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Page 12, Viewpointe                                                   July 2020

      Book Review

       Why Menopause? & The                                                                                tribes. Until transition to the shorter Agrarian Era that
                                                                                                           enforced Patriarchy and devalued the equality status of
       Grandmother Hypothesis                                                                              women; followed by The Modern World, with capitalism
                                                                                                           and unsustainable population growth.  The Modern
       Susan P. Mattern. The Slow Moon Climbs, The Science,                                                World also invented Retirement, with volunteerism and
       History, and Meaning of Menopause. Princeton: Princeton                                             mentoring the young, which actually had already existed
       University Press, 2019.                                                                             under a different, honorable name: in Mattern’s phrasing,
       Germaine Greer. The Change, Women, Aging, and the                                                   “putting men in menopause.”
       Menopause. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.                                                            Notable scholar and feminist author Germaine
       “He’s speaking now, or murmuring,                                                                   Greer in her classic study presented the change, the
       ‘Where’s my serpent of the Nile?’ .... Think on me,                                                 climacteric, through her prism of feminist ideology, in
       That am with Phoebus’ amorous pinches black,                                                        a less benevolent light. She would agree with Susan P.
       And wrinkled deep in time.” Shakespeare’s Cleopatra                                                 Mattern on the actualization of the term menopause in

       Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,                                                      Book Review on page 13
       The last of life, for which the first was made.
       Robert Browning’s Rabbi ben Ezra

       By Dr. Ronald J. Meyers

          My introduction to the
       nascent  field  of  Women
       Studies mid-last century
       was firstly influenced by
       my good luck. Yes, blessed
       by nature by my doting
       teen-age mother, and with
       my six decades long, loyal,
       loving, virtuous wife.
       Doubly fortunate to have                                              Jeffrey S. Fromowitz, M.D., F.A.A.D.
       been instructed by two Marjories, Dr. Marjorie Coogan
       and Dr. Marjorie Hope Nicholson; the first who not only          Board Certified Dermatologist         Fellow American Society of Dermatologic Surgery
       taught me Freshman Composition at Brooklyn College--   Fellow American Society of Mohs Micrographic Surgery  Fellow American Society of Laser Medicine Surgery
       but set the standard for teaching writing through positive
       reinforcement and individual student guidance; and Ms.      Fellow American Academy of Dermatology        Diplomate American Board of Dermatology
       Nicholson at Columbia, how to enter the mind and soul   • General Dermatology                                  • Chemical Peels
       of John Milton being a guide to translate meticulous
       research into dynamic teaching. I also encountered the   • Mohs Surgery                                        • Laser Therapy
       anthropological work of Ruth Benedict as well as her            ®            TM             ®              ®
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       Germaine Greer; and finally, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy whose
       comprehensive  study  of  motherhood  among  diverse                                Medicare & Most Insurances Accepted
       species of the animal kingdom was eye-opening and
       became a staple of my Literature and Science course for            All new patients receive a FREE Gift after your first visit!!
       several decades.
          Sarah P. Mattern has made a recent contribution with                          *Certain restrictions apply. New patients only
       her timely research, and explanation of menopause.                                    Dermatology of Boca
       She both proposes and intuits the function of what she
       terms its “puzzle”. Is it genetic, merely a biological                     4601 North Federal Highway • Boca Raton, FL 33431
       phenomenon? or is it some purposeful activity willed
       on the basis of natural selection for the benefit of our                               561-362-8000
       species? Her central argument is that menopause was
       indeed a pause, an adaptive exercise, which had the effect   Dermatology of Boca 14.pmd  1                      1/19/2012, 9:22 AM
       to restrict the unchecked growth of the human population.
       The survival of nearly all species depends upon enhanced
       growth of their populations and, she notes, it is usually
       accomplished by fertility and reproduction up until death.
       While humans are not unique, she cites, that females for
       example chimpanzees our closest relative, whales and
       elephants also have a post-reproductive life in which they
       continue to serve their families as mentors and guides.
          She couches her argument in a dizzying quantification
       of mathematical studies. But she offers a simplistic but
       powerful characterization, the Grandmother Hypothesis.
       Everyone has their favorites grandmother reminiscence
       which illustrates the central argument that menopause
       offers the opportunity for a rich post-reproductive life
       that altruistically serves to benefit the species.
          She speculates upon and re-creates the prehistoric,
       preliterate past, the Paleolithic Age, the oldest and
       longest in the history of our species beginning some
       three million years ago. When Homo Erectus, perhaps
       evolving from chimps, learned to walk on two legs,
       enlarged their brains, extended their lifespan, invented
       stone implements and created the family structure with
       its division of labor. Then our cousins, the Neanderthal
       and finally Homo Sapiens, Hunter/Gatherers, the man out
       hunting and gathering while the woman attending to the
       home and coalescing the tribal bond. Even beyond her
       reproductive age, when her man might stray to a younger
       companion, this woman continued to make herself useful.
       Spared the urgency of reproduction, she used the pause
       by continuing to collect tubers, prepare clothes, cook and
       serve as “granny” and care-giver to the young. Professor
       Mattern presents this in a favorable light. She argues
       that these practices continued to be followed in the most
       primitive societies surviving in the modern world such as
       the !Kung of the Kalahari Desert, the Hazda of Tazmania
       and the Ache of Paraguay all of whom, she speculates,
       maintain the basic social structure of the Paleolithic
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