Masculinities, sexuality and contraceptive practices in Lithuania

Vaida Tretjakova, Vilnius University

The aim of this study is to reveal the underlying mechanisms behind childbearing decisions and the choice of contraceptive methods to meet them by bringing in the men’s perspective. Demographic studies on contraceptive behavior have almost exclusively concentrated on women, mostly because of the assumption that they possess the most accurate information on this subject. At the same time, however, understanding of the importance of men’s roles and their influence on childbearing decisions and, consequently, on contraceptive behavior has been growing in scientific literature. The prevailing explanations of contraceptive behavior rely on the framework of rational behavior and assume progressive linear transition from the use of the so called “traditional” methods to “modern” ones. Lithuania in that respect serves as an interesting case study, since even though family transformation processes associated with the second demographic transition are clearly visible, the “modern mode” of contraceptive behavior has not yet been established. Based on 35 in-depth semi-structured interviews with 18-34 year old childless Lithuanian men the interconnections of contraceptive practices, gender relations, discourses of masculinity and sexuality are analyzed. Preliminary results of the study indicate the need to reconsider the dominant explanations of contraceptive behavior and their adaptability to specific social settings. The research for this presentation was supported by the Lithuanian Science Council within the project “Procreational Identities of Young Men: Cultural Norms, Individual Expectations and Experiences” (No. MIP 005/2013).

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Presented in Session 11: Gender, sexuality and reproductive health