By experts through experience
It was Saturday mid-day, and the four of us were supposed to meet to discuss the next phase in the development of the hot flash app that we are working on.
Picture this: Two sixty-year-old women (well, one of us is almost sixty.. not there just yet!) having a technical discussion with two thirty-something young men who are helping us develop the app. I promise you, you would pay to have front seats to that particular meeting.
Zooming through 2020
We have been conducting most of our discussions through Zoom and I do not enjoy having to see myself displayed on the screen during these meetings. It is truly distracting.
The four of us are finally in the ‘room’ and the discussion starts. The user experience designer is really excited about what we call the Hot Button. He has designed a few options from which we are supposed to choose. I can see that he is visualizing a cool game and all the fun things that the button will do when pressed. He is in his young-thirty-something-gaming-male mindset and we look on with amusement.
We, the sixty-year-olds, are trying to recapture what it was like to go through hot flashes and how it felt. What would make a woman going through perimenopause or menopause feel better? What does experiencing hot flashes really feel like in the moment? What would irritate her? What would be useful for her to do? How the app is going to help her.
They, the thirty-something young men have no clue what we are talking about. To their credit, they listen to us and take our comments on board. They find us amusing, quirky, unusual.
Learning from each other
We are equal on that playing field. We are delving into a world which is not ours: the world of coding, app development and programming. We are teaching ourselves new terminology and skills. We find ourselves asking many questions and frequently interrupting the two men to ask for directions to the destination.
However, they are also delving into a world they have no idea about. The world of women. More than that, the world of women in menopause. It is not a world they have ever visited or thought about before. Men usually spend very little time trying to understand the world of women and their biology. In fact, you will often find them squirming with discomfort when ‘women’s issues’ come up. In this world, we lead those two young men. They are getting an education they never bargained for when they signed that contract with us to develop the app!
Sometimes, I find it amusing to think that even if our app had an audience of only those two men, we will have done at least two women a great service by giving their partners an education in the world of menopause that they may not necessarily have expected nor wanted.
It is time that people feel more comfortable talking about ‘female’ issues like menopause. This can only happen when we are not embarrassed to speak openly about an issue that will affect a full 50% of the world’s population, every single woman who lives to reach that stage will experience menopause!
The people best equipped to educate others about it are women who have been through it.
Our young male developers may be the experts in coding and design, but we are certainly the real experts on menopause by sheer experience!