Research Repository

Conflicting Contraceptive Norms for Men: Equal Responsibility versus Women’s Bodily Autonomy

James-Hawkins, Laurie and Dalessandro, Cristen and Sennott, Christie (2019) 'Conflicting Contraceptive Norms for Men: Equal Responsibility versus Women’s Bodily Autonomy.' Culture, Health and Sexuality, 21 (3). 263 - 277. ISSN 1369-1058

TCHS-2017-0333.R3 Final Accepted Version.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (204kB) | Preview


Most research investigating how men and women in heterosexual relationships negotiate contraceptive use focuses on the women’s point of view. Using a sample of 44 interviews with men attending a western US university, this study examines norms governing men’s participation in contraceptive use and pregnancy prevention and their responses to those norms. We demonstrate how competing norms around sexual health decision-making and women’s bodily autonomy contribute to unintended outcomes that undermine young people’s quest for egalitarian sexual relationships. While men largely agree that responsibility for sexual health decision-making should be shared with women, they also believe that women should have power over their own bodies and sexual health. However, the coexistence of these two competing norms—which call for both equal responsibility in decision-making and women’s bodily autonomy—results in a disconnect between men saying that sexual health decision-making should be equal, but not always participating equally. Thus, men largely give contraceptive decision-making power over to women, putting the burden of pregnancy prevention on women and letting men off the hook. We conclude that men’s negotiation of these competing norms reinforces unequal power and inequality in sexual relationships.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: social norms, contraceptive use, masculinity, college students, USA
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2018 15:01
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2020 11:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item