Journal Article

Masculinities and young men's sex education needs in Ireland: problematizing client-centred health promotion approaches

Abbey Hyde, Etaoine Howlett, Jonathan Drennan and Dympna Brady

in Health Promotion International

Volume 20, issue 4, pages 334-341
Published in print December 2005 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dai021
Masculinities and young men's sex education needs in Ireland: problematizing client-centred health promotion approaches

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In recent decades, dominant discourses in health promotion have emphasized empowerment, client participation and the notion of people identifying and being facilitated to meet their own health needs. However, there has been little analysis of the concept of ‘need’ and the possibility, at least, that the fulfilment of some such self-defined needs are not in the interest of social justice and equality. In this article, we present an account of the sex education needs of secondary school pupils from their own perspectives, and problematize the concept of self-identified needs in health education. Twenty-nine focus group interviews were conducted with 226 secondary school pupils in Ireland, and data were subjected to a qualitative analysis. Findings suggested that young men tended to prioritize practical guidance that would provide them with the skills and confidence to take the lead in sexual encounters, and display competence in the act of penetrative sex. We argue that these self-defined sex education needs emanate from a culture of traditional masculinity where, for a male, one's place in the pecking order is derived from one's capacity to conquer, lead and display mastery with regard to sex. In the discussion, we attempt to unpack the notion of clients identifying their own needs and the concept of empowerment as it relates to our data, in the context of gender-based structural inequalities.

Keywords: sex education; masculinities; client-centred approach

Journal Article.  4270 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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