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Encyclopedia > Women
Image of a woman on the Pioneer plaque sent to outer space.
Image of a woman on the Pioneer plaque sent to outer space.

A woman is an adult female human being, as contrasted to a man, an adult male, and a girl, a female child. The term woman (irregular plural: women) is used to indicate biological sex distinctions, cultural gender role distinctions, or both. Cropped from Image:Human. ... On board the unmanned spacecraft Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 is a plaque with a pictoral message from mankind. ... See Adult. ... Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces egg cells. ... Binomial name Homo sapiens Linnaeus, 1758 Subspecies Homo sapiens idaltu (extinct) Homo sapiens sapiens Human beings define themselves in biological, social, and spiritual terms. ... Image of a man on the Pioneer plaque sent to outer space A man is a male human adult, in contrast to an adult female, which is a woman. ... Two young girls A girl is a female human child, as contrasted to a male child, which is a boy. ... This article is about sex, meaning the different sexes; male, female, etc. ... The word culture comes from the Latin root colere (to inhabit, to cultivate, or to honor). ... A bagpiper in Scottish military uniform. ...

Contents


Etymology

The English term "man" (from Proto-Germanic mannaz "man, person") and words derived therefrom can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their gender or age. This is indeed the oldest usage of "man". In Old English the words wer and wyf (also wæpman and wifman) were what was used to refer to "a man" and "a woman" respectively, and "man" was gender neutral. In Middle English man displaced wer as term for "male human," whilst wyfman (which eventually evolved into woman) was retained for "female human." Man does continue to carry its original sense of "Human" however, resulting in an asymmetry sometimes criticized as sexist. [1] Map of the Pre-Roman Iron Age culture(s) associated with Proto-Germanic, ca 500 BC-50 BC. The area south of Scandinavia is the Jastorf culture Proto-Germanic, the proto-language believed by scholars to be the common ancestor of the Germanic languages, includes among its descendants Dutch, Yiddish... Mannaz or Manwaz is the Proto-Germanic term for man, in the gender-neutral sense of person, human being. The word developed into Old English man, mann human being, person, (c. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Middle English is the name given by historical philologists to the diverse forms of the English language spoken in England from around the 12th to the 15th centuries— from after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 to the mid to late 15th century, when the Chancery Standard... Binomial name Homo sapiens Linnaeus, 1758 Subspecies Homo sapiens idaltu (extinct) Homo sapiens sapiens Human beings define themselves in biological, social, and spiritual terms. ... Symmetry is a characteristic of geometrical shapes, equations and other objects; we say that such an object is symmetric with respect to a given operation if this operation, when applied to the object, does not appear to change it. ...


Biology and sex

Biological factors are not the sole determinants of whether persons are considered, or consider themselves, women. Some women can have abnormal hormonal or chromosomal differences (such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or other intersex conditions), and there are women without typical female physiology (trans, transgendered or transsexual women). (See gender identity.) Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) refers to any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from defects in steps of the synthesis of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. ... An intersexual is a person (or individual of any unisexual species) who is born with genitalia and/or secondary sexual characteristics of indeterminate sex, or which combine features of both sexes. ... Transgender is generally used as a catch-all umbrella term for a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups centered around the full or partial reversal of gender roles; however, compare other definitions below. ... A transsexual (sometimes transexual) person establishes a permanent identity with the opposite gender to their assigned (usually at birth) sex. ... In sociology, gender identity describes the gender with which a person identifies (i. ...


In terms of biology, the female sex organs are involved in the reproductive system, whereas the secondary sex characteristics are involved in attracting a mate or nurturing children. Most non-transexual women have the karyotype 46,XX, but around one in a thousand will be 47,XXX and one in 2500 will be 45,X. Main article: Life There are many universal units and common processes that are fundamental to the known forms of life. ... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... Secondary sex characteristics are traits that distinguish the two sexes of a species, but that are not directly part of the reproductive system. ... Karyogram of human female A karyotype is the complete set of all chromosomes of a cell of any living organism. ... Turner syndrome is a human genetic abnormality, caused by a nondisjunction in the sex chromosomes that occurs in females (1 out of every 2,500 births). ...

