Sex, Men, and Babies: Stories of Awareness and Responsibility

By William Marsiglio; Sally Hutchinson | Go to book overview

4
Turning Points in Identity

For a variety of reasons, adolescence and young adulthood are dynamic, often turbulent times for boys and young men.1 During these years males often experience life events that help them gain new insights into themselves, relationships, and other aspects of life. Because they are discovering their sexuality and becoming aware of their procreative potential, and in many instances are realizing this potential, sexual and procreative experiences are often central to their changing lives. These patterns call for an expansion of the discussion begun in chapter 3. We now look at the processes by which young single men undergo meaningful shifts in the way they think, feel, and act with respect to the procreative realm. Some of the shifts are tied to early paternity experiences.

As mentioned in chapter 1, we use the sensitizing concept of turning point2 to guide our analysis of how young men’s procreative identities evolve. We emphasize the fluid and subjective nature of men’s procreative consciousness and identity while highlighting how the gendered nature of the procreative realm affects men’s transitions.3

The insights we generate help us to understand and classify the types of procreative and nonprocreative events young men identify as significant turning points that relate to their potential to impregnate, procreate, or become social fathers. We extract key themes from the narratives of the men in our study that speak to how they changed as they reacted to diverse events such as military enrollment, a born-again religious experience, a baby’s baptism, and a father’s death. Likewise, we consider fertilityrelated and fathering experiences that deal with issues involving pregnancy scares, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, live births, and biological and stepfathering. Focusing on a range of procreative experiences rather than on, say, only abortion or paternity, provides us with an opportunity to explore turning points within the broad context of men’s

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Sex, Men, and Babies: Stories of Awareness and Responsibility
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface v
  • 1 - Setting the Stage 1
  • 2 - Studying Young Single Men 31
  • 3 - Becoming Aware, Being Aware 61
  • 4 - Turning Points in Identity 110
  • 5 - Romantic Involvements 139
  • 6 - Thinking about Fatherhood 176
  • 7 - Looking Forward 209
  • Appendix - Participant Profiles 241
  • Notes 245
  • References 259
  • Index 273
  • About the Authors 280
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