Young women and limits to the normalisation of condom use: a qualitative study
ABSTRACT Encouraging condom use among young women is a major focus of HIV/STI prevention efforts but the degree to which they see themselves as being at risk limits their use of the method. In this paper, we examine the extent to which condom use has become normalised among young women. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 year old women from eastern Scotland (N=20). Purposive sampling was used to select a heterogeneous group with different levels of sexual experience and from different social backgrounds. All of the interviewees had used (male) condoms but only three reported consistent use. The rest had changed to other methods, most often the pill, though they typically went back to using condoms occasionally. Condoms were talked about as the most readily available contraceptive method, and were most often the first contraceptive method used. The young women had ingrained expectations of use, but for most, these norms centred only on their new or casual partners, with whom not using condoms was thought to be irresponsible. Many reported negative experiences with condoms, and condom dislike and failure were common, lessening trust in the method. Although the sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention provided by condoms was important, this was seen as additional, and secondary, to pregnancy prevention. As the perceived risks of STIs lessened in relationships with boyfriends, so did condom use. The promotion of condoms for STI prevention alone fails to consider the wider influences of partners and young women's negative experiences of the method. Focusing on the development of condom negotiation skills alone will not address these issues. Interventions to counter dislike, method failure, and the limits of the normalisation of condom use should be included in STI prevention efforts.
SourceAvailable from: Britta Wigginton[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The oral contraceptive pill remains the most widely used contraceptive method. We consider The Pill’s depiction as variously revolutionary and liberating, oppressive for women, and more recently, a ‘lifestyle drug’. Drawing on discourses of (hetero)sex, heterosexuality and gender performance, we discuss how contraceptive use has been feminised and consider the current gap in understanding how women negotiate their positioning as responsible for contraception. To begin to fill this gap, we conducted a thematic discourse analysis using 75 free-text responses (to a general question in a wider contraceptive survey) to explore how women account for their agency and responsibility in discussions of accessing contraception. We identified two themes: responsibility for education and information and ‘finding contraceptive fit’. Women’s discussions of responsibility for education and information highlight the need for transparency from educational bodies, which are positioned as lacking in their delivery of contraceptive information. Women describe ‘finding contraceptive fit’ as an embodied process of experimentation with contraception to ultimately find one with minimal negative side effects. We situate our findings within critiques of the gendered nature and production of health, conceptualising contraceptive use as a distinctly feminine practice, which promotes self-surveillance and embodied awareness.Feminism & Psychology 12/2014; DOI:10.1177/0959353514562802 · 0.58 Impact Factor
Contraception 07/2014; 90(1). DOI:10.1016/j.contraception.2014.02.029 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Much research suggests that attitudes towards responsibility for use of contraception amongst young people are strongly gendered. However, decision making, if 'decisions' happen at all, is bound up with notions of hegemonic masculine and feminine roles as well as factors concerning relationship status. Data from two earlier qualitative studies were re-analysed with an emphasis on findings related to gender and responsibility for use of contraception. The first study investigated unintended conceptions amongst 16-20-year-old women. Interviews focused on knowledge and views about contraception, sex education and sexual health services. The second study involved focus groups with two groups of 14-18-year-old men to explore their views on sex education, sexual health and contraception. Almost all the young women said that young men viewed contraception as 'not their job'. In contrast, the young men thought that responsibility should be shared. The key issue, however, related to relationship status, with decision-making being shared in long-term relationships. There are some gender differences in accounting for decisions about use of contraception, however the key issue revolves around relationship status.Culture Health & Sexuality 10/2014; 17(3):1-14. DOI:10.1080/13691058.2014.950983 · 1.55 Impact Factor