The human female reproductive system
The human female reproductive system

Although fewer females than males are born (the ratio is around 1:1.05), women are more common in the adult population (about a 1.04:1 ratio). Women have a lower death rate than men, even in the uterus, living on average five years longer due to a combination of factors: genetics (redundant and varied genes present on sex chromosomes in women); sociology (such as not being expected in most countries to perform military service); health-impacting choices (such as suicide or the use of cigarettes and alcohol); the presence of the female hormone estrogen, which has a cardioprotective effect in premenopausal women; and the effect of high levels of androgens in men. Venus, classical personification of femininity. ... Venus, classical personification of femininity. ... Le Printemps, 1866 Adolphe William Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 - August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter. ... The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli. ... Schematic drawing of female reproductive organs, frontal view. ... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... Female internal reproductive anatomy The uterus or womb is the major female reproductive organ of most mammals, including humans. ... Genetics (from the Greek genno γεννώ= give birth) is the science of genes, heredity, and the variation of organisms. ... This stylistic schematic diagram shows a gene in relation to the double helix structure of DNA and to a chromosome (right). ... A sex-determination system is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. ... Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Military service is service in the armed forces of a nation or the military arm of a political organization. ... Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of intentionally ending ones own life; it is sometimes a noun for one who has committed, or attempted the act. ... A cigarette will burn to ash on one end. ... In general usage, alcohol (from Arabic al-khwl الكحول, or al-ghawl الغول) refers almost always to ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, and often to any beverage that contains ethanol (see alcoholic beverage). ... Estrogens (or oestrogens) are a group of steroid compounds that function as the primary female sex hormone. ... Androgen is the generic term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone, that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics in vertebrates. ...


After the onset of menarche, most women are able to become pregnant and bear children. The study of female reproduction and reproductive organs is called gynaecology. Women generally reach menopause in their late 40s or early 50s, at which point their ovaries cease producing estrogen and they can no longer become pregnant. Menarche refers to the first menstrual period, or first menstrual bleeding, as a girls body progresses through the changes of puberty. ... A pregnant woman Pregnancy is the process by which a mammalian female carries a live offspring from conception until it develops to the point where the offspring is capable of living outside the womb. ... Newborn with suctioning and umbilical cord Childbirth (also called labour, birth, or parturition) is the culmination of pregnancy, the emergence of a child from its mothers uterus. ... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... The shamefulness associated with the examination of female genitalia has long inhibited the science of gynaecology. ... Menopause (also known as the Change of life or climacteric) is a stage of the human female reproductive cycle that occurs as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing the reproductive system to gradually shut down. ... Human female internal reproductive anatomy Ovaries are a part of a female organism that produces eggs. ... Estrogens (or oestrogens) are a group of steroid compounds that function as the primary female sex hormone. ...


In general, women suffer from the same illnesses as men; however there are some sex-related illnesses that are found more commonly or exclusively in women. A sex-specific illness is an illness that occurs only in people of one sex. ...


Legal rights of women historically

See article Legal rights of women. This article needs cleanup. ...


Some early legal systems that are the antecedents of modern systems formalized female dependency. Law (a loanword from Old Norse lag), in politics and jurisprudence, is a set of rules or norms of conduct which mandate, proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide punishments for those who do not follow...


Mosaic law

In the Mosaic law, divorce was a privilege of the husband only: the vow of a woman might be disallowed by her father or husband, and daughters could inherit only in the absence of sons (and then they were required to marry within their tribe). The guilt or innocence of a wife accused of adultery might be tried by the ordeal of the bitter water. Besides these instances, which illustrate the subordination of women (2 Deut. xxiv. 1. Numb. xxx. 3-Numb. xxvii., xxxvi. Numb. v. II.), there was much legislation dealing with, inter alia, offences against chastity, and marriage of a man with a captive heathen woman or with a purchased slave. Far from second marriages being restricted, as they were by Christian legislation, it was the duty of a childless widow to marry her deceased husband's brother. Mosaic law in the narrow sense is observance of the Ten Commandments of Moses. ... Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage, which can be contrasted with an annulment which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support, child custody and distribution of property. ... To inherit something is to get it from ones ancestors. ... This page includes English translations of several Latin phrases and abbreviations such as . ... Sexual abstinence or chastity is the practice of voluntarily refraining from sexual intercourse and (usually) other sexual activity. ... The word slaves has several meanings and usages: People who are owned by others, and live to serve them without pay. ... The term Christian means belonging to Christ and is derived from the Greek noun Χριστός Khristós which means anointed one, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word Moshiach (Hebrew: משיח, also written Messiah), (and in Arabic it is pronounced Maseeh مسيح). ...


