EVE'S JOURNEY: The Physical Experience of Being Female by Susan S. Lichtendorf

EVE'S JOURNEY: The Physical Experience of Being Female

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An attempt--only partially successful--to chart women's physical problems and perceptions decade-by-decade, beginning with puberty and ending with old age. Lichtendorf is a science writer (The New Pregnancy, 1979) with a feel for the conflicting data--about premenstrual tension, for example, or the usefulness of cosmetic surgery. But all ""women's"" topics don't fit neatly into one life-stage or another, so her observations about adolescence and aging, the two distinct stages, turn out to be the most telling. Teenagers' bodies develop in a predictable--if individually timed--sequence; and strenuous athletic activity, it appears, can affect menstruation (ballet dancers may cease menstruating almost completely). In the twenties and again in the thirties, pregnancy and contraception are focal. The woman in her thirties has an edge in motherhood, we hear--thanks to a more highly developed sense of identity (including a more completely achieved separation from her own mother). The big issues later on, of course, are menopause and aging. In Lichtendorf's view, the older woman may actually enjoy sex more than her younger counterpart--since a vagina that lubricates more slowly, and a partner who takes longer for erection, are likely to produce sensitive, unhurried encounters. In a final, all-age section, she discusses work-related stressors and other traumas of female adult life--including mastectomy, hysterectomy, and miscarriage (likely to be treated insensitively by all concerned). Much of this has been explained before, however, and the categorization scheme is too precarious to warrant extra attention.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam