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Tulane University

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy

Abstract

Although the South African National Department of Health (NDOH) is spending increasing amounts of money on improving their HIV programs (including the rollout of new, scented condoms for their condom distribution program), the rates of condom use at last sexual encounter are declining. This inquiry focused on young women in the neighborhood of Masxha, Cato Manor, and their opinions surrounding how condoms are being used or misused, as well as the gender norms that perpetrate this (mis)use. This inquiry demonstrated the narratives of these young women on factors such as condom acquisition, gendered stigma, and condom education, including the Life Orientation curriculum, ultimately leading to condom negotiation, a critical skill for condom use.

This inquiry was grounded in a narrative methodology approach to gain authenticity of opinions and lived reality for these young women. Using the principle that content and form are intrinsically connected, this inquiry examined how the opinions and narratives of these individuals are connected to emotion and experience, which influence knowledge and opinion. I conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with eight women in Masxha to hear these stories and opinions. These women described their opinions about several factors surrounding gendered condom use, and lived experiences shed light on these factors.

Exploring condom use in this community ultimately led to perceiving the factors of condom use as an uphill journey for these young women. The gender and sexuality norms that perpetuate difficulties in condom use for these young women represent the gravel path these women hike on their trek. The stigma that these women face for condom acquisition and use embodies a flowing stream that intersects the pebbled path of gender norms. Condom preference, such as brand preference, is the large, scattered boulders that follow the path up the hill. Education signifies a form of refuge for these women, offering solace and positive perceptions of condom users, aiding these women in the final stretch of their journey. Finally, condom negotiation represents the summit—the peak of the expedition—where the factors the women experienced throughout the climb culminates into a decision for or against condom use.

Disciplines

African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Health and Physical Education | Health Policy | Health Psychology | Infectious Disease | Public Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Health | Women's Studies

 

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