Culture and gender roles

A Bangladeshi woman weaving. Textile work has historically been considered a female occupation in some cultures.
A Bangladeshi woman weaving. Textile work has historically been considered a female occupation in some cultures.

Main article: gender role Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Textile is also a kind of ReStructured Text. ... A bagpiper in Scottish military uniform. ...


From prehistory, women, like men, have assumed a particular cultural role. In hunter-gatherer societies, women have almost always been the gatherers of plant foods, while men have hunted meat. Because of their intimate knowledge of plant life, most anthropologists argue that it was women who led the Neolithic Revolution and became history's first pioneers of agriculture. Prehistory (Greek words προ = before and ιστορία = history) is the period of human history including all previous history before humans which is prior to the advent of writing (which marks the beginning of recorded history). ... In anthropology, the hunter-gatherer way of life is that led by certain societies of the Neolithic Era based on the exploitation of wild plants and animals. ... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος = human) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... The Neolithic Revolution was a term first suggested in the 1920s by the Australian archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe as a description of the switch made by ancient peoples from nomadic, hunter-gatherer behaviour to a settled, agrarian way of life, during the neolithic period. ...


In more recent history, the gender roles of women have changed greatly. Traditional gender roles for middle-class women typically involved domestic tasks emphasizing child care, and did not involve entering employment for wages. For poorer women, especially among the working classes, this often remained an ideal, for economic necessity has long compelled them to seek employment outside the home, although the occupations traditionally open to working-class women were lower in prestige and pay than those open to men. Eventually, restricting women from wage labor came to be a mark of wealth and prestige in a family, while the presence of working women came to mark a household as being lower-class. The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ...


The women's movement is in part a struggle for the recognition of equality of opportunity with men, and for equal rights irrespective of sex, even if special relations and conditions are willingly incurred under the form of partnership involved in marriage. The difficulties of obtaining this recognition are due to historical factors combined with the habits and customs history has produced. Through a combination of economic changes and the efforts of the feminist movement in recent decades, however, women in most societies now have access to careers beyond the traditional one of "homemaker". Equal opportunity is a descriptive term for an approach intended to give equal access to an environment or benefits, such as education, employment, health care, or social welfare to all, often with emphasis on members of various social groups which might have at some time suffered from discrimination. ... The Equal Rights Party was a Canadian political party that nominated two candidates in the 5 March 1891 federal election. ... Look up Sex in Wiktionary, the free dictionary The members of many species of living things are divided into two or more categories called sexes (or loosely speaking, genders). ... Economics (deriving from the Greek words οίκω [okos], house, and νέμω [nemo], rules hence household management) is the social science that studies the allocation of scarce resources to satisfy unlimited wants. ... Feminism is a body of social theory and a political movement primarily based on, and motivated by, the experiences of women. ... A stereotypical housewife A homemaker is a person whose prime occupation is to care for his/her family and home. ...


These changes are among the foci of the academic field of women's studies.
Plato is credited with the inception of academia: the body of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations. ... With stylus and tablet, an upper-class Pompeiian demonstrates her privilege: literacy Womens studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics. ...


Terms

The English language's original word for "woman" was Old English wīf, akin to German Weib; it later became the modern word "wife." The modern word "woman" etymologically derives from wīfmann, with the addition of mann, "person", from Germanic mannaz. This formation is peculiar to English. The equivalents for "man" in Old English were wer (a cognate of Latin vir, "man") and wǣpnedmann, literally "weaponed person". Man continues to carry its original sense of "Human", though that usage is increasingly discouraged and regarded as sexist. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Etymology is the study of the origins of words. ... Mannaz or Manwaz is the Proto-Germanic term for man, in the gender-neutral sense of person, human being. The word developed into Old English man, mann human being, person, (c. ... Binomial name Homo sapiens Linnaeus, 1758 Subspecies Homo sapiens idaltu (extinct) Homo sapiens sapiens Human beings define themselves in biological, social, and spiritual terms. ... Sexism is discrimination against people based on their sex rather than their individual merits. ...

