The heterosexuality. Hollway (1989) acknowledged three competing

The term heterosexuality can be
defined as an aspect of social structure, a sexual identity, or sexual
practices leading to confusion about the utility of ‘heterosexuality’ as an
analytical concept (Jackson, 1999; Richardson, 1996; Smart, 1996). Jackson has
argued that sexuality is an ongoing embodied process which develops throughout
our lives; through a process of ‘active learning’ (1999: 25). A wide range of
contraception is available to women in developed countries where contraceptive
use is common among young heterosexual women of reproductive age (Newman et
al., 2011). Available forms of female contraception include vaginal rings,
intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, injectables, a range of oral
contraceptive pills and emergency contraception (Lucke, Watson, & Herbert,
2009). In contrast, the condom is the only available male form of reversible
contraception (Oudshoorn, 2004).

Over the past 50 years, meanings
attached to female contraception are evolved. As a result, women’s
contraceptive practices are surrounded by a web of discourses shaping
heterosexuality. Hollway (1989) acknowledged three competing discourses, that
reinforce the meanings and practices related with heterosexuality, to
understand how women and men are positioned by and how they position their own
self within these discourses. Within the ”male sex drive” discourse, men are
presented as biologically in need and want sex and women’s sexuality is a
passive object of men’s natural sexual urges. Within the “permissive
discourse”, women’s sexuality is presented as equal to men, autonomous, and
free to express with a focus on sexual pleasure so an equal representation of
desire is shared between men and women. However, women are also blamed and made
responsible for the bad consequences of having sex by their free will because
of the stereotype of men can do what they want, however, women must be careful
and protect themselves. Finally, within the “have/hold” discourse, women and
men’s sexualities are constructed as opposite as men are naturally predatory
whereas women are naturally passive and receptive. Lowe (2005) argues that the
”male sex drive” and ‘have/hold’ discourse construct men as both ”powerful”
and ”uncontrollable” in their sexual desire and women as sexually passive and
rational, which together reinforces women’s responsibility for contraception.
So, the assumption is that women are more likely to use contraception because
of their risk to pregnancy as well as their state of rationality (Lowe, 2005b).

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In Braun’s (2013) work with young
people, she figured out that they mobilised these discourses to discount the
need for condoms. She concluded that ”such accounts work to conceptually
separate condoms from ‘desirable’ sex; condoms are constructed as not
synonymous with, or even oppositional to, things that sex is or should be
about, such as passion, or romance” (p.372). Therefore, with cultural
understandings of (hetero)sex as spontaneous, pleasurable, and intimate,
condoms become a less desirable contraceptive method. “Particularly, female
contraception allows women to be prepared for sex without necessarily expecting
sex – reinforcing the notion of spontaneity” (Lowe, 2005b).

According to a report that presented
the results of a survey on contraception and sexual health carried out by the
Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2008/09, estimated contraceptive use
among women under 50 was 75%. The most popular methods were the contraceptive
pill with 25% and condoms with 25%. Among the users, younger women were more likely
to use the pill or condom compared to older women. Oppositely, older women were
more likely to rely on sterilisation or partner’s vasectomy compared to younger
women. Users who were single were more likely to use the pill or condom than
those who were married. On the other hand, reliance on surgical methods to
prevent pregnancy was most popular among widowed, separated, or divorced women
and least common among single women. It has been found that women with no
educational qualifications were least likely to use contraception and
sterilisation was more common among these group of women compared to those with
educational qualifications.

On the other hand, results showed that
in previous years almost all women (91%) had heard of hormonal emergency
contraception also known as (the ‘morning after pill’). However, only 48% of
these women knew the morning after pill remains effective within 72 hours after
sexual intercourse. Few women with only 40% were aware of the emergency
intrauterine device (IUD). Finally, only 4% of these women incorrectly believed
the morning after pill was only effective to prevent pregnancy until the next
period and less than 1% believed it protected against sexually transmitted
infections. Therefore, we can conclude that women should be educated and need
to have a greater access to information regarding the effects of contraception
(including side effects, potential long-term effects, and risks) and the
different contraceptive options that are available to them.

Undoubtedly, condoms are one of the
most important contraceptive methods in heterosexual relationships as it is the
strongest method to fight sexually transmitted diseases such as STIs. However,
condoms are not often chosen to be routinely used in sexual relationships
because users typically negatively view condoms – and non-users – (e.g. Chapman
and Hodgson, 1988). People usually attach negative meanings around condom use
as it is generally seen to reduce the physical pleasure.  Chapman and Hodgson (1988) argue that condom
use results in having sex like a “shower in a raincoat”. Condoms are also
claimed to reduce the sense of emotional closeness and not liked as they
disturb pleasure, kill the moment, and make sexual spontaneity impossible. The
idea of ‘the heat of the moment’, another common trope around sex, again
appeals a ‘natural’ trajectory for heterosex that is linear and cumulative
(Lowe, 2005). Sex involves a build-up of passion (heat), and any disruption to
this is consequently a disruption to sex. Such accounts work to conceptually
separate condoms from ‘desirable’ sex. The metaphor of condom-as-killer and the
evocation of a battle between sex and the condom construct an ideal form of
heterosex, where sex should be a natural, continuous process, without the
‘interruption’ of a condom, following a linear route towards penetration and
ultimate pleasure/orgasm (Braun, 2013).


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