Friday, March 9, 2012

National Women and Girls' HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

With all of the heavy issues that have been in the news lately regarding women and contraception it's easy to see that a lot of old ideas and rhetoric are still out there. Rush Limbaugh came under fire, and rightfully so, for calling Sandra Fluke  a "slut" when she wanted to testify about the need for contraception to be covered by insurance companies. 

The idea of a woman being villianized for wanting to be in charge of her own body/sexuality is not a new one. Marsha Graham Bartenetti came up with the idea of a "Just In Case" condom carrying compact back in 1983 in order to help women prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

When she intially came up with the idea, she said that she was met with laughter, and a lot of people shamed her for trying to get women to carry condoms. The women, she was told, would be treated like "sluts."

According to Marsha, even recently her product was shunned she says:
"But what really shocked us was when we set up a booth at a very big woman's conference out here in Los Angeles, and moms were coming by, saying 'Oh no, not my daughter, she's too busy studying to be having sex' or 'I couldn't get her one of those, what would she think of me.' If we keep judging it to the point of silence, we're throwing our daughters under the bus."

Marsha continued, however, to persue her goal of getting the "Just In Case" product sold, and has even been on the show The Doctors discussing the importance of women carrying their own protection.

There is a new population of women who need to learn to protect themselves according to Marsha.
"Now we need to get the message across to women my age," Marsha, who recently turned 62, says. "There are huge numbers of baby boomers getting STD's and HIV. They're relieved they can't get pregnant -- so they're not thinking about anything else. It's a game of Russian roulette out there today and women who are newly divorced or widowed don't understand that."

In honor of National Women  & Girls' HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, talk to your mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, about the importance of  a woman protecting herself.

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