 Two young girls
Two young girls

The word girl originally meant "young person of either sex"; it was only around the beginning of the 16th century that it came to mean specifically a female child. Nowadays girl is also often used colloquially to refer to a young or unmarried woman. Since the early 1970s, feminists have challenged such usage, and today, using the word in the workplace (as in office girl) is typically considered inappropriate in the United States and United Kingdom because it implies a view of women as infantile. The use remains commonplace in several other English-speaking countries. Two young girls at Camp Christmas Seals, Haverstraw, New York (August 1943). ... Two young girls at Camp Christmas Seals, Haverstraw, New York (August 1943). ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... A male Caucasian toddler child A child (plural: children) is a young human. ... This article provides extensive lists of events and significant personalities of the 1970s. ... Gender-neutral language (gender-generic, gender-inclusive, non-sexist, or sex-neutral language) is language that attempts to refer neither to males nor females when discussing an abstract or hypothetical person whose sex cannot otherwise be determined, as opposed to more traditional language forms, which may use male or female... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


Conversely, in certain non-Western cultures which link family honor with female virginity, the word girl is still used to refer to a never-married woman; in this sense it is used in a fashion roughly analogous to the obsolete English maid or maiden. Referring to an unmarried female as woman can, in such a culture, imply that she is sexually experienced, which would be an insult to her family. Honor (or honor) comprises the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group. ... A virgin is most commonly seen as a person who has not engaged in sexual intercourse. ...


In more informal settings, the use of girl to refer to an adult female is also common practice in certain usage (such as girls' night out), even among elderly women. In this sense, girl may be considered to be the analogue to the British word bloke for a man. Some regard non-parallel usages, such as men and girls, as offensive. Political correctness is the alteration of language to redress real or alleged injustices and discrimination or to avoid offense. ...


There are various words used to refer to the quality of being a woman. The term "womanhood" merely means the state of being a woman; "femininity" is used to refer to a set of supposedly typical female qualities associated with a certain attitude to gender roles; "womanliness" is like "feminity", but is usually associated with a different view of gender rôles; "femaleness" is a general term, but is often used as shorthand for "human femaleness"; "distaff" is an archaic adjective derived from women's conventional rôle as a spinner, now used only as a deliberate archaism; "muliebrity" is a neologism meant to provide a female counterpart of "virility", but used very loosely, sometimes to mean merely "womanhood", sometimes "femininity", and sometimes even as a collective term for women. A bagpiper in Scottish military uniform. ... In language, an archaism is the deliberate use of an older form that has fallen out of current use. ... Muliebrity Muliebrity is the state of being a woman. ... Virility is part of the traditional idealized male gender role. ...


Slang

Zanzibar woman, c. 1890
Zanzibar woman, c. 1890

There are also many slang terms to refer to women; these have existed throughout history, and change over time. Some of those common in contemporary usage are: Download high resolution version (600x901, 107 KB)Photograph of woman from Zanzibar by Coutinho brothers, c. ... Download high resolution version (600x901, 107 KB)Photograph of woman from Zanzibar by Coutinho brothers, c. ... Map of Zanzibars main island Zanzibar, Tanzania, comprises a pair of islands off the east coast of Africa called Zanzibar (Unguja) (1994 est. ... Slang is the non-standard use of words in a language of a particular social group, and sometimes the creation of new words or importation of words from another language. ...

  • bird: primarily a Britishism, most women see it as demeaning. Others celebrate it with events such as "hen parties".
  • Bitch: originally, and still widely used as, a pejorative term, particularly as applied to women perceived as aggressive, this is now used more casually in some communities in the UK, (particularly in ebonics [McWhorter 2003], and even affectionately, especially between women [McWhorter 2005]), though it remains a predominantly offensive term.
  • Chick: literally a young chicken or young bird of any kind, this term is mildly offensive to some women who interpret it to be infantalizing or objectifying; it is chiefly an Americanism. It is sometimes claimed that the usage derives from the Spanish chica (girl), but neither the Oxford English Dictionary nor Merriam-Webster supports this derivation. The word chick was used in a gender-neutral sense to mean "human child" at least as early as the fourteenth century. The popularity of the usage in North America may, nonetheless, be due in part to its similarity to the Spanish word.
  • Sister: a term which women rarely use when addressing each other; it is associated with, although by no means exclusive to, African American idiom. The same term is used within feminism, and also in the transsexual community in referring to other transsexuals.
  • Sheila: commonly used in Australia.

