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AIDS and Gender

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

With the recent finding that HIV/AIDS is the biggest killer among women in their reproductive age, we know that there are some serious issues that need to be looked at in terms of this disease and gender.

We know that for most women (an estimated 98% of all women affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries), treatment, prevention and ultimately, equality, are things that they do not have access too. Let’s talk about gender inequality for a moment, shall we? Gender norms are a part of this inequality and accounts for much of the spreading of this disease. UNAIDS states,

Gender norms, for example, often dictate that women and girls should be ignorant and passive about sex, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. Gender norms in many societies also reinforce a belief that men should seek multiple sexual partners, take risks and be self-reliant.

And let’s not forget, they also mention how in in many cultures, violence against women is condoned. So looking at the gender norms of men, it’s apparent that women automatically become more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. These uber masculine gender norms continue to hurt women in many ways, but especially in this area. And of course, when women and girls are supposed to be “passive” towards men about sex, it doesn’t prevent the spreading of HIV/AIDS. A way to hurdle this is to of course promote gender equality, empower women to know more about their bodies and sex, and teach men that these norms aren’t good for women, or themselves. And of course we can’t forget, if there is going to be consensual sex, use a condom!

The WHO talks about another issue that comes up with gender norms. They call it “gender-related barriers” for services, or treatment.

Women may face barriers due to their lack of access to and control over resources, child-care responsibilities, restricted mobility and limited decision-making power.

Socialization of men may mean that they will not seek HIV services due to a fear of stigma and discrimination, losing their jobs and of being perceived as “weak” or “unmanly”.

How true. For women of course, it appears that they are not in control of the decision to go seek out services or treatments. How horrible, but true. Women once against face the brunt of this disease, because of their lack of options. Men on the other hand probably do have much more access to services or treatment, but because of their societal gender norms, they refuse to get treatment. This hurts men. This hurts men a lot. Any cultural idea of what hegemonic masculinity should look like, usually hurts men and it can be seen here that men also pay the price.

I’m not going to sit back here and think I know the solution to all of this. I don’t think anyone actually does; and even if they do, solutions are a very hard thing to put in place and people will still continue to live with HIV/AIDS and die from it. However, I do say that promoting gender equality is a must (it’s a must anyway, but I digress). Through promoting gender equality, women and girls will have more rights, as well as have an understanding about their bodies and understand that consensual sex is where it’s at. Now, I’m not saying that women and girls always have the choice of consensual sex. A lot of times they don’t. But for them to know that that is what kind of sex should be happening, is a must.

Women and girls do unfortunately bare the greater responsibility and consequences of sex many, many times. After all, we are the ones that get pregnant and we are the ones that are more vulnerable to STIs. It shouldn’t be our complete responsibility, however, it sometimes ends up like that. Women and girls must be educated about safe sex and the possibility of HIV/AIDS. Many women and girls are in the dark about this because they have not had access to this kind of education. Of course, this still will not prevent HIV/AIDS, because some men will insist that no condom be used.

And this brings me right back around to promoting gender equality. When women are able to make decisions and choices about their bodies and sex, we will see a decrease in HIV/AIDS, in both women and men.

If you want to read more about AIDS and gender, visit AVERT.

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Thank you, Joanne Lipman

October 26, 2009 3 comments

A refreshing Op-Ed piece has come out of the New York Times, by Joanne Lipman. It is entitled The Mismeasure of Woman. And here, she speaks the truth:

The truth is, women haven’t come nearly as far as we would have predicted 25 years ago. Somewhere along the line, especially in recent years, progress for women has stalled. And attitudes have taken a giant leap backward.

But apparently, since we measure things by numbers (an example being the Shriver Report), we see that women are making a progression. Lipman takes on this notion, and points out that women are not making nearly as much progression as they maybe should be. She talks about how attitudes towards women have pretty much become toxic, and that you have to be one stereotype or the other. How true is that of our society? Women are constantly polarized. You have to be the good girl, or the bad girl.

One telling thing I found was when she mentioned some of her own college experience:

When I was in college in the 1980s, many of us looked derisively at the women’s liberation movement. That was something that strident, humorless, shrill women had done before us.

