INTRODUCTION In the last five decades, the United States has seen a change in the work force population. Female co-workers have become the norm in just about every career imaginable. They are doctors, lawyers, pilots, professors, and even Generals in the United Sates Army, yet they are expected to maintain a perfect balance between career and family life. This dual role as mentioned by Kelly (1991) leads to a “lopsided division of familial responsibilities” that causes a lot of women to burn out. Marriages today spend a lot of time concentrating on the subject of equality. But in order to have equality, both male and female have to realize that there are inequalities in their marriage, and they must actively take part in changing them (Knudson-Martin & Mahoney, 1998). One of the main problem areas for career women are their offspring. Who will take care of the children when the mothers are at work? Most females have to depend either on child day-care, family members, friends, or neighbors (Kelly, 1991). A nontraditional answer to the issue of caring for the children would be to include the male figure as the alternate caregiver. Why does this idea seem so far fetched? The difficulty of changing established gender roles is the fear that the man might be compared to a homosexual (Williams, 1993). Some men view that sharing child rearing responsibility will make them less of a man. In a sense, this is caused by society and it’s established ideas of what makes a male masculine. To a certain extent, it has been easier for women to break the established gender roles on what is considered feminine than it has been for a man to behave contrary to what is considered masculine. One traditional feminine responsibility is that the responsibility for the methods of birth control used. This view pushes men away from partner equality and makes breaking traditional views of masculinity even harder. In some cultures, it is normal and even expected for the female to be responsible for birth control. For example a study on Haitian immigrants reported that the majority of males felt that the contraceptive accountability rested primarily on the female (DeSantis, Thomas, & Sinnett, 1999). Fortunately, as more women break the traditional stereotypes, more men have accommodated to the idea of depending on themselves for the methods of birth control used. Condoms have become the main method of birth control used by these nontraditional men that believe in sharing or being responsible for birth control. Past studies indicate that there are some traits in men that will promote condom use during intercourse. For example individuals that have career and educational plans are more likely to use condoms (Morrison, 1985). Meaning that they are actively involved in the birth control’s responsibility because they do not want the birth of an unplanned child to change the goals that they have set out for the future. While those with an uncertain future are more probable to attribute the results of their sexual acts on destiny, due to their uncertainty of the future. They have also found that a substantial family income and the males’ race has a small effect on the type of contraceptive method that is used (Morrison, 1985). For example, Hispanic and Asian males will have a more traditional gender role view because of their more conservative cultures. Morrison’s research review (1985) on contraceptive use shows that the methods used more often by males are condoms, withdrawal, and having their partner use birth control pills, but that there are some that choose not to use any preventive measures. For first intercourse experience the traditional techniques are withdrawal and condom use (Morrison, 1985). On the other hand, as the amount of sexual experience increased, males’ birth control methods passed from none, to condom use, and then toward the contraceptive pill (Pleck, Sonenstein, & Swain, 1988). One of the reasons why males move from condom use towards having the female use the contraceptive pill is because of existing stereotypes involving prophylactic use. Some of these stereotypes are that it interrupts sexual pleasure, and that the male has planned sex for the night instead of it being spontaneous because he is prepared by having a condom in his wallet. The problem with using the birth control pill as the primary means of contraception is that the responsibility of the method rests solely on the female. As more females choose to use oral contraceptives, males are less encouraged towards taking responsibility. In some occasions, the male may supply the female with the birth control pill, but she is still responsible to take it daily. Another outcome of to the contraceptive pill’s popularity is that “communication between men and women can be difficult, especially regarding condom use” (DeCarlo & Campbell, 1996). This means that some women use the contraceptive pill to avoid having to discuss methods of birth control with their partners. Where does one find the partner who is more inclined to cross gender roles and to share the family responsibilities? Unfortunately, there is no conclusive answer to this question. It is impossible to state as a fact that a person is going to behave in one matter or another. In this study we attempted to discover whether there is a relation between heterosexual males’ responsibility in birth control and their likelihood to involve themselves in nontraditional gender roles. By nontraditional, it’s meant that a male will participate in what is stereotyped as female gender roles. For example, taking responsibility for household chores like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children. These men will feel comfortable associating themselves with typical female characteristics like being yielding, cheerful, shy, affectionate, loyal, sensitive to others needs and other characteristics emphasized in the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. It is predicted that males that take birth control responsibilities on themselves through male contraceptives like condoms are more likely to be more open-minded towards nontraditional sex-roles. Thus, methods of birth control and opinions on who is responsible for the use of them were important in this study. Still, there was no past research that ties in together males’ birth control duty and their likelihood to perform typically female stereotyped tasks. This investigation would also showcase the fact that those men who take a backseat approach to birth control, probably because they feel that they are immune to the problem since they are not the ones that are going to get pregnant, will also have more traditional gender role attitudes. In this study it was hypothesized that if sexually active heterosexual males take an active role in birth control responsibilities through condom use, then they will more likely tend to be accepting of nontraditional gender roles. The main variables compared in this study were the birth control methods preferred and used by males and the males’ femininity score in the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Their femininity level was used to see how traditional or nontraditional their views are. This study hope to add new information to the subject by helping distinguish if there is a relation between males’ role in birth control and their views on nontraditional gender roles.