Several older pejorative terms used by men, such as broad or skirt, are now archaic, and rarely encountered. A hen party (or bachelorette party) is a party for women only, often held for a woman who is about to be married. ... Look up Bitch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary The word bitch — originally used for the female members of the canid species, specially dogs — is more often employed in a figurative sense as an insult for a promiscuous woman, or a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, and/or mean person. ... Ebonics (a portmanteau of ebony and phonics) is a colloquial term for African American Vernacular English (AAVE). ... The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a comprehensive multi-volume dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP). ... Merriam-Webster, originally known as the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, is a United States company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Websters An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). ... (13th century - 14th century - 15th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 14th century was that century which lasted from 1301 to 1400. ... World map showing location of North America A satellite composite image of North America North America is the third largest continent in area and fourth in population after Asia and Africa in area and population and Europe in population. ... Sister may refer to: a Strange alien creature found somewhere on the west side of Mars. ... African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... Feminism is a body of social theory and a political movement primarily based on, and motivated by, the experiences of women. ... A transsexual (sometimes transexual) person establishes a permanent identity with the opposite gender to their assigned (usually at birth) sex. ...


Authors often create new euphemisms or other terms to refer to women, an example being the use of the word burger on the American television sitcom The Cosby Show to refer to an attractive female. Hamburgers often contain lettuce, onions, and other toppings, as shown here. ... A sitcom or situation comedy is a genre of comedy performance originally devised for radio but today typically found on television. ... The Cosby Show, starring Bill Cosby, is an American sitcom that was first broadcast in 1984. ...


Vulgar terms

In some cultural groups, terms considered extremely offensive to most women (e.g., bitch, cunt, or ho) are used to refer to women in general. Many terms that refer to women's physical appearance (e.g., hottie, a sexually attractive woman) see wide use, but many consider them to imply sexual objectification, although many heterosexual women use hunk to describe an equivalent man. Look up Bitch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary The word bitch — originally used for the female members of the canid species, specially dogs — is more often employed in a figurative sense as an insult for a promiscuous woman, or a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, and/or mean person. ... Cunt is an English term that refers to the human female genitals. ... Ho is a two-letter English word with various meanings: hi hi A contraction of the Anglo-Saxon word hoe meaning high ground as in e. ... Sexual objectification is, in some circumstances, the fetishistic act of regarding a person as an object for erotic purposes. ...


See also

Especially many proponents of feminism have argued that the achievements of women have been insufficiently represented in works of history up through the 20th century. ... Rosie the Riveter: We Can Do It! - Many women first found economic strength in World War II-era manufacturing jobs. ... Gender and sexuality studies is a collective term for the interdisciplinary study of human gender and sexuality. ... The titles of the following works of literature consist of the name of the female protagonist only: A - C Henry Adams (writing as Frances Snow Compton): Esther: A Novel Edward Albee: Tiny Alice Bess Streeter Aldrich: Miss Bishop Candace Allen: Valaida Grant Allen: Hilda Wade: A Woman With Tenacity of... A matriarchy is a tradition (and by extension a form of government) in which community power lies with the women or mothers of a community. ... Misogyny is an exaggerated aversion towards women. ... The New Woman was a feminist ideal which emerged in the final decades of the 19th century in Europe and North America as a reaction to the role, as characterized by the so-called Cult of Domesticity, ascribed to women in the Victorian era. ... Obstetrics (from the Latin obstare, to stand by) is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of a woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (the period shortly after birth). ... Although women had always been represented among science fiction writers (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has been called the first science fiction novel), it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Joanna Russ began to consciously explore feminist themes in works such...

References

  • Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003 3rd edition) ISBN 0618254145
  • McWhorter, John. 'The Uses of Ugliness', The New Republic Online, January 31, 2002 Retrieved May 11, 2005 ["bitch" as an affectionate term]
  • McWhorter, John. Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority (New York: Gotham, 2003) ISBN 1592400019 [casual use of "bitch" in ebonics]

May 11 is the 131st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (132nd in leap years). ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and is the current year. ...

External links

  • FemBio - Notable Women International

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