Researchers Wonder: What Even Is the Biological Reason for Women to Stay Alive Past Menopause?

Illustration for article titled Researchers Wonder: What Even Is the Biological Reason for Women to Stay Alive Past Menopause?

In the perpetual struggle for women over 40 to maintain their relevance in the eyes of this hellish society, a trio of helpful researchers at a university in Liverpool have performed a study that asks: Why do women even biologically stay alive after menopause? Like, post-breeding age, why don’t we just kick rocks, my ladies?


As the Telegraph points out in a satisfyingly snarky piece, the researchers’s conclusion is that human women refrain from dropping dead as soon as their reproductive system goes dormant because we need to stay alive to fulfill our purpose of nurturing our children and grandchildren. Or, as the researchers put it, “late-life helping.”

This might be a more essential biological function if we were, say, any other type of mammal that does not organize complex societies, such as a few of the 25 other species the scientists studied—female killer whales also apparently refuse to croak after they stop being fertile, by the way—but we do. And the researchers don’t seem to be sure why females of multiple species survive after breeding age; is it “evolutionary tinkering,” or “male philopatry,” they wonder? Who knows. The fact of the study is hilarious in a gallows sense, and very clear: what’s the point of females even living after their primary function of popping out the seeds is done with? Like: Come on, you old, girl! NEXT!

Also, the researchers did not study males, human or otherwise, which seems dubious! But I’m no scientist. The Telegraph:

Now, I’m all for finding out more about our ‘biological purpose’, but the reality is that it has little bearing on the role we fulfil in society.

The reproductive field has changed so dramatically since the inception of humanity billions of years ago that even asking what women ‘offer the world’ save for churning out sproglets feels somewhat reductive. Don’t you think?

I do think! And from a sociological perspective, feminists have long pointed out that nurturing is not exactly a woman’s biological imperative, particularly in organized matriarchies that still exist today. So pardon me if I do not croak after menopause even if I don’t have children—god forbid!—but I got other shit to do. We outchea.

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84-year-old Nobel Prize Winner and working novelist Toni Morrison. Image via Getty.


Snake Person

From a strictly scientific standpoint, it is an interesting question.

The fact that we do build complex societies and are gifted with reason does not erase the fact that we are animals who did not always have pursuits beyond survival and procreation.