Man and Me_Nopause
DID YOU HEAR THE STORY OF THE BLACK WOMAN WHO INVITED 20 BLACK MEN INTO A ROOM?
On Thursday 10th August (2023) I was one of twenty Black men invited to a Stratford venue, to watch a private screening of the 20 minutes ‘Our Menopause’ film, at an event entitled "Black Men Talk Menopause". We were then encouraged to share our thoughts with the sole female present, Dr Yansie Rolston. The discussion that followed was further evidence that the preferred narrative about Black men that is readily espoused in mainstream media, is so unrepresentative of the brothers who attended.
Rather than share my singular view of the evening, I asked some attendees to share personal experiences:
Andrew Roach - “A necessary conversation and welcome change to hear, plus it was eye-opening to witness Black men without inhibitions. Once this becomes a regular occurrence the next stage is to create the environment for Black women to be in the room with same approach/attitude displayed.”
David Edwards - “I thought the event was well organised and the information was targeted at the right level. The session after the film was very useful as it allowed us to share our experiences and learn from it, as well as understanding more from the women in the film around their individual experiences and coping mechanisms. I took away a great deal of information which I have passed on to my family and friends and overall would not hesitate to attend another event in the future.”
Headley Francis - “It gave me a better insight and understanding about menopause and provided me with better ability support the women in my life who are going through menopause. Plus, it highlighted how we as Black men are collectively affected in our relationships with menopausal women. Having Dr. Amobi Onumaeme in attendance was a great bonus as it meant we could ask and get medical responses to how women are physically affected, and not just focus on the emotional impact menopause has on them."
Tony Harrison - “The outcome of the viewing and following discussion led to a widened understanding of the subject, the debunking of myths and misconceptions replaced with the educating and information sharing of a subject that both men and woman are still learning about. I hope that what we experienced will not be limited to just the small group who gathered on that summer evening but there will be more opportunities for larger numbers of men to meet and discuss the menopause freely, safely and without judgement.”
For myself, as it was my second viewing (and given that the first viewing was with a majority female audience), I was able to instantly see the contrast and benefits derived when Black men have their own discussions on important topics that affect their relationships. My heart was warmed to realise that there is an abundance of Black men who are caring and have a great depth of empathy towards their partners, and that they are keen to learn more to support their partners and better their relationships.
When I asked Dr. Yansie Rolston how the event was from her perspective, she said:
“It was incredible to have so many Black men in a space talking so openly and honestly about not just their experiences as a family member of someone going through menopause, but just their genuine curiosity, so that they can know more and build their information bank The conversations that they were having were from my perspective incredibly helpful because it gives us much more understanding on the work that we need to do. So, we know that we need to focus more on menopause and families. We are already thinking of having a couples-only session as one of the strands to this work and some of the men have already said they are going to organise screenings.”
For more information see www.youandmenopause.org You are encouraged to support them and learn more by buying the book Black and Menopausal: Intimate Stories of Navigating the Change, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Written by Dunstan Creavalle
MY KNOWLEDGE OF MENOPAUSE
My knowledge of menopause up until recently was that it is a relief for women from their monthly periods – No more mood swings, no more “it’s that time of the month”, no more embarrassing moments if caught short, and I am sure there are many young women who are not yet going through the menopause thinking the same.
If you are in tuned with your partner and she had regular periods you would anticipate those times and tread carefully. But to my surprise being with a partner who is going through the menopause has made me realise that it does not necessarily offer relief – it just creates different issues.
Thankfully for the both of us she voices those issues. As a result I am aware of the night sweats, constant hot flushes (which she describes as internal combustion that melts latex), joint pains, headaches, depression, anxiety – it just seems endless. Then there is the brain fog and sometimes even forgetfulness.
But what can I do?
Just be understanding, be supportive, be patient. Fan her when she gets too hot. In other words do the little things that means a lot to her. Get her hot or cold drinks, because sometimes she just can’t get them herself. I have also made the effort to be more informed about menopause and so should everyone and anyone who has a menopausal partner in their life. Trust me it helps. <Brian Quavar>