Opinion Archive

Opinion 2015

Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) researchers, program staff, and guest authors draw on their experiences and scholarship to reflect on issues of particular importance to women, children, and families. Their opinions are occasionally expressed through letters to the editor and commentaries submitted to media outlets. The selections below reflect the personal reflections and commentaries of the contributing authors.

Response: Why Are So Many Black Women Dying of AIDS?

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By Erika Kates, Ph.D.

Erika Kates, Ph.D. responds to the op-ed, “Why Are So Many Black Women Dying of AIDS?” by Laurie Shrage, which appeared in the New York Times on December 11, 2015:

Drawing on 2004 data, Laurie Shrage states that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25 and 34. Shrage links the spike in HIV infections in women to the mass incarceration of black men who are the most likely partners of these women. Consequently, her policy suggestions include straightforward measures to reduce the skyrocketing population of incarcerated black men and improved enforcement of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. However, some epidemiologists are critical of the ‘hierarchical’ method of defining risk -- checking off a list of factors (e.g., men to men sex; drug use) in declining order of importance -- because they have learned that contributing factors overlap and are intertwined.

Commentary with Andrew Levack, M.P.H.: Working with Boys and Men to Promote Gender Equality

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Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2015

By Andrew Levack, M.P.H.

Every day I look at the bookshelf next to my desk which displays one my favorite bumper stickers. Its slogan, developed by the Wellesley Centers for Women, states that “a world that is good for women is good for everyone.” As someone who helps develop, implement, and evaluate prevention programs that work with young men, l couldn’t agree more. When we challenge sexism and disrupt patriarchy, everyone benefits—including boys and men.

Commentary: Remembering Beijing: Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration / Platform for Action and CSW59

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Research & Action Report,Spring/Summer 2015

By Layli Maparyan, Ph.D.

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of an important milestone in the history of the global women’s movement: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The BPfA was the outcome document of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China, in September, 1995, along with the parallel NGO Forum in Huairou, China. The U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women represented the culmination of two decades of international women’s mobilizations (in Mexico City, Copenhagen, and Nairobi) and announced the formation of a truly global women’s movement. The Beijing/Huairou events were attended by over 50,000 people. Thus, this 20th anniversary is an important time of both celebration and reflection, not only for those who attended the events, but also for all those who care about and work on the issues enshrined in the BPfA.

Commentary: Virtual Harassment & Bullying in the College Years

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Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2015

By Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D.

Given the immense public attention on cyber bullying amongst teens and that social media is intricately tied to adolescent daily behavior, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of studies on cyber bullying are conducted on youth under 18. A recent review1 found that the highest incidence of cyber bullying in youth occurs during seventh and eighth grades—incidence that increases from elementary school, but decreases into the high school years. One might predict that since cyber bullying wanes in high school, that in college it would continue to wane. It was only until Pew’s recent study on online harassment in 2014—which demonstrated that the cyber harassment rate in young adults aged 18-24 can reach rates as high as 70 percent—that we can now see that young adulthood deserves more attention, academic inquiry, and public scrutiny.