‘I trap her with a CD, then tomorrow find her with a big old man who bought her a smart phone’. Constructions of masculinities and transactional sex: a qualitative study from North-Western Tanzania

Lottie Howard-Merrill, Joyce Wamoyi, Daniel Nyato, Nambusi Kyegombe, Lori Heise, Ana Maria Buller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Men’s role in transactional sex is relatively unexplored, limiting initiatives to prevent exploitative transactional sex and its negative health implications for girls and women. We addressed this literature gap by conducting eight focus group discussions and twenty in-depth-interviews with boys and men aged 14 − 49 years in 2015 in Tanzania. We employed a novel combination of theoretical perspectives–gender and masculinities, and social norms–to understand how transactional sex participation contributes to perpetuating gendered hierarchies, and how reference groups influence men’s behaviour. Findings signal two gender norms that men display within transactional sex: the expectation of men’s provision in sexual relationships, and the expectation that men should exhibit heightened sexuality and sexual prowess. Adherence to these expectations in transactional sex relationships varied between older and younger men and created hierarchies among men and between men and women and girls. We found that approval of transactional sex was contested. Although young men were likely to object to transactional sex, they occupied a structurally weaker position than older men. Findings suggest that interventions should employ gender synchronised and gender transformative approaches and should prioritise the promotion of alternative positive norms over preventing the exchange of gifts or money in relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Transactional sex
  • hegemonic masculinity
  • homosociality
  • sexual exploitation
  • social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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