Open Journal Systems
Male Infertility, Masculinity, and New Reproductive Technologies in the Arab World
What is the relationship between male infertility and masculinity among Arab men, particularly as new reproductive technologies become increasingly available to populations in the Arab world? In this essay, I attempt to answer this question by exploring the emerging theoretical literature on Middle Eastern masculinities, then turning to my own empirical research on male infertility among Arab men in three disparate settings. As I will argue here, male infertility may threaten Arab masculinities on numerous levels. Yet, in the age of powerful new reproductive technologies to overcome male infertility, the crisis of Arab manhood once posed by male infertility may be waning, in ways to be described in this article.
Abbey, A., Andrews, F. M., & Halman, L. J. (1991). Gender’s role
in responses to infertility. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 295-316.
Ahmed, L. (1992). Women and gender in Islam: Historical roots of a modern debate. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Ali, K. A. (2000). Making “responsible” men: Planning the family in Egypt. In C. Bledsoe, Lerner, S., & Guyer, J. I. (Eds.), Fertility and the Male Life-Cycle in the Era of Fertility Decline, 119-143. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
——— (1996). Notes on rethinking masculinities: An Egyptian case.” In S. Zeidenstein & K. Moore (Eds.), Learning about sexuality: A practical beginning, 98-109. New York: The Population Council International Women’s Health Coalition Network.
Beck, L., & Keddie, N. (Eds.). (1978). Women in the Muslim world. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Becker, G. (2002). “Deciding whether to tell children about donor insemination: An unresolved question in the United States.” In M. C. Inhorn F. van Balen (Eds.), Infertility around the globe: New thinking on childlessness, gender, and reproductive technologies, 119-133. Berkeley: University of California Press.
——— (2000). The elusive embryo: How women and men approach new reproductive technologies. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bledsoe, C., Guyer, J. I., & Lerner, S. (2000). “Introduction”. In C. Bledsoe, S. Lerner, & J. I. Guyer (Eds.), Fertility and the male lifecycle
in the era of fertility decline,1-26. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Bowen, D. L., & Early, E. A. (Eds.). (1993). Everyday life in the Muslim Middle East. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Connell, R. W. (2000). The men and the boys. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.
Cornwall, A., & Lindisfarne, N. (Eds.). (1994). Dislocating masculinity:
Comparative ethnographies. London: Routledge.
Daniluk, J. C. (1988). Infertility: Intrapersonal and interpersonal impact. Fertility and Sterility, 49, 982-990.
Delaney, C. (1991). The seed and the soil: Gender and cosmology in Turkish village society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Devroey, P., Vandervorst, M., Nagy, P., & Van Steirteghem, A. (1998). Do we treat the male or his gamete? Human Reproduction, 13 (Suppl 1),178-185.
Eickelman, D. F. (1998). The Middle East and Central Asia: An
anthropological approach, Third Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Fernea, E. W. (Ed.). (1985). Women and the family in the Middle East: New voices of change. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Fernea, E. W. & Bezirgan, B. Q. (Eds.) (1977). Middle Eastern Muslim women speak. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Ghoussoub, M., & Sinclair-Webb, E. (Eds.). (2000). Imagined masculinities: Male identity and culture in the modern Middle East. London: Saqi Books.
Gocek, F. M., & Balaghi, S. (Eds.). (1994). Reconstructing gender in the Middle East. New York: Columbia University Press.
Greil, A. L. (1997). “Infertility and psychological distress: A critical review of the literature.” Social Science & Medicine, 45, 1679-1704.
Greil, A. L. (1991). “A secret stigma: The analogy between infertility and chronic illness and disability”. Advances in Medical Sociology, 2, 17-38.
Greil, A. L., Porter, K. L., & Leitko, T. A. (1990). Sex and intimacy among infertile couples. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 2, 117-138.
Gutmann, M. C. (1997). “ Trafficking in men: The anthropology of masculinity”. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26, 385-409.
Guyer, J. I. (2000). Traditions of studying paternity in social anthropology. In C. Bledsoe, S. Lerner, & J. I. Guyer (Eds.), Fertility and the male life-cycle in the era of fertility decline, 61-90. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Hassoun, R. (1999). “Arab-American health and the process of coming to America: Lessons from the metropolitan Detroit area”. In M. Suleiman (Ed.), Arabs in America: Building a new future, 157-176. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Howards, S. S. (1995). “Treatment of male infertility”. The New England Journal of Medicine, 332, 311-317.
Hudson, A., Cunningham, M., Khurana, M. A., Kysia, R. F., Richmond, J., Flournoy, R., & Akbar, M. (Eds.) (1999). Arab-American health in Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, School of Public Health.
Ilkkaracan, P. (Ed.) (2000). Women and sexuality in Muslim
societies. Istanbul, Turkey: Women for Women’s Human Rights—New Ways.
Inhorn, M. C. (2004). War stories of male infertility in Lebanon. Paper presented at the symposium on “Global Health on the Front Lines: From Prevention to Reconstruction,” University of Michigan School of Public Health, March 18, 2004.
Inhorn, M. C. (2003a). Local babies, global science: Gender,
religion, and in vitro fertilization in Egypt. New York: Routledge.
——— (2003b). “The worms are weak: Male infertility and
patriarchal paradoxes in Egypt.” Men and Masculinities, 5, 236-256.
——— (2002). “Sexuality, masculinity, and infertility in Egypt: Potent troubles in the marital and medical encounters.” The Journal of Men’s Studies, 10, 343-359.
