Sex op rush is on the way: British narratives of vasectomies, c. 1970-85
This seminar draws upon Georgia Grainger's doctoral research into a social history of vasectomy in Britain in the twentieth century, based at the University of Strathclyde. This seminar makes use of newspaper archives to demonstrate some of the conflicting ideas of vasectomy in Britain in this period, as it came on the National Health Service (NHS) and increased in popularity (vasectomy becomes fully available by 1972). At this time, there were private providers of vasectomy, NHS and proponents of vasectomy for population control reasons, all vying for news coverage. With the increasing use of the procedure, there was also a rise in research around the procedure and in cases with negative outcomes, resulting in shock stories covered with tabloid enthusiasm.
Agony aunts also answered frequent questions regarding whether their readers should encourage their husbands to choose the permanent sterilisation operation. By looking at this variety of narratives around vasectomy, we can better understand the wider attitudes towards masculinity, family, and relationships in this period, as well as the changing role of the NHS towards offering non-essential medical services.
Georgia received an undergraduate degree from Queen's University Belfast in English and Linguistics, then went on to graduate with an MLitt in Twentieth-Century British and Irish History from the University of Dundee in 2016, where their dissertation looked at the role of co-operatives in Irish society. They are now researching the history of vasectomy in Britain in a Research Excellence Award funded project with the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. This research intends to use oral history, media archives, and other sources to detail the rising popularity of vasectomy in Britain, as well as to examine the relationship between male contraceptive choices and masculinities.
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