Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blog 3: Reproduction and Health

I will state the obvious and say that sex sells in Western society. But why is it selling and what are the negative and positive views towards the reproduction organs that are actively being utilized? First off, men dominate once again within a patriarchal society and are put on a pedestal when it comes to importance of tending and pleasing them. Their sperm count is virtually endless as they reproduce millions of their little “mini-me’s” inside them every day. The man is granted leadership roles when discussing sex and given priority for sexual pleasure. So what happens when their sexual needs are not being met due to age or becoming “rusty?” Men go to the doctor and are diagnosed with a condition called andropause, which means that they lack testosterone levels and simultaneously have a low sex drive. But wait, men can’t be seen as weak or non-horny! They must be cured to stay on top (pun intended).

Male reproductive systems are given first priority within the gendered world of sex because science is allowing the patriarch to continue dominating. Doctors have created products for increasing and replacing lost amount of testosterone within men that is being sold on the market. Their sexual lives and manliness cannot be lost with age, and must be maintained through keeping up their libido and sustaining their testosterone levels which define their masculinity. Losing control is negative, but upholding a good sex life and manliness is positive, therefore making their sperm count and amounts of testosterone a health concern with positive reinforcements of treatment.

Women, on the other hand, have everything but priority when it comes to medical attention to enhance their reproductive systems. Their monthly cycle of menstruation is not their forte or sign of womanhood, but instead a sign of weakness. Medicine and other products relating to women’s monthly cycle of menstruation are perceived as negative and embarrassing; a time to take medication to cover up women’s symptoms of womanhood. This particular time of the month they will not only become a sensitive and emotional female, but also a bleeder. There “mini-me’s” are not congratulated or recognized, but silenced and degraded as women are pressured to take medications that will control their emotions and prevent them from become a complete bitch (excuse my language, but this is an honest label put on females who are menstruating).

Both menstruation and menopause are considered painful, discomforting, and emotional points in time that hinder a woman physically and mentally as her feelings are metaphorically bleeding out her mouth and eyes, if she cries, and her egg is literally bleeding out of her body, or the process of menstruating is coming to a stop all together. A woman’s libido and her pleasure are rarely, almost never, taken into consideration, when reviewing the types of medications offered to women and their monthly cycle. Sex is not something that raises importance when discussing menopause, unlike a male going through his aging process of testosterone levels.

Both male and female reproduction organs are natural ways of living and one’s health. Why then is there a bias towards male reproduction organs as priority and concern when levels drop, compared to a woman who is losing her eggs every year and eventually will not be able to reproduce after a certain age? The patriarch reinforces the notion of male reproduction systems as critical aspects of a man’s masculinity. But a woman is degraded by her outburst of emotions and a sense of internal and external ugliness she must experience throughout her lifetime of menstruation and menopause.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blog 2: Sexuality and Health

We cannot ask ourselves this question enough, but who is spreading HIV/AIDS? It cannot possibly be you or me. It must be someone else that I do not know or lives half way across the world. Unfortunately, this is not true and Americans cannot expect to have complete confidence in doctors to explain the spread of this epidemic because the public is equally just as important in the search for these answers.

Traveling and migrating to new places can play a surprising role in the spread of HIV/AIDS because if the people who are travelling come in contact with the infected, they contract the disease typically without knowing. For example, the reading about Oaxaca, Mexico discusses the migrant workers who traveled to the US boarders. In their free time they found themselves bored and able to hire prostitutes for entertainment. The specific men who told their stories admitted having sex with the same women during an evening of pleasure. There is a high chance the men contracted the disease through one another’s semen. This does not necessarily mean that these men had sex with each other, although sex between two men is another prevalent cause of spreading HIV/AIDS, but their semen was spread to one another through having sex with the same women.

Also, by the public admitting to how they contracted or spread the disease challenges the stereotypes and assumptions in the world of science of how HIV/AIDS is spread. Some of these confessions include sexual contact with a spouse or intimate partner in which, the disease was transmitted, or an over-all lack of using condoms properly and consistently. Every victim or carrier of this disease have different backgrounds and reasoning as to why or to whom they passed the disease onto, but these people are included in all types of categories ranging from prostitutes to workers to married couples, showing the diversity of who is involved and infected by the disease. This challenges generalization that only the poor and underdeveloped countries are suffering.

In South Africa, there is a heavy blame put on females for spreading HIV/AIDS within the country, but in fact these women are contracting the disease from someone else such as a husband, boyfriend, or male acquaintance. The men had it first and then gave it to the women, therefore the accusations are incorrect and needs to be reevaluated as to who is carrying the disease to the African women? Not only are gender inequalities within South Africa degrade females, but also globally is hindering the care for women who have contracted the disease. “In every country, women with AIDS tend to be more socially and economically disadvantaged than men-younger, poorer, less educated, and less employed than men with AIDS. In consequence, women do not have the same access to HIV testing” (Lorber and Moore 110).

