Yikes! I nearly choked on my Bran Buds when I read online that some companies are contemplating menopause sensitivity training for employees. In a misguided gesture to make employees, particularly males, aware that symptoms of menopause affect women in ways that could affect business, they’re suggesting accommodations should be put in place. The inference is that everyone needs to understand that women as an entire gender will lose their minds, inevitably make mistakes, leak buckets of sweat, and generally will require serious lashings of TLC during “that time of life” is so ludicrous I thought it was a joke. Like the time I read that some companies were allowing parents to be present when they interviewed new graduates. Spare me!
My immediate concern is that drawing attention to the inconvenience and health issues surrounding menopause could backfire and instead further stigmatize women. Until you have actually experienced it, it’s nearly impossible to understand and empathize with what women in mid-life are going through. That alone should be a reason to justify sensitivity training but I know personally that whenever women mentioned their hot flashes before I had them myself, I tended to be dismissive and unsympathetic. If mothers with new babies aren’t receiving much support, what can we old broads expect?
One of my girlfriends described how all the younger “girls” in her office used to make jokes about the executive secretaries who worked for the senior managers in her company. They referred to them as the ladies in “menopause row”. We’re now strongly recanting our attitude toward menopausal women.
I once saw a female doctor in her mid-sixties on a television talk show explaining how little was covered on the subject in medical school and how she too was once guilty of minimizing the impact of the symptoms—until she underwent menopause herself. Then, her whole attitude changed. “That’s when I really knew what it felt like. I understood why women gain weight. When I got home from my office at the end of the day I’d be tearing the house apart looking for old Halloween candy.”
The subject was picked up on CTV’s The Social recently when their sole male panellist trying to put forth his ‘sensitive, evolved’ point of view by professing he thought awareness training was a good idea. I appreciate his intentions but it was probably man speak for thinking all the female viewers were going to admire him for being so in touch with his feminine side. What’s next? Seminars aimed at making women accepting of the fact that when men approach andropause (male menopause) we should all be understanding and supportive when they order a Viagara IV, seek out a younger wife and buy a sports car? Do we care when men we work with are suffering from age-related erectile dysfunction? No!
During my menopausal and post-menopausal years (which can last for many years, so be warned, ladies), I clearly remember sitting in meetings where I was the only woman present. I worked in the construction industry which is obviously highly testosterone-loaded. When a hot flash struck I could feel rivers of sweat pouring off my scalp, down my spine and neck, and pooling around my waist. Talk about internal combustion. The fronts of my legs sweated through my pantyhose (we still wore them back then, ancient history). My face, chest and upper body were constantly experiencing internal nuclear explosions we women of a certain age referred to as power surges. Did I want the men around the table to know that I was melting down and cut me some slack? Absolutely not! I also did not want to know that prostrate problems were the reason they had to keep running to the washroom.
Fortunately, after a few months of living with the inconvenience and discomfort of hot flashes, the indignity of gaining twenty pounds, and being unable to sleep, I consulted a doctor and began HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Overnight my symptoms disappeared. No more hot flashes and I could finally sleep through the night. Unfortunately, the extra weight hung on. I remained on hormones for seven years until the worst was over and my body was no longer assaulting me. None of my fellow workers knew and I’m confident they did not care to know what I was experiencing, any more than they would have liked to know when or if I was PMS’d or having my period. It would be like walking around with a giant “M” (for menopausal) on my forehead. Excuse me while I soak your boardroom chairs in hormonal sweat and I might burst into tears. Some things are just personal and manageable.
I must say I understand and appreciate the good intentions that accompany menopausal sensitivity training. Even those ‘woke’ employers who make an effort to accommodate the demands on working mothers mean well but the assumption is always that women need help and that does not help the cause of women.
Therefore, I am not in favour of menopause sensitivity training for employees. It ultimately hurts women. If either sex is genuinely unwell and unable to work, then it becomes a medical issue and sufferers should seek treatment. I realize most men have very little knowledge and understanding of the workings of women’s bodies and reproductive systems, but it’s not the place of employers to educate them.
Employers would be better advised to increase the salaries of women the twenty-six percent shortfall needed to match that of men. That would be truly helpful and equitable. Employers have no business monitoring our menstrual cycles. Am I right or am I wrong?