What one in ten of us need to talk about
Last week my column about Kim Kardashian caused quite a stir - and quite a debate about feminism and what does and does not constitute the empowering of women.
Lots of people joined in an online debate on what is involved in supporting women against the patriarchy.
It surprised me how wound up people got about it - on both sides of the debate. And then I wondered when did we did we all start escalating nude photos women have taken, willingly, of themselves into the ‘big feminist debate’.
Feminism is about so much more. While Kim Kardashian was flashing what she had for breakfast on the internet, 178 million women around the world are suffering from a painful health condition which is underfunded, under diagnosed, frequently dismissed - and which can affect their quality of life on a daily basis.
It’s a condition which causes chronic pain, fatigue, fertility problems and which affects one in ten women - from teenagers to the elderly.
It’s Endometriosis - a condition where tissue similar to that which lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the body (most frequently in the pelvis and abdomen). The tissue reacts to hormonal changes in the body - it bleeds, it adheres tissue together, sticking organs together so that they stretch and pull on the slightest movement. It causes cysts, irregular and heavy bleeding. It can affect a woman’s bowels, her bladder. The internal bleeding feels like someone is burning you from the inside - if it hits a nerve, it can radiate through your body.
It can make a woman’s stomach swell so that she looks six months pregnant - particularly cruel when a lot of women with endo will experience fertility difficulties.
Current treatments only tackle the symptoms - they don’t tackle the illness itself. There’s no cure for it. A woman can expect multiple surgeries, hormonal treatments and to be familiar with a wide range of heavy painkillers. It’s not uncommon for a woman with endo to require morphine to ease her pain levels.
And yet, we’re not talking about it. We’re not pushing for better treatment (currently in the Western Trust there are no doctors who offer the gold standard treatment of excision). I think, as one of those 178 million, that feminism has its priorities all wrong.