“The problem is the vast production of sperm”: conceptions of body in the field of male contraception

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DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-12902019180797

Keywords:

Contraception, Male Contraceptive Devices, Gender, Body, Technology

Abstract

Since the late 1960s, attempts have been made to produce a reversible male contraceptive with efficacy equivalent to that of the contraceptive pill. To date, this product has not been launched and the justificationsforthisarebasedonpolitical,economic, cultural and biological barriers. The argument of a physiological obstacle has a lot of prominence in these explanations and will be our focus in this article. From the perspective of gender and science studies, we aim to understand how this argument appears incurrent efforts topromote this technology by a prominent actor in the field, the US NGO Male ContraceptionInitiative(MCI).Byusingthedocument analysis technique andthemethodology ofdiscourse analysis, we aim to understand how the male body is represented and, thus, how it is materialized in this process of developing a “male pill”, and to discuss the gendered character of biomedical conceptions and interventions in the field of contraception. We observed thatthe reproductive function of cisgender men is constructed as complex and, in a sense, as resistant to pharmacological interventions. Such characterizationoccursincomparisonwiththefemale cisgender body, which is seen as more accessible for contraception. The traditional association between women and reproduction and men and sex is easily recognized in these perspectives.Since the late 1960s, attempts have been made to produce a reversible male contraceptive with efficacy equivalent to that of the contraceptive pill. To date, this product has not been launched and the justificationsforthisarebasedonpolitical,economic, cultural and biological barriers. The argument of a physiological obstacle has a lot of prominence in these explanations and will be our focus in this article. From the perspective of gender and science studies, we aim to understand how this argument appears incurrent efforts topromote this technology by a prominent actor in the field, the US NGO Male ContraceptionInitiative(MCI).Byusingthedocument analysis technique andthemethodology ofdiscourse analysis, we aim to understand how the male body is represented and, thus, how it is materialized in this process of developing a “male pill”, and to discuss the gendered character of biomedical conceptions and interventions in the field of contraception. We observed thatthe reproductive function of cisgender men is constructed as complex and, in a sense, as resistant to pharmacological interventions. Such characterizationoccursincomparisonwiththefemale cisgender body, which is seen as more accessible for contraception. The traditional association between women and reproduction and men and sex is easily recognized in these perspectives.

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Published

2019-07-29

How to Cite

Pereira, G. M. C., & Azize, R. L. (2019). “The problem is the vast production of sperm”: conceptions of body in the field of male contraception. Saúde E Sociedade, 28(2), 147-159. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-12902019180797

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Articles