A total of 28 male college students from Loyola University New Orleans volunteered to participate. The minimum age to participate was 18 years. Any participant who was not sexually active or of homosexual orientation was dropped because the study focused on birth control and both groups have no need for it. “Sexually active” was defined as those who at least once in their lives had penetration with ejaculation. They were recruited from psychology classes, fraternity meetings, dorm common areas, and/or word of mouth at Loyola University’s campus. The students were found through convenience, quota, and snowball sampling. To the best of the investigator’s knowledge, the participants represented all racial/ethnic groups. All participants were treated ethically according to the APA standards.
Each survey package included a list of instructions, an informed consent form, and two questionnaires. The list of instructions told the participants what to do with the survey. For example to fold the survey in half once completed. The consent form also included a debriefing and the investigators’ contact information, counseling service contact, and the web page address were the results would be posted. No signature was asked in the consent form. The survey used consisted of demographic sheet, birth control responsibility questions, and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. The demographic sheet included questions about the participants like age, gender, ethnic background, and college level. The birth control survey included inquiries about their contraceptive methods used. For example what methods do they use, which method used did they prefer to use and which method was practiced most often? The Bem sex-role Inventory asked participants to rate themselves on 60 items on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 as never or almost never true and 7 as always or almost always true. Some of the items asked were self reliant, yielding, helpful, cheerful, moody, and independent. A copy of the survey packet is included in the appendix of this paper.
The design used was a non-experimental correlational design. It compared the variables of birth control methods and femininity score in the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. For the procedure, all participants were given a survey packet to fill out at a later time. Because of the personal nature of the questions there was no interaction between participant and researcher once the questionnaire was handed out to them and there was no need for signature in the informed consent form. Since there was no direct communication between the investigators and the participants, the survey included a list of instruction on what to do with the survey and the informed consent included a debriefing explaining the study. They were informed that the study included questions on birth control methods and gender roles and that it would take no longer than 15 to 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire, and were thanked for the participation in the investigation. The instructions said that the participants had to complete the survey in the next 48 hours, to fold the survey in half once it was completed, and to drop of the completed survey in the Campus Mail slot in the Danna Center. The Post Office sent the completed surveys to mail box # 921 where the investigators picked them up.
RESULTS A Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was used to see if there was any relationship between the variables investigated in the study. These variables were the birth control methods preferred and used by males, and the males’ femininity score on the Bem Sex-Role Inventory, to determine how nontraditional their views are. It was hypothesized that if sexually active heterosexual males took an active role in birth control responsibilities through condom use, then they would more likely tend to be accepting of nontraditional gender roles. In a sample of 28 participants it was found that the age was M = 20.1 (SD = 1.03). The mean for condom use was 3.07 (SD = 1.86) on a scale from zero through five, with zero representing that condoms are never used, and five for always using condoms. The mean for the femininity score in the Bem Sex-Role Inventory was 4.99 (SD = 0.57). The Pearson correlation between condom use and the femininity score was r (26) = .121, p = 0.27. Additional findings that did have statistical significance was the correlation between the male’s believing that they are responsible for birth control method used and their use of condoms most often; r (26) = .764, p < 0.001, as their preferred method; r (26) = .600, p < 0.001, and as the method used in their most recent sexual experience; r (26) = .596, p < 0.001.
