AIDS in the UAE

This article, “UAE recorded 35 cases of AIDS last year,” is about AIDS cases in the UAE and the struggle to raise awareness around the issue of AIDS. I found it interesting that in the UAE, a relatively “western” country by many standards, an AIDS awareness conference was titled, “Women, Take the Lead… Leaders, Keep the Promise: Stop AIDS.” Isn’t this reinforcing the idea that women are complicit in the spread of AIDS? Why is the prevention of AIDS the responsibility of women any more so than it is the responsibility of men? While I appreciate that this conference is taking giant steps to inform people about the true nature of AIDS and those affected by it, I don’t think that this goal and the fight for gender equality need be mutually exclusive.

As always- what are your thoughts? Am I being “nitpicky” or could this conference have been set up differently? How should the fight to raise awareness of AIDS prevention- and to alleviate prejudices against those affected by AIDS- be addressed in places where prejudices surrounding AIDS may be particularly strong?

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Rape Victims or Rape Survivors?

Last Tuesday, the Human Rights and Women’s Studies departments sponsored an event called “Worst Place to be a Woman.” Dr. Luhiri, a gynecologist who works in Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, came to talk about sexual violence in the Congo. Panzi Hospital is located in Bukavu in the province of South Kivu. The hospital’s doctors see about 3,500 women/day. Women have access to general health care, psychological counseling, HIV and STI testing, emergency contraception, and leadership programs, which help women reintegrate themselves into the community through leadership training. There is also a travelling emergency outreach program for women who have been abducted and raped by the guerilla. (Militia kidnap women to use them as spies, as their personal luggage carriers, for sex, and many other things).

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A Genital Birth Defect Once Linked with Vegetarianism, Now Linked with Hairspray?

The chemical, pthalates, found in hairspray has been linked to the common genital birth defect hypospadias. Studies proved that this birth defect once thought to be caused by a woman’s choice to be on a vegetarian diet during her pregnancy shows no increased risk factors linked with vegetarianism. On the other hand, women who were exposed to hairspray (in the workplace) during the first trimester of pregnancy’s risk of having a son with this birth defect increased two to three-folds.

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Bust, feminism, and solidarity between women

After an exhausting few weeks of what seemed like endless tests and papers, I’ve finally reached Tuesday night, with no paper due and no exam tomorrow. Instead, I have the happy reward of my Well-Woman office hours, where I can snuggle up with Bust magazine on the couch with some tea.

Bust magazine is fabulous for reconnecting with feminist thought- something I miss hearing about now that I have no room for women’s studies classes in my schedule. As I flip to the “New from a Broad” page, I see a lovely spread of mini articles, and large print that reads: “Let’s put the high price of sex back where it belongs: in organic whipped cream” (Laura Kraft). I can certainly agree with that statement. The only reason I’m not on the ring right now is because it would cost half my already meager paycheck each month.

The next article is called “Feminism More than Skin Deep, Now Even More Open-Minded”. Apparently, a recent article in the New York Times claims that “A new study finds that women who describe themselves as feminists are more forgiving than other women when assessing the attractiveness of women who are either very underweight or very heavy.” Continue Reading

Blog alert: The XX Factor

I forgot where I saw this, but it seems too cool not to mention. If you’re an online mag junkie, then you probably know about Slate (Note: Former Bwog Editor-in-Chief Lydia DePillis now writes for them). Then again, if you’re a Slate junkie, then there’s no point in you reading this entry. Turn back while you still can and do some work, damn it!

It’s called The XX Factor (oh, I get it! Chromosomes! Ha…), and it calls itself the “Slate Women Blog About Politics, Etc…” Here are the most recent entry titles:

  • Whose Foreign Policy? That’s the Question
  • Yes, Hillary (Because I’m Rooting for Tracy Flick)
  • No, Hillary, No
  • Give Hill a Chance
  • Taking the Bait: The Feminist Case for Hillary as SoS

Hm, I see a subtle pattern here. Well, at least Hillary’s getting some media back (now that she’s up for Secretary of State) instead of that governor who got prank called by two Canadian DJs.

The global gender gap

The World Economic Forum recently released its annual gender gap report, which examines gender equality all over the world.  It’s pretty interesting: the top four countries with the smallest gender gap are Nordic, unsurprisingly; Denmark is #7; the United States is #27.  Yemen comes in last.

The report looks at four broad categories: economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.  The WEF, which is based in Geneva (Switzerland is #14), noted that while there has been overall improvement in three of the four categories, the gap in healthcare for men and women has widened in the last year.

Perez’s Political Conscience

If you’re a regular reader of PerezHilton.com, then you know the site isn’t all fluff (despite what its perennially pink and sparkly design might tell you). Perez also frequently posts items of political interest, particularly stories that wouldn’t get much media play otherwise. One such post grabbed my attention this morning: a little blurb about the murder of a transgendered woman this past Friday up in Syracuse. It’s a short piece, but take a look at how the story’s handled. For example: “Police say DeLee, 20, shot and killed 22-year-old Moses Cannon. Cannon was living as a female, known to family and friends as Latiesha Green.” After that, Green is repeatedly and only referred to as “he.” I think that wording’s pretty indicative of how transgendered people are seen by the wider American public – as “fakes,” or somehow “masquerading” as the other gender. It’s clear from the article and its accompanying pictures that Green was living as a woman, identifying as a woman – and yet even in death, the media takes that away from her, because America isn’t quite ready yet to accept or understand trans people. Thankfully Perez, with millions of daily readers, is bringing some attention to these issues. But if mainstream media representations continue to depict trans men and women as oddities, how will that perception ever change?

Just some food for thought. It’s amazing what a little language can do.