The Conception of Responsibility : Experiences of and Reflections on Male Contraceptive Responsibility in Sweden

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi

Abstract: This essay examines male contraceptive responsibility in theory and practice, within the framework of experiences of existing contraceptives, as well as views on new contraceptives for men that are being researched.    In today’s Sweden, contraception is largely a female area. However, with progress on the area of research into new hormonal male contraceptives, we might be headed towards a different reality. In hope of gaining a fuller understanding of contraceptive experiences, this paper aims to contribute to the understudied area of men and reproduction, and add understanding of how men would approach a new contraceptive.    The empirical material consists of in-depth interviews with five male Medicine students and Intern Physicians living in Sweden – some of the people who are going to influence other’s contraceptive realities in their professional practice. The essay explores the social contexts in which these men’s personal contraceptive experiences and thoughts around responsibility are created.    The results show that women use contraceptive methods to a greater extent than men do. However, it is thought among the students and Physicians that contraceptive responsibility should be equal between the genders, and the approach to using a new male contraceptive is positive.    Female contraceptive use is understood by the informants as a “burden”, the sharing of which is posed as the main reason to use new male contraceptives. New male contraceptives are hence found to be understood as a female right, rather than a male right.    The essay shows that perceptions of responsibilities for contraception are rooted in cultural discourses, such as the assumption that women are more concerned to avoid pregnancy, and that it is difficult to develop contraceptives for men. Therefore, new male contraceptives might extend the possibilities for men to be involved in contraception – but our gendered ideas of, for example risk, might not change just because new contraceptives become available.

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