Summary of Womens Health

This semester has been a great learning curve for me. In particular this subject taught me many, many things, such as helping me to form my own opinion around women's health and also be opened minded to the diverse range of issues that women face in today's society. I loved every tutorial and lecture, it did not feel like study, more like a surroundings in which I could learn about all the diverse issues that surround women and dissuss with my peers. This subject challenged me and also helped me to become more open minded. I would with out a doubt encourage my other peers to choose this subject as an elective :)

All the best,
Karlie Bedford

Week 11 : Women's Health in same sex relationships

This lecture identified that there are many health issues that affect same sex couples, apart from the most widely known sexually transmitted diseases. However, the lecture also noted that LGBT persons are more prone to contracting an STD as they are less likely to seek medical or contraceptive help as thy live in fear of stigmatization and discrimination. Alongside STD's other common health issues include mental health problems and depressive disorders due to the homophobic views of society.

In regards to sexual health many of you will remember this campaign:

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Yes this was banned however my point is this is for men!!! why is there none for women? Maybe the women are not needing education on same sex sexual health?? because they are portrayed like this in society: sexual fantasies for men???

Example one: THE MEDIA


There's nothing more persuasive to get a woman to buy new kicks than a scantily clad nurse, lesbian overtones and a giant hypodermic needle. Come on girls! Let's go shoe shopping!

Example Two: Celebrities

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Fishnets, hand cuffs and leather??????

Example Three: Mens Magazines

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Or the other extreme if your not a banging hot! you are seen like this:

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My point is today's society need to stop the stereotyping and judgmental views against LGBT. They deserve the same respect and access to health care as anyone else. More health education should be focused on same sex couple health and people need to accept it and keep their opinions to themselves. The stigmatization needs to stop it is the 21st century not the 1600's....

Karlie :)

Women In Vietnam (weeks 7- 10)

I am currently into my third week in Vietnam for placement for community nutrition. As soon as I stepped off of the plane my mind started to analyse things from a public health perspective: as it is very different from Australia. The population of Vietnam is 85 million... need I explain anymore, it is very crowded, busy and polluted in the city.

I would like to start off on the broad subject of public health here in Ho Chi Minh City; before going into women's health more directly.

The most obvious public health issue you will witness in Ho Chi Minh is the sea of motorcycles dodging each other, trucks, cars and buses and driving all over the road. The scooters or motorbikes will have one to six people all crammed onto the back of the seat... you even see them occasionally carrying larger more obscure objects such as a door, pieces of metal, large bags of rice and animals. Furthermore, you will also notice pregnant women on the back of the bikes sitting with there legs dangling to one side, wearing no helmet and carrying other children.

Another issue is hygiene, the hygiene in Ho Chi Minh City is extremely poor in the main suburbs or districts.While walking the streets you can see kerb kitchens making food with meat that has been left to hang in there stalls while the family dog rummages around the tables. They empty buckets of fishy water all into the gutters making the streets smell of pungent, rotting fish.

Moving on from general public health issues I would now like to talk about the health and culture of women in Vietnam. In terms of hygiene women have to deal with a lot harder circumstances than we do in Australia: lets just say a nice toilet here has toilet paper if your lucky! In most toilets you are provided with a 'hose' that you are simply meant to wash your self down with. It is the most uncomfortable experience especially due to humidity during the day. Not to mention the possible spread of disease through the use of these hoses.

The toilet issue now leads me to the subject of inequality of women in Vietnam. I was most appalled when I went for a run to the local park and needed to use the bathroom and was asked to pay money to use the toilet. As I was going for a run I did not think to bring money with me so I was forced to hold all the way back to the hotel which took an hour to walk back to due to all the traffic. However, I was mostly alarmed by the fact that the male toilet was FREE OF CHARGE ( slightly ironic- since males can pretty much go wherever they like). Using the toilet is a basic human right and should not have a tariff based on your sex! Ok so maybe they are a little bit behind in regards to feminism but women work like men over here so shouldn't they have the right to pee like men too! On my first day in Vietnam I noticed that there was lots of building and infrastructure being created by many workers all dressed in bright orange. Then I looked a little closer to realize that at least half of the workers were women who were carrying large bags of concrete, laying bricks and driving heavy machinery. I know this is not an uncommon sight to see in Australia, but over here it is on a much larger scale. Women are also seen pushing large industrial bins around the streets picking up rubbish and sweeping the paths.

In regards to women being exploited due to sexuality it is less obvious here than in western countries. For example the advertisements are not based on women's bodies and most women cover up while walking around the streets. However, being a female blonde tourist here we are subjected to lots of comments by the local men. I was told that the men over here believe that Australian women are 'easy' and all they want to do is get drunk and have sex. Needless to say, a group of Aussie girls walking down the streets are commented on by males sitting in the gutters making foul kissing sounds with their mouths and glaring at you like you are in a zoo. Being aware of this if you plan to holiday here you really need to bring clothes that cover up, because they also believe that revealing clothes means you are inviting them to have sex.

Moving out of the city, down to the Mekong Delta, the roles of women here was much more obvious. In the community the women were seen picking fruit and making grass baskets and hats, while the men were down on the river catching fish or building infrastructure out of wood and palms. Women here were also the main drivers of the bum boats paddling through the canals carrying large amounts of fruit, leaves and tourist.

In conclusion my three weeks in Vietnam have been a very great experience I still have one more week left so I will update if I notice anything else in regards to women's health :)

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This is a nice toliet!
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Vietnamese Bum Boats (women drivers)

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This is a candy making factory in the Mekong Delta majority of the workers here were women.

