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    Silence Taboo and Midlife Women: A case study of the Midlife Women Rock Café in Waterford city

    Cronin-Bermingham, Breeda (2020) Silence Taboo and Midlife Women: A case study of the Midlife Women Rock Café in Waterford city. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    ‘‘Menopause . . . is the quintessential biopsychosocial experience. It is both crisis and opportunity”. McQuaide (1996:132) This study explores how women in contemporary Ireland understand, experience, and negotiate menopause. The research examines how the Midlife Women Rock Café in Waterford city acts as a third place contributing to women’s understandings of both menopause and self. A qualitative research approach was utilised consisting of twenty semi structured interviews and participant observation. This research highlights how menopause has remained “a taboo subject for polite conversation” (Beck et al., 2018) for too long and the consequences for women’s health (The Women’s Health Task Force,2020). The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of menopause as a deficiency disease constructed within the language of deficit, marked by decline, loss of youth and shame needs to be reviewed (WHO,1981). The findings reveal that in contemporary Ireland this no longer reflects women’s lived experience due to the narrow focus on loss of hormones and little else (The Midlife Women Rock Project,2020). Furthermore, in reviewing the literature, it was noted that mental health and suicide rate statistics across the female lifespan in both the U.K and Ireland are highest in women aged 45 to 60 years (Table 1.1Female suicide rates by age group, per 100,000 population 2001-2018). These are the year's most women transition through menopause. Yet, there is no direct correlation found in the literature between menopausal management and suicide rates peaking in women at 51 years of age. This needs to be spotlighted and addressed in future research. What emerges from the findings includes a massive dearth in information and understanding around menopausal transition particularly perimenopause. The shroud of secrecy silence and taboo is being challenged and overcome by women actively seeking information and understandings. The significance of the findings elucidate that women are looking for ways to negotiate and navigate the silence (by attending talks, conferences and the Café) in order to develop a voice and understandings. This inquiry illustrates how women are pushing to counteract the taboo and silence. The conclusions reveal that in attending the café to counteract the taboo and silence, these women are creating new more positive enabling narratives, pertaining to menopause and self. They are also able to de-personalise the process which hugely reduces stress and anxiety. Furthermore, the research found that the Midlife Women Rock Café has created a unique place where women from all walks of life can come together. The Café enables meaningful connections and this place offers a platform to allow these women to define themselves through their stories, but also through the stories of others. They access information, understandings, and support one another as they journey through menopause. This is leading to the re conceptualisation of menopausal narratives, a debunking of historical myths and the creation of new narratives that enable and empower the women pro-actively and positively manage this life phase. In 2020 women’s voices need to be heard, this case study is revealing how their voices can be heard and how women are making their voices heard even in small places like the Café highlighting the importance and need for such places throughout Ireland. As Robin (Respondent C) outlined “The information I am collecting just makes me feel empowered, in control of this. I am going to go out and give this gift to another woman”.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Silence Taboo; Midlife Women; case study; Midlife; Women; Rock Café; Waterford city;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 14196
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2021 14:31
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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