Gender, masculinity and migration: Mexican men and reproductive health in the Californian context

M. Catherine Maternowska, Mellissa Withers*, Claire Brindis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An appreciation of the social, cultural and economic dimensions of gender and sexuality is important in increasing reproductive health service utilisation. This analysis of recent Mexican male immigrants in Southern California focuses on changing views of gender roles, masculinity and relationship dynamics in the context of migration in order to explain low levels of reproductive healthcare utilisation. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 men who had migrated from Mexico. Some men saw their migratory experience as empowering, both individually and within the couple context. Migration reinforced positive male qualities, such as being a good provider. However, for others, the levelling of economic power between immigrant couples challenged traditional male gender roles and threatened men's identities. Maintaining control and decision-making power, especially in reproduction, remained tenacious, especially among older men. In response to immigration, however, men's views of ideal family size and contraceptive method preferences had evolved. The migration process caused some divisions in family networks and aspirations of fatherhood as an expression of masculinity contributed to varying levels of contraceptive use. Recommendations are made on factors that may empower male clients more actively to seek reproductive healthcare in the context of more equitable couple decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1002
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • California
  • healthcare utilisation
  • Mexican men
  • migrants
  • reproductive health


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