For this week’s activity post, I will be talking about feminist theory along with my health topic of HIV/ AIDS in Jamaican women. Furthermore, I will be discussing why feminist theory is the absolute best theory choice for examining this unfortunate issue. Something that really stood out to me was the Feminist Anthropology link that discussed how certain words are interpreted and how languages can contour the view of the world. For example, the term “man” can mean everyone as whole or possibly only males (Dominguez, Franks, & Boschma, 2009).
Lecture 1.6. “Introducing Theory 5: Feminist theory” from week 1 also talks about feminist theory and relates it to a plethora of possible questions such as the following two: 1. Is inequality present due to gender? 2. Are people being treated differently because of their gender?” (Gabriel 2018). In respect to this issue, the answer is yes to both of these questions! There are studies showing a direct relationship between human rights, gender inequality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica (Myrie, 2012). These studies consist of a variety of HIV positive women of many cultures, backgrounds and ages. The research has also shown that Jamaican women are specifically “vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the epidemic” (Myrie, 2012). Furthermore, this gender inequality has led to more than the widespread of HIV/AIDS, it has also led to decreased socio-economic status and to the worsening health in Jamaican women (Myrie, 2012). This leads into another question addressed via feminist theory in Lecture 1.6 which was “is someone being treated in a way that creates economic, political or social inequalities?” (Gabriel 2018). So again, yes! The Jamaican women are socially unequal.
Another question from lecture 1.6 is how exactly does gender impact this situation? (Gabriel 2018). Gender has impacted this epidemic in Jamaica via discrimination, unequal/ low quality health care, breach in privacy rights, breach in confidentiality rights, violence and inadequate access to HIV/ AIDS related information (Myrie, 2012). There are also a lot of cultural variables at play here. In Jamaica, it is normal for women to be treated poorly, so when a woman cries out for help, it is often overlooked. Some of these women also fear losing their relationships or even fear physical/ mental abuse from their partners (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). This also goes hand in hand with the difficulties that Jamaican women have when trying to negotiating safe sex. Could you imagine going through this just because you want to practice safe sex? Women in Jamaica really lack autonomy to make decisions about their bodies (Myrie, 2012).
Feminist theory itself is broken into and deciphered by quite a few components. One of the most valuable components that we analyze is power since “identity occurs through discourses and actions that are integrated from power” (Dominguez, Franks, & Boschma, 2009). When I speak about power, I am referring to how men and women interact in Jamaica as well as how Jamaican women are shunned into fear from undying power. This along with a few other components also show the value this theoretical perspective is with my health topic.
Jamaican women have also emphasized their need for more support in the health care setting as they encounter health care professionals (Myrie, 2012). Support is everything as it creates a safe space for somebody. Support allows someone to be able to truly express any health concerns that they may have. In this case, these Jamaican women should not feel like they are treated differently regardless on if they are sex workers or not. These women also should not be treated differently just because of their gender or because of their health status. Unfortunately, there is a stigma that goes hand in hand with HIV positive women, and this stigma is that they are dirty and promiscuous and that they deserve to be infected (Myrie, 2012). It puts a toll on somebody when they constantly think that everyone thinks this about them.
Even educated women who were fully aware about their HIV status from the get go still were at a disadvantage. These women had delayed seeking treatment because of fear of stigma from the health care professionals (Myrie, 2012). This included the fear of breached confidentiality and the fear of discrimination. This had led to some serious consequences such as some of the women losing their jobs. It was assumed that an infected woman could risk business or pose a comfort liability with a client depending on the occupation (Myrie, 2012).
By utilizing this theoretical perspective, it is a lot easier to visualize and reinforce recommendations that have been made to resolve this particular issue. For example, it has been suggested that Jamaica should adopt a gender mainstream as part of their national HIV/ AIDS strategy as well as to find ways to ensure valuable participation from women who are infected (Myrie, 2012). Obviously support should be addressed too. Women should be empowered about their HIV status not discriminated, and access to quality health care should always strive to be improved.
Dominguez, J., Franks, M., & Boschma, J. H., III. (2009). The University of Alabama. Retrieved from https://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Feminist Anthropology
Gabriel, C.(2018). Lecture 1.6: Introducing Theory 5: Feminist theory. D2L. Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/lecture-videos/feminist-theory/
Gillespie-Johnson, M. (2008). HIV/AIDS PREVENTION PRACTICES AMONG RECENT-IMMIGRANT JAMAICAN WOMEN. Ethnicity & Disease, 18(2 Suppl 2), S2–175–8.
Myrie, T. (2012). Human Rights Issues Confronted by in Jamaica – jasforlife.org. Retrieved August 1, 2018, from http://jasforlife.org/files/03HUMAN-RIGHTS-ISSUES-CONFRONTED-BY-HIV-POSITIVE-WOMEN-IN-JA.pdf