during sex, I’ve survived that earlier phase of my life!” The list could go on and on. As I was just watching the video you posted, I was thinking about how just her notion of moving on, surviving, not letting something get the better of you, etc., is probably resonating very well with people (women) who are at midlife…..even I would like to hear that reproductive burdens can be outlived, sex and relationship burdens can be survived, etc. You don’t have to like Gennifer Flowers to like and buy the message she’s sending! Anyway, that’s my reaction to what you posted. I wonder if what’s really sad about all of this is that everyone has reasons to need to hear and think that they’ve survived, endured, and persevered against some serious odds. But then again, I was listening to NPR the other day and some doctor was talking about how we have to stop thinking that life is purely happy — it isn’t!

  2. Paula Derry says:

    Some themes that I’ve noticed in recent representations of menopause in the media include: 1) Menopause is discussed more openly now than was the case twenty years ago, and the woman presenting information or being discussed is attractive and successful, 2) But this seeming step forward all too often, as here, presents the same underlying message: menopause is negative and a struggle. 3) Women share personal experiences and 4) There is also a claim to scientific truth even when presenting information which is actually not well established or is controversial (Why would Flowers consider herself qualified to evaluate what constitutes accurate “very current and important medically documented information,” given the complexities about this?).

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