According to the South African traditions and views discussed in the reading, women have the highest rate of becoming victimized by HIV/AIDS, but have the lowest rate of attention and medical care provided for them. Also, the sexual intercourse the females have with a particular male is not always voluntary. The women are frequently forced in a variety of social and economical ways, and also the overriding desire of bearing a child.

I find it extremely important for the world outside of science and medicine to take part and feel just as important as conquering the battle of HIV/AIDS, because the public is who it is effecting and the doctors who are only there for limited support due to access, funds, and resources. Although doctors are the ones who help treat and research the disease, they can only do so much for spreading the word on the streets. Therefore, I believe everyone should take advantage of their right as a human to demand to be informed, aware, and surmount this extreme and devastating epidemic of HIV and AIDS.

I have never met a person with HIV or AIDS, but know that they are somewhere near me. The readings helped me grasp the reality of how close this disease may be to you or me and are not something that solely exists in underdeveloped countries. I also believe that when fear becomes a reality or when someone you know personally becomes a victim of HIV/AIDS, the whole spectrum of having a shield against this disease is torn down. The rawness and bona fide reality of this disease is present and may affect anyone at anytime. So don’t think that the sorrowful television ads of African people suffering from HIV/AIDS are not also making a family or friend in America suffer at the same time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blog 1: Health and Human Rights

When feeling slightly under the weather, middle-class Americans can easily go to the pharmacy and choose from an assortment of medicines and legal drugs. The process sounds extremely easy and accessible. But this does not hold true for the rest of the world, and even among the poor within America. Availability to drugs internationally is quite limited, and the inequalities that are intertwined with the constricted access to medical resources are hindering countless lives. Social class plays one of the biggest roles in dividing health privileges and rights.

Governments have made and are making laws that will seclude the poor to unfortunate health and the wealthy to excellent health care. Not only are the poor already typically in bad situations, but are being stigmatized for their social placement and cut off from the abundance of medical resources that should be available to everyone. Being poor is not solely defined by one’s financial state, but poor may mean a person living in unhealthy conditions through their household, their culture, or even incarceration that is limiting health access and rights for medical attention.

For example, the reading that discusses the Russian prisoners who are being untreated for tuberculosis due to the cost-efficiency debates shows the importance of money over a human body. Living in the underprivileged condition of an over-populated prison with no precautions or treatments towards the health of the prisoners is showing the lack of equality towards medical treatment. Due to the concerns towards cost-efficiency for treating the Russian prisoners have put their rights on hold for inhumane reasons. The prisoners are being pushed aside by the over-ruling social class of the privileged and treated poorly for the state they are currently in; being jail-junkies.

Governments and the groups that are making patents on medication and health care laws are overly concerned about money. This raises the question of health being a business instead of a right, so in fact a person’s life will be determined on the amount of money they have to spend on treatment. Again, social class is placing the unfortunate into an even more devastating position of unfair treatment due to companies’ greed and obsession over their profits. With educated and well-researched groups that can fight these monopolies, rules can be changed to make health care accessible to all areas of societies within international cultures and increase efforts towards prevention of bad health and curing the ill-fated victims of disease. An example of fighting back towards inequalities of health care is shown through the AIDS activists who fought the South African government’s AIDS treatment policies.

Reading and seeing the global inequalities of health rights has helped me look at my own in health with a different perspective. As stated before, I have complete access to any grocery that has a pharmacy and pick up cold/”under the weather” remedies. This makes my health problems seem so minute when thinking about who really needs treatments world-wide. It also makes me grateful for the access I have to medical treatment and health conditions that I have had vaccines for. But it also upsets me to know that health has indeed been turned into a business instead of sincere concern towards human rights.

AIDS is one of the leading causes of death as seen in the movie we watched in class. Every day, thousands of people contract or die from the disease and most cannot be properly treated for it due to lack of funds and conditions of clinics. Yet, companies continue to be greedy with their money and cost-efficient investments with their products. The real concern should be towards the well-being of every individual has a human right. In some of the most extreme cases of painstaking lack of health care, the government should think to themselves, “What if that was my family member and wouldn’t I demand the best health care available?” Everyone that is dieing or infected with disease is someone’s family member, relative, or close friend, so everyone should be given a fair chance to live. Instead, the focus is put towards where the most promising income may be stimulated and not towards the people who truly need immediate care. The scenes from the movie were breath-taking as I sat in my chair and could do nothing for these suffering AIDS victims.

I understand health care changes within the government cannot be done and put into action at a fast rate, but I feel like there is a lack of consideration towards such changes. It shouldn’t have to take an AIDS activist group to convince the South African government to make changes in their treatment access, but should be common sense that infected need treatment, and the dieing prevented. If I worked in an American clinic or hospital where I would witness numerous health-related problems, I know I would want to give those patients equal rights to treatment and life. Also, I would expect as an American to be treated the same way. Therefore, international cultures and governments who are privileged should consider how they personally would want to be treated, and think of how they would feel if they were deprived of equal care. I know it is difficult to transfer these words into actions, but my main concern is for all the governments’ focus to be turned towards humans, not money.