DISCUSSION In this study it was hypothesized that if sexually active heterosexual males take an active role in birth control responsibilities through condom use, then they will more likely tend to be accepting of nontraditional gender roles. The main variables compared in this study are the birth control methods preferred and used by males and the males’ femininity score in the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Their femininity level is used to see how traditional or nontraditional their views are. The findings in this study did not support the original hypothesis that stated that there was a relationship between male’s contraceptive behavior and their views toward nontraditional gender roles. A possible reason why the hypothesis was not supported was that the sample was taken from college students. Past studies indicated that there are some traits in men that will promote condom use during intercourse. Morrison’s research review (1985) on contraceptive use shows that the methods used more often by males are condoms, withdrawal, and having their partner use birth control pills, and that individuals that have career and educational plans are more likely to use condoms. Meaning that they are actively involved in the birth control’s responsibility because they do not want the birth of an unplanned child to change the goals that they have set out for the future. Most college students, including those in the sample would have had an inclination towards condom use due to the reasons mentioned. This study was conducted to realize the increasing “lopsided division of familial responsibilities” (Kelly, 1991). This tied in with past studies that stated that if couples come into relationships with traditional gender expectations and with unequal monetary resources, they will consequently make it impossible to achieve equality in the relationship (Knudson-Martin & Mahoney, 1998). The unbalanced relationship would continue unless both partners changed their views over traditional gender roles. Still, there was no past research that tied in together males’ birth control patterns and their likelihood to perform typically female stereotyped tasks. Therefore we were found in uncharted territory that leaded to some limitations in the study. It is important to state that other possible reasons for the lack of support for the hypothesis were that the sample size was too small, the method of dropping off the completed survey in the Post Office provided a high mortality rate, and confusion to questions asked in the survey. Out of 150 survey that where handed out to participants, only 48 delivered the completed survey to the Post Office. Out of those 48, 11 had to be discarded because they did not have all the characteristic of the targeted population. Ten participants were not sexually active and one was also dismissed because of the participant’s sexual orientation. Nine other participants had to be excluded because they had not answered the survey properly. The small sample size threatened the external validity of the study. Improvements in future studies should include pursuing a large sample size, a recruiting strategy that includes contact with the experimenters to avoid a high participant mortality rate and to ensure that any questions or doubts involving the survey can be answered. For example, the participants could have thought that they had to be in a current sexual relationship to answer the survey. While other participants that were in a current sexual relationship, could have provided information about the methods they use with their current partner and not with all their past sexual partners, defying the study’s interest in the males’ general view towards birth control. The self made survey added some reliability issues. These factors threatened the internal validity of the study. A modification of the questions asked in the survey would provide more accuracy in understanding the patterns of the male’s contraceptive use. The altered survey could ask additional questions such as if they are currently involved in a relationship and the number of sexual partners that the participant had in their life. The Bem Sex-Role Inventory was a good tool in providing information of the participant’s nontraditional views but some of the items could have caused confusions for participants that did not speak English as a first language. In the future, the Bem Sex-Role Inventory could be translated in to the different languages spoken primarily by the participants. In conclusion, this study attempted to discover whether there was a relation between heterosexual males’ responsibility in birth control and their likelihood to involve themselves in nontraditional gender roles. Even though the original hypothesis was not supported, this study showed that there are some interesting underlying trends. Theoretical implications of the results did show a relation between male’s believing that they are responsible for birth control and their use of condoms most often, as their preferred method, and as the method used in their most recent sexual experience. These attitudes were different from past studies that indicated that males’ birth control methods passed from none, to condom use, and then toward the contraceptive pill (Pleck, Sonenstein, & Swain, 1988). Practical implications showed that there is a difference from other studies which stated that males believed that the birth control responsibility lie primarily on the female (DeSantis, Thomas, & Sinnett, 1999). For these reasons the study is important because it found that the views of birth control have passed from the female to both partners’ responsibility. The study provides direction from which to work from in the future. Prospective studies in this field should give more importance to what methods of contraceptives are being used by males and why they are so popular.
REFERENCESDeCarlo, P., & Campbell, C. (1996). How are heterosexual men reached in HIV prevention? Retrieved September 14, 2001, from http://www.caps.ecsf.edu/hetmentext.htmlDeSantis, L., Thomas, J. T., & Sinnett, K. (1999, April). Implications for community-based reproductive health care with Haitian immigrants. Public Health Nursing, 16, 102-113.Kelly, R. (1991). The gendered economy: Work, careers, and success. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications.Knudson-Martin, C., & Mahoney, A. R. (1998). Language and processes in construction of equality in new marriages. Family Relations, 47, 81-91.Morrison, D. M. (1985). Adolescent contraceptive behavior: a review. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 538-568.Pleck, J. H., Sonenstein, F. L., & Swain, S. O. (1988). Adolescent males’ sexual behavior and contraceptive use: implication for male responsibility. Journal of Adolescent Research, 3, 275-284.Williams, C. L. (1993). Doing “women’s work”: men in nontraditional occupations. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications.
