“But in the terms of the power discussion, what if, in fact, you are power? What if in fact you are powerful, in that you feel like you make the decisions about the man that you’re going to sleep with, and whether you’re going to use a condom with him or not? What if you’ve got the power in deciding? But we know this is not the case for so many of our young women, and yet we’ve grown up with prevention that presumes and assumes, and that incorporates the idea of giving women power. We’re asking — we’re needing — power over primarily an organ that we don’t even have attached to our body.
“The other piece of the discussion, of course, that’s always been missing, long been missing, is: AIDS, Inc., does not know what to do with heterosexually identified men….AIDS, Inc., does not know what to do with sexually active men who are not exclusively gay — let me put it like that. Unless you are exclusively gay, out, or even a little bit kind of halfway what society labels as “down low,” AIDS, Inc. doesn’t know what to do with black men’s sexuality. It just doesn’t. We don’t have the right studies for it. We don’t have the right access for it. We don’t have any idea, except prison — which is my whole other issue — of where you can have an opportunity to engage men around health literacy, right? Sexuality addiction that plays into factors; sex that happens with men that does not mean, or does not reflect, an orientation. We don’t have the places to have those discussions. The good thing about what we’re doing with the girls is that we’re able to have those venues to have that discussion.
“But as long as we’re able to access health care, mostly around our reproductive organs, and men don’t have a similar place where they even ever have to come into care, unless they’re coming into care for prostate cancer — and that’s a sure sign that they’ve come too late — we’ve been doing one-hand clapping for a long time. So it’s not even about what works, or what doesn’t work; we’re still trying to figure it out.”
~~Tracie Gardner, Founder and Coordinator of the Women’s Initiative to Stop HIV/AIDS NY at the Legal Action Center
Read the rest of the interview here.
Image Credit: News One