DOI link for Information keeping/seeking
Information keeping/seeking book
Existing studies have shown that throughout pregnancy women seek out and are targeted with a range of information on pregnancy and screening. Such information ranges from formal information disseminated by health professionals orally or through leaﬂets, books, etc., to informal sources of information textbooks/magazines/pregnancy support groups (Marteau and Dormandy 2001; Lowe et al. 2009). While many authors have highlighted the beneﬁts of women seeking/receiving such information (Marteau and Dormandy 2001), others have been more scathing, viewing this information as yet another form of biomedical regulation of women’s bodies (Marshall and Woollett 2000). One issue that is apparent however in existing research is that women remain the key targets/recipients of pregnancy-related information, emphasising their roles as exclusive guardians of fetal and child health (Rapp 2000). Little is known about men’s involvement in this process of information seeking (Locock and Alexander 2006). The aim of this chapter is to explore both women and men’s roles as information seekers, disseminators and consumers focusing on the ways in which this has the potential to both reinforce and challenge a traditional gender division of labour in reproduction. Drawing on data from the study, the ﬁrst two sections of the chapter will
focus on women’s roles as key targets, seekers and consumers of pregnancyrelated information. Women seek out information about pregnancy and genetic screening and selectively disseminate that information to partners, thus reinforcing their role as guardians of the fetus. As will be argued women establish their roles as guardians of fetal health through gate-keeping information about genetic screening. Traditional gender roles in reproduction are therefore reinforced with women taking more responsibility for the health of the fetus. This role is further supported by midwives and other health professionals who disseminate screening information predominantly to women. As the chapter will move on to explore however, this female exclusivity in the realm of prenatal genetics is currently being challenged by an increase in men’s access to information about genetic screening (Locock and Alexander 2006), particularly through men’s use of information technology. As argued
elsewhere, the Internet constitutes a unique medium where ‘expert’ knowledge on health is accessible to anyone with a networked computer (Hardey 1999). Men use the Internet to seek out information on pregnancy, screening and genetic conditions. This allows them access to a previously exclusive femaleonly world, thus perhaps challenging women’s roles as exclusive guardians of fetal health. The chapter will conclude therefore by emphasising the ‘gender paradox’ surrounding women and men’s roles around information seeking/ receiving, on the one they hand signal a reinforcement of traditional gender roles whilst attempting to move beyond them on the other.