APPENDIXSurveyPlease take 15 minutes to provide us with the following information about yourself: Do not include your name anywhere in the survey.1. Age —————years2. Sex (Circle one): M F3. Ethnic Background (Circle one): White African American Hispanic Asian Other_______________4. Year (Circle one): FR SO JR SR Other_________________ 5. Have you had sexual intercourse? [Penetration w/ejaculation] (Circle one): Yes No (If answered no, please skip to next page) 6. What is your sexual orientation? (Circle one): Heterosexual Homosexual Bisexual7. Do you and/or your partner use any method of birth control? (Circle one): Yes No8. What methods of birth control do you use? (pick all that apply): Condoms Diaphragms/female condoms Ejaculation withdrawalFemale birth control pill Rhythm None Other__________________9. What method of birth control do you use MOST often? (Circle one): Condoms Diaphragms/female condoms Ejaculation withdrawalFemale birth control pill Rhythm None Other__________________10. Which method of birth control do you PREFER to use? (Circle one): Condoms Diaphragms/female condoms Ejaculation withdrawalFemale birth control pill Rhythm None Other__________________
11. What method of birth control did you use in your most recent sexual encounter? (Circle one): Condoms Diaphragms/female condoms Ejaculation withdrawalFemale birth control pill Rhythm None Other__________________12. Who is responsible for the birth control method used? (Circle one): Male FemaleRate yourself on each item, on a scale form 1 (never or almost never true) to 7 (always or almost always true).1. Self-reliant 1 2 3 4 5 6 72. Yielding 1 2 3 4 5 6 73. Helpful 1 2 3 4 5 6 74. Defends own beliefs 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. Cheerful 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6. Moody 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 7. Independent 1 2 3 4 5 6 78. Shy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9. Conscientious 1 2 3 4 5 6 710. Athletic 1 2 3 4 5 6 711. Affectionate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12. Theatrical 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13. Assertive 1 2 3 4 5 6 714. Flatterable 1 2 3 4 5 6 715. Happy 1 2 3 4 5 6 716. Strong personality 1 2 3 4 5 6 717. Loyal 1 2 3 4 5 6 718. Unpredictable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19. Forceful 1 2 3 4 5 6 720. Feminine 1 2 3 4 5 6 721. Reliable 1 2 3 4 5 6 722. Analytical 1 2 3 4 5 6 723. Sympathetic 1 2 3 4 5 6 724. Jealous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 25. Has leadership abilities 1 2 3 4 5 6 726. Sensitive to the need of others 1 2 3 4 5 6 727. Truthful 1 2 3 4 5 6 728. Willing to take risks 1 2 3 4 5 6 729. Understanding 1 2 3 4 5 6 730. Secretive 1 2 3 4 5 6 731. Makes decisions easily 1 2 3 4 5 6 732. Compassionate 1 2 3 4 5 6 733. Sincere 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 34. Self-sufficient 1 2 3 4 5 6 735. Eager to smooth hurt feelings 1 2 3 4 5 6 736. Conceited 1 2 3 4 5 6 737. Dominant 1 2 3 4 5 6 738. Soft-spoken 1 2 3 4 5 6 739. Likable 1 2 3 4 5 6 740. Masculine 1 2 3 4 5 6 741. Warm 1 2 3 4 5 6 742. Solemn 1 2 3 4 5 6 743. Willing to take a stand 1 2 3 4 5 6 744. Tender 1 2 3 4 5 6 745. Friendly 1 2 3 4 5 6 746. Aggressive 1 2 3 4 5 6 747. Gullible 1 2 3 4 5 6 748. Inefficient 1 2 3 4 5 6 749. Acts as a leader 1 2 3 4 5 6 750. Childlike 1 2 3 4 5 6 751. Adaptable 1 2 3 4 5 6 752. Individualistic 1 2 3 4 5 6 753. Does not use harsh language 1 2 3 4 5 6 754. Unsystematic 1 2 3 4 5 6 755. Competitive 1 2 3 4 5 6 756. Loves Children 1 2 3 4 5 6 757. Tactful 1 2 3 4 5 6 758. Ambitious 1 2 3 4 5 6 759. Gentle 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 60. Conventional 1 2 3 4 5 6 7