Sexuality, Procreation and Contraception
Have you noticed how many different books or pamphlets about proper table manners have been published in our country? There are whole stacks of advice, recommendations and suggestions centred around one single need. Nobody is surprised. Why should sexuality be any different? Why should we be horrified at its cultivation?(Mrkvidka, 1977, pp.52-3)
While sex is not the only bond between spouses, it is the most important one. One cannot expect a satisfied marriage without the harmony in intimate life. And vice versa: satisfactory sex contributes to an easier overcoming of difficulties entailed in married lifeApr, 1981, p. 41)
During the last decade, our women at fertile age have been subjected to a disproportionate number of demands, the consequences of which are likely to manifest themselves more and more in the health state of the female population. Apart from generational duties, frequently connected with serious risky situations and pathological complications, maternal responsibilities, work loads in the household as well as in employment, and economic problems, the current period brought a substantial proportion of women also the necessity of bearing the risk of possible complications of contraception.(Kadrnková, 1981, pp. 473-4)
Cultural norms pertaining to sexuality have certainly changed so that sex is now socially recognised as playing a central role in society. Unlike the situation in the 1950s and early 1960s, the issue is now discussed relatively openly in Czechoslovakia, both in expert advice books and in scholarly publications.
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- 1.The social construction of menstruation is a controversial topic. See Sayers (1982, pp. 110–24) for an informative review of the diverse biological, psychoanalytic, structural and liberal feminist accounts of the social construction of menstruation as polluting. Some radical feminists have sought to combat the present negative valuation of menstruation simply by reversing this valuation, by giving menstruation a positive social value. Sayers (1982, p. 124) herself argues, ‘if this course is to be fully served, however, it is also essential to acknowledge that biology (menstruation in this case) does have real effects on women’s lives and that these effects are not to be dismissed as merely the result of the ideas that societies entertain about it’.Google Scholar
- 2.The World Fertility Survey is an international research programme which was inspired by the World Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974. It is administered by the International Statistical Institute in collaboration with the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, and its headquarters are in London, UK. Its participants currently include 49 developing Third World countries and 17 developed countries, 6 of which are state socialist — Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. For more information about the proQramme, see Vaessen (19781.Google Scholar
- 3.The Institute for the Care of Mother and Child coordinates all state (federal) research tasks in the field of care of woman, mother and newborn, both in basic research, and in research included in the plan of technical development, not to mention the departmental plan of the Czech Ministry of Health. In addition, the Institute, which has the country’s ‘highest concentration of highly qualified scientists in the field of gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatology’ (2idovs14, 1982, p. 84), provides regular clinical care for women and children who reside in its small district (part of Prague 4). The Institute was ‘born’ on 3 March 1951, as a result of the amalgamation of the former III obstetrical/ gynaecological clinic and a nursing clinic of Prague’s Charles University. According to Vojta and Pola6ek (1961, p. 8), ‘its basic mission was the research of the physiology and pathology of pregnancy, birth and postpartum, the development of women’s health in relation to their work and environmental conditions, and the physiology and pathology of the child in the earliest stages of life. The needs of the organisation of health care of women and children created for the Institute many additional tasks, mainly methodical—organisational in character. While employees at the Institute were relieved of basic pedagogical activity, they were instead given the task of the postgraduate training of doctors and other specialists.’Google Scholar