“Having a Child Meant I had a Real Life”: Reproductive Coercion and Childbearing Motivations Among Young Black Men Living in Baltimore

Kamila A Alexander, Renata Arrington Sanders, Karen Trister Grace, Roland J Thorpe, Elizabeth Doro, Lisa Bowleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite disproportionate health outcome disparities experienced by Black women, reproductive coercion (RC), a range of behaviors to promote unwanted pregnancy and childbearing motivations among poor young Black men are underexamined in current empirical literature. We aimed to describe perceptions of RC behaviors and childbearing motivations among poor young Black men in Baltimore City. We recruited a convenience sample of young Black men aged 18 to 25 (N = 25). Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and demographic surveys. Thematic analysis was guided by Miller’s Traits-Desires-Intentions-Behaviors (TDIB) framework. According to survey data (N = 23), mean age was 22 (2.1). Majority of participants reported sexual relationships with one person (74%; n = 17), almost half (48%; n = 12) were biological fathers, and six (26%) participants reported using RC toward an intimate partner; three (13%) reported experiencing RC behaviors from a female partner. According to qualitative interviews (N = 25), participants described perceived women-partner motivations for RC as entrapment. Childbearing motivations were influenced by (a) legacies and bonding and (b) escaping/correcting the past. Childbearing desires included (a) love feelings and intimacy and (b) good father. Childbearing intentions included (a) resistance to medical interventions and (b) preparation. Perceptions of RC and childbearing motivations reflected desires from participants to fulfill cultural expectations for conventional masculinity and enhance personal dreams for fatherhood. Although some perceptions and behavior patterns aligned with previous studies, RC was relatively rare in this sample. Findings demonstrated nuanced antithesis to stereotypical notions of young Black men and fatherhood. Provision of reproductive care for young men and their sexual partners should include discussions about RC, pregnancy motivations, and healthy sexual communication strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • adolescent victims
  • cultural contexts
  • domestic violence
  • sexual assault
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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