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      ‘Expanding your mind’: the process of constructing gender-equitable masculinities in young Nicaraguan men participating in reproductive health or gender training programs

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          Abstract

          Background

          Traditional forms of masculinity strongly influence men's and women's wellbeing.

          Objective

          This study has two aims: (i) to explore notions of various forms of masculinities in young Nicaraguan men participating in programs addressing sexual health, reproductive health, and/or gender equality and (ii) to find out how these young men perceive their involvement in actions aimed at reducing violence against women (VAW).

          Design

          A qualitative grounded theory study. Data were collected through six focus groups and two in-depth interviews with altogether 62 young men.

          Results

          Our analysis showed that the informants experienced a process of change, labeled ‘Expanding your mind’, in which we identified four interrelated subcategories: The apprentice, The responsible/respectful man, The proactive peer educator, and ‘The feminist man’. The process showed how an increased awareness of gender inequities facilitated the emergence of values (respect and responsibility) and behavior (thoughtful action) that contributed to increase the informant's critical thinking and agency at individual, social, and political levels. The process was influenced by individual and external factors.

          Conclusions

          Multiple progressive masculinities can emerge from programs challenging patriarchy in this Latin American setting. The masculinities identified in this study show a range of attitudes and behaviors; however, all lean toward more equitable gender relations. The results suggest that learning about sexual and reproductive health does not directly imply developing more gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors or a greater willingness to prevent VAW. It is paramount that interventions to challenge machismo in this setting continue and are expanded to reach more young men.

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          Most cited references76

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          The Discovery of Grounded Theory

          <p>Most writing on sociological method has been concerned with how accurate facts can be obtained and how theory can thereby be more rigorously tested. In The Discovery of Grounded Theory, Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss address the equally Important enterprise of how the discovery of theory from data--systematically obtained and analyzed in social research--can be furthered. The discovery of theory from data--grounded theory--is a major task confronting sociology, for such a theory fits empirical situations, and is understandable to sociologists and laymen alike. Most important, it provides relevant predictions, explanations, interpretations, and applications.</p><p>In Part I of the book, Generation Theory by Comparative Analysis, the authors present a strategy whereby sociologists can facilitate the discovery of grounded theory, both substantive and formal. This strategy involves the systematic choice and study of several comparison groups. In Part II, The Flexible Use of Data, the generation of theory from qualitative, especially documentary, and quantitative data Is considered. In Part III, Implications of Grounded Theory, Glaser and Strauss examine the credibility of grounded theory.</p><p>The Discovery of Grounded Theory is directed toward improving social scientists' capacity for generating theory that will be relevant to their research. While aimed primarily at sociologists, it will be useful to anyone Interested In studying social phenomena--political, educational, economic, industrial-- especially If their studies are based on qualitative data.</p></p>
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            Health consequences of intimate partner violence.

            Intimate partner violence, which describes physical or sexual assault, or both, of a spouse or sexual intimate, is a common health-care issue. In this article, I have reviewed research on the mental and physical health sequelae of such violence. Increased health problems such as injury, chronic pain, gastrointestinal, and gynaecological signs including sexually-transmitted diseases, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are well documented by controlled research in abused women in various settings. Intimate partner violence has been noted in 3-13% of pregnancies in many studies from around the world, and is associated with detrimental outcomes to mothers and infants. I recommend increased assessment and interventions for intimate partner violence in health-care settings.
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              Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health.

              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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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Glob Health Action
                Glob Health Action
                GHA
                Global Health Action
                Co-Action Publishing
                1654-9716
                1654-9880
                02 August 2012
                2012
                : 5
                : 10.3402/gha.v5i0.17262
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Center for Demography and Health Research, Nicaraguan National Autonomous University, León, Nicaragua
                [2 ]Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
                [3 ]Umeå Center for Gender Studies, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
                Author notes
                [* ] Virgilio Mariano Salazar Torres, Epidemiology and Global Health, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden. Fax: 46 90 13 89 77. Email: mariano.salazar@ 123456epiph.umu.se
                Article
                GHA-5-17262
                10.3402/gha.v5i0.17262
                3412571
                22870066
                c522b0eb-0c4d-4054-8993-c85d11f8bbb8
                © 2012 Virgilio Mariano Salazar Torres et al.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 25 January 2012
                : 24 June 2012
                : 05 July 2012
                Categories
                Cluster: Gender and Health

                Health & Social care
                grounded theory,masculinity,young men,change,nicaragua,gender
                Health & Social care
                grounded theory, masculinity, young men, change, nicaragua, gender

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