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      Conflicting discourses of church youths on masculinity and sexuality in the context of HIV in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

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          Abstract

          Masculinity studies are fairly new and young churchgoers are an under-researched group in the current Congolese church context. In response to this knowledge gap, this paper attempts to explore discourses of young churchgoers from deprived areas of Kinshasa regarding masculinity and sexuality in the era of HIV. A series of 16 semi-structured interviews were conducted with unmarried young churchgoers from the Salvation Army, Protestant and Revival churches. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using discourse analysis. Five main discourses emerged: ‘we are aware of the church message on sex’, ‘young men need sex’, ‘young women need money’, ‘to use or not to use condoms’ and ‘we trust in the church message’. Although all informants knew and heard church messages against premarital sex, many of them were sexually active. The perception was that young men were engaged in sexual activities with multiple partners as a result of sexual motivations surrounding masculinity and sexual potency, while young women sought multiple partners through transactional and intergenerational sex for economic reasons. These sexual practices of young people conflicted with church messages on sexual abstinence and faithfulness. However, a small number of participants challenged current gender norms and suggested alternative ways of being a man or a woman. To elucidate these alternatives, we suggest that church youths and church leaders might take concrete actions to deconstruct misconceptions about being men. In this way, they can possibly enhance a frank and fruitful dialogue on sex, sexuality and gender to promote positive masculinities and constructive partnerships to prevent HIV.

          Résumé

          Dans le contexte actuel des églises Congolaises, les études relatives à la masculinité sont presque récentes et les jeunes chrétiens constituent un groupe d'individus qui ne font pas l'objet des recherches scientifiques approfondies. En réponse à cette insuffisance de connaissances dans le contexte à VIH, le présent article tente d'explorer les discours relatifs à la masculinité et à la sexualité des jeunes chrétiens issus des quartiers défavorisés de Kinshasa. Une série de 16 interviews semi-structurées ont été menés auprès des jeunes chrétiens célibataires appartenant à l'Armée du Salut, aux églises Protestantes et à celles du Réveil du Congo. Les interviews ont été enregistrées et analysées en utilisant la méthode du discours. Cinq discours ont émergé notamment: « Nous connaissons le message des églises au sujet du sexe », « les garçons ont besoin des rapports sexuels », « les filles ont besoin d'argent », « faudrait-il utiliser ou ne pas utiliser les condoms » et « nous croyons dans le message des églises ». Alors que tous les participants connaissaient le message des églises qui interdisent les rapports sexuels prémaritaux, beaucoup d'entre eux étaient déjà sexuellement actifs. Les garçons ont été perçus comme des personnes qui ont des rapports sexuels avec plusieurs partenaires concomitants pour prouver leur masculinité et leur puissance sexuelle. Les filles chercheraient à avoir des rapports sexuels mercantiles et intergénérationnels avec des partenaires multiples à des fins économiques. Ces pratiques sexuelles des jeunes s'opposent aux discours des églises qui promeuvent l'abstinence sexuelle et la fidélité. Cependant, quelques participants ont remis en cause les normes courantes du genre et ont suggéré des alternatives en ce qui concerne l'identité des hommes et des femmes. Pour les élucider, nous proposons que les jeunes chrétiens et les leaders des églises puissent mener des actions concrètes dans le but de déconstruire les conceptions erronées de ce que veut dire être homme. Ce faisant, ils peuvent probablement maximiser les chances d'un dialogue franc et productif en ce qui concerne le sexe, la sexualité et le genre afin de promouvoir la masculinité positive et le partenariat constructif, susceptibles de prévenir l'infection à VIH.

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          Most cited references 73

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          Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health.

           W H Courtenay (2000)
          Men in the United States suffer more severe chronic conditions, have higher death rates for all 15 leading causes of death, and die nearly 7 yr younger than women. Health-related beliefs and behaviours are important contributors to these differences. Men in the United States are more likely than women to adopt beliefs and behaviours that increase their risks, and are less likely to engage in behaviours that are linked with health and longevity. In an attempt to explain these differences, this paper proposes a relational theory of men's health from a social constructionist and feminist perspective. It suggests that health-related beliefs and behaviours, like other social practices that women and men engage in, are a means for demonstrating femininities and masculinities. In examining constructions of masculinity and health within a relational context, this theory proposes that health behaviours are used in daily interactions in the social structuring of gender and power. It further proposes that the social practices that undermine men's health are often signifiers of masculinity and instruments that men use in the negotiation of social power and status. This paper explores how factors such as ethnicity, economic status, educational level, sexual orientation and social context influence the kind of masculinity that men construct and contribute to differential health risks among men in the United States. It also examines how masculinity and health are constructed in relation to femininities and to institutional structures, such as the health care system. Finally, it explores how social and institutional structures help to sustain and reproduce men's health risks and the social construction of men as the stronger sex.
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            Masculinities

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                SAHARA J
                SAHARA J
                RSAH
                rsah20
                Sahara J
                Routledge
                1729-0376
                1813-4424
                2 January 2014
                7 July 2014
                : 11
                : 1
                : 84-93
                Affiliations
                [ a ](RN, MPH, PhD student) is the Central Africa Regional Coordinator of the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA), World Council of Churches , Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
                [ b ]Department of Nursing, Umeå University , Umeå, Sweden
                [ c ]Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University , Umeå, Sweden
                [ d ](MD, PhD) is associate Professor at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University , Umeå, Sweden
                [ e ](PhD, MPH, RNM) is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Nursing, Umeå University , Umeå, Sweden
                [ f ](PhD) is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology, Umeå University , Umeå, Sweden
                [ g ](PhD, MPH, RNM) is Senior Lecturer both at the Department of Nursing, Umeå University and at the Deparment of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Umeå University , Sweden
                Author notes
                Article
                930695
                10.1080/17290376.2014.930695
                4272190
                25000272
                © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 72, Pages: 10
                Product
                Categories
                Special topic on: HIV and Faith

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