Perspectives on masculinity and contraceptive behavior across Europe

Rozemarijn Dereuddre, Ghent University
Piet Bracke, Ghent University

Policy programs, reproductive health services as well as research primarily focus on contraception as a female sphere of influence. However, men’s characteristics, preferences and their participation in the reproductive domain proved to be equally important. Two divergent trends in male contraceptive method use can be observed across Europe. On the one hand, men in Western Europe seem to associate engagement in the contraceptive domain as a threat to their masculinity. On the other hand, men in Central and Eastern Europe perceive this engagement rather as a source of masculinity. This study aims to elaborate on the complex intertwinements between gendered norms, both from his and her point of view, and contraceptive use. Data from the Generations and Gender Survey for five WE and eight CEE countries are used to test the hypotheses separately for each country, and separately for men and women. Preliminary results indicate that people who display more traditional gender norms are more likely to rely on traditional female methods instead of male methods in multiple CEE countries, and to practice female sterilization rather than male in Belgium. Two varying patterns are found for reversible contraceptives. Men and women with more traditional values are more likely to rely on reversible female contraceptives in WE whereas they are more likely to use reversible male methods in several CEE countries. Additional analyses are needed to further explore the complex dynamics that are at play, both between and within the WE and CEE region.

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Presented in Session 96: Gender issues in sexual and reproductive health