Counselling Women in Midlife: A Sociocultural Framework
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Women aged 45-60 are considered in our culture to be in the middle years of life, a time that is often synonymous with menopause. As is evident in cultural scenarios such as popular television, film, and women’s magazines, as well as advertising geared towards women, midlife is associated with a decline in beauty, sexuality, femininity, and health. Such negative sociocultural messages, or scripts, are so entrenched in western culture that the positive aspects of the midlife transition are overshadowed. Another effect of the prevalence of these scripts is that negative bias towards women and aging may exist among healthcare professionals such as primary care physicians and in biomedical literature, reinforcing the intersection of sexism and ageism by medicalizing a normative phase of lifespan development. As awareness of these issues grows, so does the number of alternative scripts. Exploring such alternatives, re-authoring their own scripts, and allowing the space and time for more qualitative analysis of women’s experiences can be empowering not just for the generation of women who are currently in midlife but also for those in younger generations.