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This image was at taken at the Cao Di temple. This is a religion which is has many regions within it. Ultimately they believe there is 9 steps until heaven. To move up a step you have to be on your current steps for many years. Only the people dressed in colors are allowed to move steps; might I add non of which were women. However, there were plenty of older women who worshiped there for their entire life and were still on the second step.

My experience in Vietnam was a very very very valuable experience The cultural differences from the western society is huge. I cannot even begin to compare their values, customs and ways of life to here in Australia. I stress that if anyone wants to travel and see a culture which is only just being affected by western society to visit here. You will learn so much and it will open your eyes. The culutre is so rich!

Week six

Why Can't we Have it All???

This lecture really bought home the idea that we cant have what we want. The harsh truth of the human physiology is that while we know marriage and buying a house can wait while we travel the world and create successful careers, our eggs cannot. We have been bought up to believe we deserve a great life and the idea of a great life entails money, travel, a respectful husband, a for filling career, a house and to be able to have a family, the reality is this only occurs for the lucky few.

I guess the idea of being a strong, independent women is very liberating however, being old and lonely is not. Our feminist grandmothers and mothers can be held accountable for making us believe we need a career and that women can do anything!!! The only problem with this idea is, as we look after ourselves and believe we are doing the best to deny age, our eggs are not. We have a biological clock that will onetime run out of time.

So we can't have it all.... but I guess all we can do is try

- Karlie

Week four/ Five

Distorted beauty

I was unable to attend this lecture, however I read through the slides and I really wish I had of been able to go! Certain topics stood out to me and really made me wonder why we live in a world where appearance is perceived as more valuable than health!
The idea of someone cracking the bones in my legs to make me a few cm taller makes me cringe, but for others this is just a small price that they are willing to pay in the quest to beauty. This lecture also hit a little personal spot with me, this is because as a teenager I had anorexia. This for me was completely about appearance, at 13 I had hips and boobs ( features not all 13 year old's have) and I felt like I was not normal and FAT. Seeing the models in the magazines with long limbs and twig like figures was something that I wanted. So I managed to get into a mind frame where I starved myself for a year. In this year I stunted my growth, fractured relationships with my family, lost my periods and gave myself serious digestion problems which I now have to live with. This is something I still have issues with today... honestly the idea of eating a cheeseburger is something that scares me. But I have managed to move past it, but it will be something that is always on the back of my mind when I chose my meals.
This is what they don't put in the magazines....all they horrid effects of obsessive dieting and how it ruins peoples lives. The thing that sickens me the most is that there is websites out there that still encourage people with eating disorders and give them more ammunition to stop eating.
I just wish there was more support out there for normal girls....why can short girls model, why cant a size sixteen girl walk on the catwalk next to Mirranda Kerr?
The way I see it is the models are mules for the designers, blank canvas's if you will.
A really talented designer would be able to create pieces for short and curvy girls as well instead of sticking to the sample size!
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This is not healthy nor is this beautiful... its a sad result of a world where image is paramount!


Week Three


Women have been put into stereotypical categories for many years. Think of the 50's where women were meant to be the 'perfect house wife' , married, have beautiful, well behaved children, and enjoy cooking and cleaning. Skip forward a few decades and the 'perfect' women consist of a toned lean body and an ageless face . However, this is only one stereotype from the 21st century, there is also 'cougars' (women who are perceived to prey on younger men by filling their faces with botox), then we have 'super mums' (women who manage to juggle a career, look after children and do domestic duties around the house) and old ladies (who are considered past their used by date and are restricted to TV adds for 'Depend adult nappies'). These are just a few Westernized stereotypes that the media like to sculpt women into.
But really who actually looks like those girls who are posing on the front of Zoo Weekly!

The disturbing thing is that these stereotypical images are not just targeted at women but also at the younger generations. Barbie is the most obvious and well known 'idealistic women' forced down the throat of girls at a young age. Barbie has unrealistic proportions and if she was to actually exist her body weight would be so low that she would not be able to menstruate. This is certainly not a healthy image we should be giving our children! On the topic of Barbie I would like to show you a 'real life Barbie' I came across on the internet. (Have a look and think about actually looking like this it would be a NIGHTMARE).

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As you can see on her facebook page she gets a lot of criticism, so why do the media portray this image as normal when clearly it is not. Women come in all shapes and sizes our IDENTITY cannot be placed into a common group.

-Karlie xx

Week one and Two

The last two weeks have certainly bought a lot of interesting issues to light in regards to being a women. I have learnt that being a women is more than being classified a female. The difference between sex and gender gave me an incite into how we are shaped from the day we are born as either a female or a male. It raised the question of, "what if we had no outside influences as to what gender we were to be as a child?" , " what if gender was decision we got to decide on ourselves?".

The classification of what gender we are does not simply decide on what coloured nursery we should have or what toys we should play with, but it dictates our life and identity. In the less fortunate countries in the world the such as Afghanistan, China, India and Africa being born with female genitalia will mean that they will most likely have poorer health status, shorter life spans, no education, sexual abuse and child arranged marriage; that is if they even get the chance to live past childhood due to harsh gender selection at birth.
In relation to gender selection some countries would prefer to have a boy child than a girl. This is because males are of more benefit to the family as they are perceived to be stronger and have more opportunities to provide for the family. However, what is to say a female can not be just as useful, powerful and strong?!!!

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BECAUSE, without females the human race cannot exist.
-Karlie :)