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Conflicting discourses, shifting ideologies: Pharmaceutical, 'alternative' and feminist emancipatory texts on the menopause

Coupland, Justine and Williams, Angela Marian 2002. Conflicting discourses, shifting ideologies: Pharmaceutical, 'alternative' and feminist emancipatory texts on the menopause. Discourse and Society 13 (4) , pp. 419-449. 10.1177/0957926502013004451

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Abstract

This article uses a close pragmatic analysis to examine three discourses of the menopause, each with identifiably different health and lifespan ideologies, each used to further its own set of economic and/or political agendas. We argue that these texts have potentially powerful influential effects on women’s interpretations of their own ‘change of life’. Discourse 1 (the ‘pharmaceutical’ discourse) is represented by pharmaceutical brochures, which construct the menopause as medical ‘pathology’ caused by physiological decrement and generally advocate correcting or suppressing symptoms by ‘treatment’ with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Discourse 2 (the ‘alternative’ therapy discourse) as represented in popular printed media texts, rejects both subjection to medical/pharmaceutical intervention, and many of the claims made for HRT, and recommends that women take personal and active ‘control’ by using ‘natural’ remedies and making lifestyle adjustments. Although in ideological conflict, both these discourses are arguably ageist in their reproduction of negative perceptions of menopause. Discourse 3 (the emancipatory feminist discourse) reconstructs the menopause as a positively significant rite of passage – a time of re-evaluation and new-found freedom. Like Discourse 2, feminist discourse rejects the medicalization of menopause and the claims Discourse 1 makes for HRT. But, in addition, Discourse 3 rejects the dominant medical view of the cultural meaning of menopause, with the end of menstruation entextualized as gain, rather than loss, and redefines female midlife as a time of new freedom, wisdom and personal insight.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Uncontrolled Keywords: alternative therapies, control, feminist emancipatory literature, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), interpretive resources, menopause, pharmaceutical brochures, redefinition, uncertainty, women’s subjectivities
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0957-9265
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 02:20
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/3629

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