What’s Good For the Goose…
Women around the world are making headlines, and not for winning Pillsbury’s cherry pie bake-off…Recently, German pop singer Nadja Benaissa has been reported to be facing 10 years in prison, after she testified that she knowingly had sex with three men and did not disclose her HIV positive status. She stated that she did not tell anyone for fear that the press would make this information public and damage the lives of her daughter, as well as the reputation of “No Angels”, the hit singing girl-group that she was a part of.
Also recent, in Tanzania, a woman by the name of Regina Joseph stood accused of “dressing indecently” on her way to a local market, and was subsequently attacked by a group of young men who felt that she was dressed in an alluring manner with the intention of passing the HIV virus to whomever would have a sexual encounter with her. According to Ms. Joseph, the group of men said that she wanted to pass HIV, yet they didn’t know her status.
HIV disclosure is a hot-button issue all over the world. Some people feel that those with a positive diagnosis owe it to their sexual partners to inform them (regardless of whether protection is used); to not do so is criminal, and the law agrees. Although disclosure might be difficult and rejection is possible, many feel that this does not let anyone off the hook. This article doesn’t suggest amnesty in that respect, but what it does call for is gender equality when addressing responsibility in these instances.
The last time I checked it took two to tango, so why do the women get the hot seat and the men get to hide in the shadows? I noticed that the names of the women in question are available, but the names of the men involved are not. Apparently they are nameless, or at least they are in the eyes of the media. After reading several articles about both accounts, the search for the identities of the men in each situation became futile. It can be argued that in the case of Ms. Benaissa, her “victims” had been through enough and don’t need the burden of having their identities revealed. After all, the stigma attached to HIV is alive, and well. However, I was hard pressed to find any article that even called to question any responsibility that each man had to himself to insist on using protection.
And in the case with Ms. Joseph, unfounded accusations led to her assault, and she remains charged by her society of the crime of being “attractive”, while a group of woman-beaters are allowed to maraud the town, punishing women for their own lustful thoughts. This speaks volumes about the level of responsibility that continues to be placed on women in society, while men are allowed to shift blame and remain protected. This is irresponsible journalism, wrought with misogynistic slant and opinion masked by omission.
By continually charging women with “the Fall of Adam”, men will feel justified in the blame game, and shirk responsibility at their own expense. I’m not saying to let women off the hook, but I am saying that we must make room on that same hook for men. As the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.