Melbourne School of Population and Global Health - Research Publications

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    Saviours and satyrs: ambivalence in narrative meanings of sperm provision
    KIRKMAN, MAGGIE (Taylor & Francis, 2004)
    This paper reports on the complex representations of sperm providers in the narratives of donors, recipients and offspring involved in donor-assisted conception. Eighty-seven volunteers from Australia, Canada, UK, USA and Argentina participated in qualitative narrative research. Sperm provision was perceived to be publicly represented as sexualised, provoking both disgust and hilarity; this is interpreted as arising from its association with masturbation and the metaphorical representation of the donor sperm as cuckolding the recipient's husband. Recipients' representations of providers were found to mix gratitude with resentment, embarassment, and anxiety; their constructions are strongly influenced by the position of the social father. The complex representation of the provider as a genetic father is considered: providers can be seen as threatening the integrity of parents if they become involved in the life of their offspring and abandoning their offspring to confusion and despair if they do not. The research demonstrates that, in spite of its relative frequency and familiarity, donor insemination is still represented ambivalently, including by those who may be said to benefit from it.
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    Women’s contraceptive decision-making: juggling the needs of the sexual body and the fertile body
    Keogh, Louise A. (The Haworth Press, Inc., 2005)
    The contradictions faced by women in the area of fertility management justify an in-depth qualitative study of contraceptive use. The experience of needing emergency contraception (EC) is an opportunity to study decision-making about fertility management. Thirty two in-depth interviews were conducted with users of EC recruited in Melbourne, Australia. Women were juggling the needs of the sexual body and the fertile body. The sexual body was expected to be available in women’s relationships, and the fertile body required protection from pregnancy in the present and preservation for the future. The needs of these two bodies were very often in conflict and women chose to resolve this conflict in subtly different ways; three strategies were identified. Some women chose to make sexual availability and security from pregnancy a priority; others felt forced to sacrifice sexual availability and security from pregnancy; and a final group chose to make the protection of the fertile body for the future a priority. This study provides a starting point for developing a context-based, woman-centered understanding of the experience of fertility management for women in developed countries.