June 18, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
There are a lot of projects on Kickstarter that are fun, beautiful, brilliant and cool. Kickstarter has an incredible track record of promoting things that touch and inspire us, and while sometimes that playfulness is compounded by a more profound motive behind the project, too few find their way to the top of the crowd-funded heap. There’s immense potential in peer-funding – a potential to tap into universal values, to elicit a call to action that resounds in nearly everyone – to support and propel matters that really matter. Through Kickstarter, a new way of engaging in the act of changing the world is possible – a way that involves more people than ever before; even if each of us contribute in a small way, the awareness alone is a remarkable departure – an evolution – from the old way making meaning.
Interesting, too, is the way meaningful missions have to adapt to this new funding format – addressing a new, wide, public and common army of supporters, rather than to a closed group of scholars and professionals (many with tightly-designed agendas to attend to). Today’s project is a child of this new generation of a higher, crowd-sourced calling.
Duduzile Phindi Mashinini has spent the last year researching the spread of HIV within females in South Africa, and has just published her initial findings. Now, having caught a glimpse of what questions remain – of what’s left to be discovered and of what’s within reach – she is turning to Kickstarter to help fund the next chapter in her investigation.
Gender health research in South Africa points to the central role male dominance plays in affecting female vulnerability to HIV, with some psychologists arguing in favor of male-centered research to understanding this trend, which is what I propose to do. As there are few studies that look at masculinity as it relates to illness/disease in Black South African men, I plan to research the role masculinity plays in regards to illness and disease. Specifically, I will look at what makes men seek or refuse treatment for HIV/AIDS, and what makes those who do seek treatment continue or discontinue it. I believe this research will shed further light on the issue of female vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
Hers is important work that would probably get done eventually through the traditional channels of formal, scholarly funding. Probably. Eventually. These are words that a lot of people can’t afford to abide by, and the world is stepping forward to eliminate them through little acts of support that add up. Eliminate these words from the vocabulary of research by backing a project of grave importance on Kickstarter before June 20.