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HIV-AIDS, risk and the transformation of sexuality in Yogyakarta

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thesis
posted on 2023-05-27, 17:07 authored by Rowe, EM
HIV-AIDS is both an agency for change and an unfortunate side effect of the revolutionising forces of globalisation and modernisation. The epidemic should not be viewed simply as a biomedical concern. HIV-AIDS brings into question all that motivates and preoccupies a society. By looking into the phenomenon of such a meaning-laden illness we can learn much about a nation and the way that nation wishes to be portrayed. In recent times, HIV-AIDS has been perceived theoretically as a gendered epidemic. The inference is that the virus is longer perceived to affect homosexuals or marginalised communities only: it has also taken on a female face. In developing nations the epidemic is conceptualised as an illness of deviants and a metaphor for socio-sexual liberation and transgression. This understanding has encouraged policy makers and charismatic authorities to vigorously promote strictly conservative cultural values in order to address the issue of HIV-AIDS. Javanese culture has very clear understandings of masculinity and femininity, articulated in a gender ideology which was strengthened and systematically imposed during the period of the conservative Suharto regime. Women who stepped outside the models prescribed by this ideology were and continue to be condemned and silenced. A conservative gender and sexuality ideology shapes the manner in which men and women interact. Nevertheless, throughout history there have existed alternative models. In the contemporary period these models in many ways align with influences from other worlds. Young women living in urban contexts in Java are exploring alternative ways of self-expression, beginning to question traditional ideals and demonstrating diversifying and modernised socio-sexual behaviours. This dissertation seeks to explore emerging female socio-sexual identities in Y ogyakarta, Indonesia, within the framework of the impact of HIV-AIDS and young women's perceptions of the epidemic. Observations of the lifestyles of young women are brought together with an exploration of their attitudes and experiences related to sexuality and HIVAIDS. It is argued that HIV-AIDS can be used as conceptual tool for investigating change. The manner in which the epidemic has been apprehended by the authorities and how it is understood and experienced within society can be seen to reflect both the formal agendas of the nation and how nation and society are transforming.

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