CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Withdrawal has been little studied in French social science research on contraception. Yet, nearly half of all individuals have already used it during their lifetime. This article aims to provide information on the modalities of contemporary use of withdrawal and to examine the way in which this practice, which goes beyond the medical norm, is embedded in intimate norms (especially gender and sexual norms), which it can recompose. It is based on a corpus of 54 interviews on contraceptive and sexual life, as well as on the Fecond 2010 and 2013 surveys (Inserm/Ined). The article shows that recourse to withdrawal may result either from the impossibility of using medical contraception, or from a choice to avoid such contraception, for example following side effects attributed to synthetic hormones. It can also be used to allow a better distribution of contraceptive work within the couple. When the method is used, the article highlights that it involves a sexual technique that can be considered as constitutive of masculinity but also that it is part of a “sexual script” that it disrupts. That it is ultimately the fact of succeeding in obtaining pleasure with this method that explains the persistence or not of its use. Thus, the article highlights the need to go beyond a purely medical analysis of this practice, in favor of an attention to the intimate norms that surround it and that it brings into play for people.

  • withdrawal
  • contraception
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • norms
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