See, I really have been going through this for 10 years: Monday’s CNN story on perimenopause confirmed much that we already know, including the fact that it seems to last forever:

“This is actually a six- to 13-year process, not an event,” said Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of “The Wisdom of Menopause.”…..

“For those women who are exercising, who are eating well, who are
really happy in their work and relationships, they may go through
perimenopause and never ever notice it,” Northrup said.

But she
added: “For the vast majority of women whose lives are overstressed,
under-nutriented, under-exercised, it’s a big wake-up call because your
body is less forgiving than it was in the past.”

gynecologist, Dr. Nadine Becker, said the biggest complaint among her
perimenopausal patients has to do with fluctuations in their menstrual

Irregular periods aren’t the only problems. The Mayo
Clinic reports that 75 to 85 percent of women experience hot flashes
during perimenopause. Those episodes can involve night sweats, which
often make sleeping patterns more erratic.

Other complaints may
include mood changes, vaginal and bladder problems, changes in sexual
function, bone loss and an increase in bad cholesterol.

Northrup told CNN that she sometimes prescribes low-dose birth control pills if perimenopausal women are really suffering, but that the pills’ synthetic hormones “could be a bit of a problem with the liver if you’re having trouble
metabolizing other things and you don’t have enough B vitamins.” Instead, she suggests those pesky lifestyle changes: exercise, diet and stress reduction.

Stepping up for military survivors: This weekend’s Associated Press examination s on sexual assault in the military featured the voices of many women who have fought quietly (and not so quietly) on behalf of women in uniform, including former captain Lory Manning, director of the Women in
Military Project at the Washington-based Women’s Research and Education
Institution, and Christine Hansen, a self-described “Navy brat” who now runs the Miles Foundation, the premier advocacy group for survivors of military sexual trauma.

Of the women veterans from Iraq and
Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have
screened positive for military sexual trauma, The Associated Press has
learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty they were
sexually assaulted, raped, or were sexually harassed, receiving
repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating
victims of military sexual trauma, this one in New Jersey. In response
to complaints that it is too male-focused in its care, the VA is making
changes such as adding keyless entry locks on hospital room doors so
women patients feel safer.

anxiety, problem drinking, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic
abuse are all problems that have been linked to sexual abuse, according
to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides support to
victims of violence associated with the military. Since 2002, the
foundation says it has received more than 1,000 reports of assault and
rape in the U.S. Central Command areas of operation, which include Iraq
and Afghanistan.

most reports to the foundation, fellow U.S. service members have been
named as the perpetrator, but contractors and local nationals also have
been accused.

..— In the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1, 131
rapes and assaults were reported in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Kaye
Whitley, director of the Defense Department’s sexual assault prevention
and response office. Comparing that to previous years isn’t possible
because of changes in the way data was collected, she said.

actual number is likely higher than what’s reported. Among members of
the military surveyed in 2006 who indicated they had experienced
unwanted sexual contact, about 20 percent said they had reported it to
an authority or organization…..

A vast majority of women at war feel safe with
their comrades in arms, “but for the ones who feel unsafe, it’s hell,”
said  [Lory Manning].


Because they teach them that way.
The recent box-office success of Sex and the City and Mamma Mia! has made many ask, “Why are there so few movies like that?”  The answer, according to a screenwriting student in Los Angeles, is that aspiring screenwriters are trained to explicitly violate what’s been called “the Bechdel test” for films – named after 48-year-old cartoonist Alison Bechdel, author of the acclaimed memoir Fun Home and the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.


Utne magazine has listed DTWOF as “one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century.” And Comics Journal says, “Bechdel’s art distills the pleasures of Friends and The Nation; we recognize our world in it, with its sorrows and ironies.”

In addition to her comic strip, Bechdel has also done exclusive work for a slew of publications, including Ms., Slate, the Advocate, and many other newspapers, websites, comic books, and ‘zines.

In 2006, Houghton Mifflin published her graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
The bestselling coming-of-age tale has been called a “mesmerizing feat
of familial resurrection” and a “rare, prime example of why graphic
novels have taken over the conversation about American literature.”

Bechdel’s “rule”, as seen in the cartoon below, is simple: films need to include two women talking, and not just about men. Last year, Bechdel told fans that she’d stolen the “test” itself from her friend Liz Wallace, whose name is
on the marquee:


















The rarity of such films in Hollywood is no accident, says “BetaCandy” at the group blog The Hathor Legacy (devoted to promoting more female characters in films). She was told by bigwigs that she had talent, she writes, as long as she kept her women on the sidelines:

I could still offer groundbreaking characters of other descriptions
(fascinating, significant women, men of color, etc.) – as long as they
didn’t distract the audience from the white men they really paid their
money to see.

I was stunned. I’d just moved from a state that still held Ku Klux
Klan rallies only to find an even more insidious form of bigotry in
California – running an industry that shaped our entire culture. But
they kept telling me lots of filmmakers wanted to see the same changes
I did, and if I did what it took to get into the industry and accrue
some power, then I could start pushing the envelope and maybe, just
maybe, change would finally happen. So I gave their advice a shot.

Only to learn there was still something wrong with my writing, something unanticipated by my professors. My scripts had multiple women with names. Talking to each other. About something other than men.
That, they explained nervously, was not okay. I asked why. Well, it
would be more accurate to say I politely demanded a thorough, logical
explanation that made sense for a change (I’d found the “audience won’t
watch women!” argument pretty questionable, with its ever-shifting
reasons and parameters).

At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted
from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than
one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one
blessedly telling explanation: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to
a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”

Newsmix hopes that BetaCandy has already sent her CV and reels to the producers of Mamma Mia! and SATC, and that she ends up schooling film students that what women talk about is, in fact, what many of us want to hear.

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