Equality means equality for everyone.
I was reading a post on a site and came across a picture that hurt my brain on many levels having read it. I felt like two worlds were colliding in my mind. My brain was triggered by the picture not just for the men’s issues stuff I write about here, but also the work I do with people living with HIV/AIDS (PHA’s). The website said that this image is reportedly from an academic text from a “Career and Life Management (CALM)” textbook, and the picture itself states that it is a poster from 1994 as part of an HIV prevention program for young adults in Alberta, Canada:
(click to enlarge)
To put this poster in perspective of the social atmosphere at the time in which it was published:
1990: At the start of the decade, the U.S. Congress enacts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV/AIDS.
1991: Magic Johnson came out about his HIV status. Queen’s lead singer, Freddy Mercury, dies due to AIDS related illness
1992: AIDS becomes the number one cause of death for U.S. men (age 25 to 44).
1993: “Philadelphia”, the first major motion picture to tackle the topic of HIV/AIDS came out in theatres (Tom Hanks won the Oscar for his role in 1994).
1994: AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for all Americans aged 25 to 44.
Having posted the picture to my facebook, someone commented that they were having a knee-jerk reaction to it based on their own perspective of men`s issues (we can blame my influence there), but on further consideration felt that there was some legitimacy to it.
Rather than argue about all the negatives and why I felt it was an incredibly problematic poster (mostly because I was running off to an appointment), I chose to pose a number of questions (I later returned and posed some more). This is a method I often use which I feel keeps me from just dropping my opinion on someone and instead makes them think and consider the question and what their own answer would be. I just put the door there and allow their mind to enter it. With that in mind, here are the questions I posed, slightly edited for clarity:
This poster highlights not just victim-blaming, but also male-blaming. It is doing both, with the victim-blaming being excused because it is blaming not just men, but also male sexuality. In this case, it is male heterosexuality that is being demonized, which also underscores the legions of gay men who were suffering and dying at the time as well. I suppose Alberta had no gay men at the time or, at the least, that gay young men weren’t a concern anyway, since they were only infecting each other and not women.