——— (1996). Infertility and patriarchy: The cultural politics of gender and family life in Egypt. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
——— (1994). Quest for conception: Gender, infertility, and Egyptian medical traditions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Irvine, D. S. 1998. “Epidemiology and aetiology of male infertility.”
Human Reproduction, 13 (Suppl 1), 33-44.
Joseph, S. (2000). Gendering citizenship in the Middle East. In S. Joseph (Ed.), Gender and citizenship in the Middle East, 3-30. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
——— (Ed.). (1999). Intimate selving in Arab families: Gender, self, and identity. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
——— (1994). “Brother/sister relationships: Connectivity, love and power in the reproduction of Arab patriarchy.” American Ethnologist, 21, 50-73.
——— (1993). Connectivity and patriarchy among urban working class Arab families in Lebanon. Ethos, 21, 465-484.
Kamischke, A., & Nieschlag, E. (1998). “Conventional treatments of male infertility in the age of evidence-based andrology.” Human Reproduction, 13 (Suppl 1), 62-75.
Kandiyoti, D. (Ed.). (1996). Gendering the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris.
——— (1994). “The paradoxes of masculinity: Some thoughts
on segregated societies.” In A. Cornwall & N. Lindisfarne (Eds.), Dislocating masculinity: Comparative ethnographies, 197-213. London: Routledge.
——— (1991). “Islam and patriarchy: A comparative perspective.” In N. R. - Keddie & B. Baron (Eds.), Women in Middle Eastern history: Shifting boundaries in sex and gender, 23-42. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
——— (1988). “Bargaining with patriarchy.” Gender and Society, 2, 274-290.
Keddie, N. R., & Baron, B. (Eds.). (1991). Women in Middle Eastern history: Shifting boundaries in sex and gender. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Leonard, L. (2002). “Problematizing fertility: Scientific accounts and Chadian women’s narratives.” In M. C. Inhorn & F. van Balen (Eds.), Infertility around the globe: New thinking on childlessness, gender, and reproductive technologies, 193-214. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lindisfarne, N. (1994). “Variant masculinities, variant virginities: Rethinking honour and shame.” In A. Cornwall & N. Lindisfarne (Eds.), Disclocating masculinity: Comparative ethnographies, 82-96. London: Routledge.
Lloyd, M. (1996). “Condemned to be meaningful: Nonresponse in studies of men and infertility.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 18, 433-454.
Malti-Douglas, F. (1991). Woman’s body, woman’s word: Gender and discourse in Arabo-Islamic writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mernissi, F. (1985). Beyond the veil: Male-female dynamics in Muslim society. London: Al Saqi Books.
Moghadam, V. M. (Ed.) (1994). Identity politics and women: Cultural reassertions and feminisms in international perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
——— (1993). Modernizing women: Gender & social change in the Middle East. Boulder, CO: Lynn Rienner.
Moynihan, C. (1998). “Theories of masculinity.” British Medical Journal, 317, 1072-1075.
Nachtigall, R. D., Becker, G., & Wozny, M. (1992). “The effects of gender-specific diagnosis on men’s and women’s response to infertility.” Fertility and Sterility, 54, 113-121.
Obermeyer, C. M. (1999). “Fairness and fertility: The meaning of son preference in Morocco.” In R. Leete (Ed.), Dynamics of values in fertility change, 275-292. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Ouzgane, L. (1997). “Masculinity as virility in Tahar Ben Jelloun’s fiction.” Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, 4, 1-13.
Peteet, J. (2000). “Male gender and rituals of resistance in the Palestinian intifada: A cultural politics of violence.” In M. Ghoussoub & E. Sinclair-Webb (Eds.), Imagined masculinities: Male identity and culture in the modern Middle East,103-126. London: Saqi Books.
Population Reference Bureau. 2004. World population data sheet. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.
Sabbah, F. A. (1984). Woman in the Muslim unconscious. New York: Pergamon Press.
Sciarra, J. (1994). “Infertility: An international health problem.”
International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 46, 155- 163.
Serour, G. I. (1996). “Bioethics in reproductive health: A Muslim’s perspective.” Middle East Fertility Society Journal, 1, 30-35.
Sinclair-Webb, E. (2000). “Our Bulent is now a commando: Military service and manhood in Turkey.” In M. Ghoussoub & E.Sinclair-Webb (Eds.), Imagined masculinities: Male identity and culture in the modern Middle East, 65-102. London: Saqi Books.
Toubia, N. (1988). Woman of the Arab world: The coming challenge. London: Zed Books.
Tucker, J. (Ed.) (1993). Arab women: Old boundaries, new frontiers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Van Balen, F., & Inhorn. M. C. (2002). “Interpreting infertility: A view from the social sciences.” In M. C. Inhorn & F. van Balen (Eds.), Infertility around the globe: New thinking on childlessness, gender, and reproductive technologies, 3-32. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Van Balen, F., & Trimbos-Kemper, T. C. M.. (1994). “Factors influencing the well-being of long-term infertile couples.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 15, 157-164.
Van Balen, F., Verdurmen, J.E., & Ketting, E. (1995). Caring about infertility: Main results of the national survey about behavior regarding infertility. Delft, The Netherlands: Eburon.
Webb, R.E., & Daniluk, J. C. (1999). “The end of the line: Infertile men’s experiences of being unable to produce a child.” Men and Masculinities, 2, 6-25.
World Health Organization. (1991). Infertility: A tabulation of available data on prevalence of primary and secondary infertility. Geneva: World Health Organization Programme on Maternal Health and Family Planning, Division of Family Health.
- There are currently no refbacks.