Reading “Rethinking Gender, Heterosexual Men, and Women’s Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS” helped open my eyes to really see both sides to the vulnerability of the contraction of HIV/AIDS for both male and female genders.
Since the evidence of women contracting HIV came to the public, there has been a growing movement of the vulnerability paradigm as the reason for so many women contracting the disease. Page two of the article states “an unsuspecting woman is infected not through her own behaviors but as a consequence of her partner’s wrongdoing.” This is basically saying it is hardly the woman’s fault for contracting AIDS. It talks of gender based violence, nonvolitional sex, and relationship power imbalances as causes for increased vulnerability to HIV in women. These situations and causes are verry real in the world, but at the same time, many women have plenty of choice in the practices they choose to use to ensure they do not contract and/or spread HIV. For example, the article talks about how researchers explained that sex workers, pregnant women, and migrant women were the vectors of this disease. being a sex worker is not the most respected profession, and many women are pushed into this field of work. However, many are not. They chose to sell their bodies for a profit, and being in this field, you are in danger of contracting every single thing out there.
The article brings up great points, and I agree with many of them, but is this all that we want to say for the women of today? We are either saying that they are spreading the disease because of being sex workers or they do not have the power to tell their sexual partner to use a condom. We are making an entire half of the population sound pathetic. The truth is women today more than ever have the ability to say no to unprotected sex. Many just choose not to. To go back to Keith Boykin’s “10 Things you Didn’t know About the DL,” he says as point number 10 “stereotyping women as victims will not keep them safe,” and this is the truth! All we are doing is saying “yes, you as a woman are at risk of getting the disease alot more because you are weak.” To me that seems like more of acceptance and holding women down than trying to help them. There needs to be more empowerment among women. There needs to be not a vulnerability paradigm but an empowerment paradigm. Use those statistics in a way to not let women feel helpless, but to feel like it really is their choice and they do not have to be at risk for this horrible disease.
To slightly change the subject, I asked my roommate “Why isn’t there Men’s Studies?” and she correctly answered “because everything is men’s studies!” Now to think about this vulnerability paradigm and see how it makes all men look like they are the all powerful and at the same time do not choose to wear condoms is complete bologna. There are plenty of men who are raped and have been the person in the relationship with less power, but we do not bring them to the light like we do women’s vulnerability issues. If we are to really take a hold of trying to kill this epidemic, all sides must be accounted for. Women who are empowered and say no to unprotected sex, women who are in situations where there is a possibility of violence, women who knowingly choose the wrong practices, men who choose to wear a condom, men who are in vulnerable situations, men who knowingly choose the wrong practices, and everything in between. All are part of the epidemic. All must be cared for.