A CNN report published on Thursday claimed sexually transmitted diseases are “sexist” toward women.
The news outlet based its assertion on the findings of experts such as Dr. Hunter Handsfield, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD who has studied STDs for 40 years.
“STDs are biologically and psycho-socially sexist at all levels,” Hunter was quoted as saying in the piece, entitled: “STDS are sexist and women are the losers.”
Another expert interviewed by CNN, Dr. Edward Hook of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said women “bear the largest burden” of STD infection.
Handsfield chronicled examples showing STDs are more readily transmitted from man to woman in heterosexual pairings.
“So at any one exposure, a susceptible woman is more likely to catch it than a susceptible man,” Handsfield said.
According to CNN reporter Sandee LaMotte, this was just “One reason STDs are sexist.”
Another is how STD symptoms manifest and are interpreted in women.
“Symptoms are often more nonspecific in women, and can be mistakenly written off as a typical female annoyance,” LaMotte wrote.
And the “sexist nature of STDs can even follow a woman into the doctor’s office,” Lamotte averred.
According to Handsfield, even expert clinicians “end up scratching their heads about the cause of 20% or 30% of women’s vaginal discharge.”
Hook, meanwhile, related an anecdote about a doctor who failed to offer to test his daughter for chlamydia during a medical exam.
“So my daughter said, ‘Well, did you do a chlamydia test?’ And that elicited a lecture from the doctor on why she didn’t need to have sex to please boys,” Hook said.
“Learn your genitals”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia infection are spiking and chlamydia is especially prevalent among young women.
But “experts” dismiss the “sexist attitude that women who get these diseases must somehow be more sexually promiscuous than men,” as LaMotte put it.
Rather than feel guilty about their infections, experts advise women to get better acquainted with their bodies.
“Learn your genitals,” Handsfield said. “Learn what’s normal for you and be aware of any new oddities, and don’t be afraid to check them out.”