Menopause hit Steinke hard with hot flashes, insomnia and depression. As she searched for some way to understand what was happening to her she came up against a culture of silence. While some books promoted hormone replacement therapy and others encouraged accepting the coming crone, Steinke longed to understand menopause in a more complex, spiritual, and intellectually engaged way.
In this book, which began when she learned that the only two creatures who go through menopause are human woman and female killer whales, Steinke writes frankly about aspects of menopause that have never been written about before, the changing gender landscape that lessening hormones brings, the actualities of transforming desires and the realities of prejudice against older women. Readers learn about the lives of older female animals, that in the 17th century women who had hot flashes in front of others could be accused of being witches, that the model of Duchamp’s famous Étant donnés was a post-reproductive women and that seeing whales in the wild can lead to orcagasms. Flash Count Diary takes readers from Brooklyn, to the National Zoo where Steinke meets a post menopausal elephant, to a brothel in Paris, to the red light district in Amsterdam and finally to a culminating meeting with a wild killer whale matriarch in Washington State’s Salish Sea.
Flash Count Diary, with its deep research, open play of ideas and reverence for the female body, will change the way you think about menopause. It’s a deeply feminist book, honest about the intimations of mortality that menopause brings but also one that argues for the ascendency, beauty and power of the post-reproductive years.