gender across borders

Remember when I blogged about my friends who are entrenched in their professional fields of interest? Here’s a perfect example: my friend Kathleen recently posted a link to a piece she had written for Gender Across Borders.

Side note: as I was typing this, my friend Sarah emailed me a link to her dream job, as well as a comment that she was formulating a response to my Dear Starbucks letter. Do I have the coolest, more engaged friends or what?!

Kathleen’s story is a must-read. Not only is she so incredibly eloquent that your emotions ebb and flow with her, but she unabashedly presents her perhaps controversial viewpoint without shame.

She details how she and her roommates in Rwanda recently heard a woman- a prostitute- sounding the cry of a woman in danger, interspersed with cries of “I’m dying” and “Help.” Apparently, she was being raped in the nearby police station.

Yes, you read that right. In the police station.

Kathleen goes on to explain a horrifying fact that I wasn’t aware of:  “The Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Act, enacted under the Bush administration, mandates that groups fighting HIV and AIDS abroad formally pledge their opposition to prostitution and sex work before receiving U.S. government funding.  It limits the services that community health organizations can provide to sex workers- no condoms, no HIV screenings, etc…”

This reminds me of the controversy over clean needle programs that I tweeted about awhile back (though I don’t necessarily think the answer for these two issues is the same).

Her most captivating point is this: “I think that there is a massive gray area in between pure cultural relativism and cultural imperialism.  You can respect, hell even adore, a culture without accepting all of its norms, namely the norms rooted in sexism, racism, and homophobia.”

Well said, Kathleen.

And may I say: I’ll enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte while on a fall walk in your honor 🙂


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