It goes without saying that women have to deal with sexism nearly every day, whether it’s at work, at home or just walking down the street. It’s just awful and it’s about to get worse because we can add STIs to the long list of things that are sexist towards women.
Now this isn’t exactly a situation where a diagnosed case of chlamydia or gonorrhoea goes around saying inappropriate things to women, promoting men into higher management roles instead of women, or going around with signs that have “men’s rights matter” written on them.
Rather, it’s because STIs are “biologically and psycho-socially sexist at all levels” according to Dr. Hunter Handsfield (via CNN), a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STDs.
To put it simply, STIs are sexist because of a bunch of reasons:
- You’re more likely to catch one if you’re a woman in a heterosexual pairing as infections are more readily transmitted from the man to woman than the other way around.
- It is far more damaging to your health when you get an STI if you’re a woman and can affect fertility.
- Symptoms are often more non-specific for women and and often be mistaken for something else.
- It is far more difficult to diagnose an STI if you’re a woman compared to a man.
The reasons for this is biological rather than institutionalised sexism among viruses. The skin of a vagina is thinner than the skin of a penis, making it easier for infections to get through.
There’s also the issue of STIs getting passed on by men’s semen as if a dude’s bodily fluid stays within a bodily cavity, there’s a greater risk of catching an infection the longer it stays around.
Now this whole problem of sexist STIs isn’t anyone or anything’s fault, it’s just the way we’re hardwired sadly but it doesn’t make it any less irritating. Since it’s not exactly possible to teach STIs to not be sexist, the best course of action for women is to take care of themselves and get checked regularly.
As for the dudes, always wear a condom and don’t be selfish, you already have it good enough as it is.