The clinic as a gendered space: Masculinities, health seeking behaviour and HIV & AIDS

Written by Hanlie Myburgh

Many studies find that men visit public health care facilities much less frequently than do women,(2,3) which has some significance for the poor uptake of men in voluntary counselling and testing services (VCTs) for HIV. A number of explanations have been given for this phenomenon, some of which focus on constructions of masculinity as a barrier to seeking health care. This paper draws on a relatively unexamined reason for men’s lack of attendance in public health care facilities which resonate strongly with debates around masculinity: that men view the clinic as women’s space. As many clinics are run mainly by women, holding positions as nurses and counsellors, and are also primarily attended by women and children, men may find visiting the clinic cumbersome and embarrassing, as it challenges traditional and hegemonic notions of masculinity. This paper focuses on the particularities of masculinity and health seeking behaviour in an African context... [More]