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Women's ways of speaking about menopause and hormone replacement therapy: An American discourse on personhood

Cynthia Anne Suopis, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study is an Ethnography of Communication of a communication practice that explores the ways American women speak about menopause and hormone replacement therapy in face-to-face and Internet speech events. Called MenoSupport, this kind of talk occurs in specific speech events where validation, support, and information gathering are the key components of participation. The theory and method of Ethnography of Communication guides the analysis and interpretation of this talk that is described from the perspective of a communication ritual where norms for interaction and rules for interpreting the talk are analyzed to construct features of a model of personhood for this speech community. Key findings in this study include an analysis of a linguistic agon produced in MenoSupport that signals how women talk about both their bodies and their experiences in their bodies. The features of personhood discovered in this study include a woman's expressed requirement for doing something about menopause. Talk about this includes a woman's individual “quality of life” and the statement that she must be able to talk about menopause as a problem. Problematizing menopause creates an expressed need for a woman to take action during this stage of life. Taking action includes talking about menopause and hormone replacement therapy in venues other than the physician's office and medical interview. The key symbols of “doing something”, “taking action”, “quality of life”, problematizing a natural stage of life, talking as support for and validation of self are indicative of a model person who identifies with the unique qualities of being a “Baby Boomer”.

Subject Area

Communication|Language|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Suopis, Cynthia Anne, "Women's ways of speaking about menopause and hormone replacement therapy: An American discourse on personhood" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056283.