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


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.

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