Was this a part of the problem that caused attitudes to shift? It’s not just about men, but about so many women that look at that feminist movement as something that it wasn’t, and something that the women were not. It’s so unfortunate that these ideas of the feminist movement, along with those women have been made into what they are today. Although I’m not saying that Lipman still has those feelings, I just thought that was telling, as she talks about attitudes towards women being one of the things that sets women back.

I really encourage you to read the whole article. What I am saying definitely does not do it any justice. Lipman has some great ideas and it’s a very interesting piece…so head on over the article now!

Female ski jumpers in 2010?

January 7, 2008 2 comments

The Vancouver Olympics in 2010 may see the first instance of female ski jumpers. There is a lot of pressure towards the International Olympic Committee to allow this to happen, but the IOC says that the sport falls short of basic standards; however, there is a similar men’s competition.

Canadian politicians, among others, are really pushing for this to happen, simply because they see no reason why it shouldn’t, because equality is an important issue in British Columbia and Canada as a whole.

Harry Bains, a New Democratic member of the B.C. legislature, says leaving women out of the competition in Vancouver and Whistler goes against Canadian values, which he noted are committed to providing equality for all.

I definitely agree. I didn’t even realize that there was no competition for women in ski jumping. There is absolutely no reason why there shouldn’t be. Why would ski jumping only be a man’s things? Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. It’s good to see that people are pushing for this, because the world of sport is definitely not equal between men and women. Let’s hope for the best!

Lucy Liu feels bad for men

January 7, 2008 1 comment

Hm. Lucy Liu has pulled a “women are so confusing, making men more confused” kinda thing. This is what she said:

I think men are in some ways a little bit confused but I don’t mean that in a bad way. There was a time when they were expected to open the door for a woman and pay for dinner and do all of those things. Now they don’t really know what to do.

Well, firstly, it’s courteous for anyone to open doors for anyone else. Gender doesn’t matter. But car doors…ugh. I’m personally not that patient, and since I’m a capable human being, I can get myself out of a car. But really, can’t men, and everyone else understand that we simply want to be treated as an equal? No, you don’t have to banish all “romantic” gestures or whatever you want, but just don’t look down on us and treat us in an inferior way.

Not too difficult.

Categories: equality, men, women Tags: , , ,

Go, New Jersey!

November 12, 2007 Leave a comment

It’s pretty self-explanatory!

New Jersey voters have elected a record 34 women lawmakers to the 120-member state legislature. Before last week’s election, women made up less than 20% of New Jersey’s state legislature. With the newly elected women, that number will jump to 28%.

New Jersey is now in 15th place in terms of female representation, along side California and Connecticut. Previously, it was in 43rd place, along side with Alabama and Mississippi.

Lots of news!

November 10, 2007 Leave a comment

Things about motherhood and the economy that feminists supposedly don’t want anyone knowing!

Women are even discriminated against at coffee shops.

Don’t say you want to be a nurse if you’re a man!

Japan is falling behind in gender equality.

Women can now be appointed as assisstant bishops in the Anglican Church.

This is what will most likely occur if Roe falls.

A man is sentenced 70 years to life for sexual assault.

Teen girls are being denied any contraceptives in Jamaica.

Feminism, dead?

November 9, 2007 Leave a comment

The first line of this article made me sigh. Feminism is supposedly dead, and there’s a big thank goodness for that, coming from this particular writer.

One. Feminism is not dead. I think that’s rather clear. If feminism were dead, men and women all around the world would be frolicking (ok, not literally) around in a field of equality, tolerance, and freedom. And unfortunately, feminists are still being stereotyped as the “frizzy-haired women who refuse to shave their legs” and the bra-free women that they are. I, personally, cannot go without a bra, although I am jealous at women who can afford to occassionally go without one.

This writer has clearly been midinformed her whole life about feminists and feminism in general. This is no huge attack on her, but the society that we are all raised in.

It’s the 21st century, feminists are not that hairy-legged stereotype, nor it is feminism dead. Get over it.