While the hypothesis wasn’t supported, the thematic analysis provided interesting insights into why, revealing other factors that may have important relationships with sexual health mavenism behaviours.
Firstly, it highlighted a wider understanding of digital health literacy in this context and attitudes to trust and truth, with proactive skills and strategies being used to develop personal truth around sexual health both on and offline.
“Most of the times yes [I trust], but at time I need to recheck because it’s not everything that comes from Google that is accurate, so maybe if I get some information from Google I’ll have to do a background check and check on sources…”
Secondly, participants spoke about strong cultural and social norms creating powerful taboos around sex, and communication about sex, that impact how young men learn about, share, and self-censor on the subject.
“In Zambia it’s most tradition consider it as an abomination to talk about sex and sexual related issues, so that is the number one barrier. Our culture kind of terms these things as an abomination. And once a youthful person is able to talk about these things they [adults] feel they are running astray.”
The third theme was around a responsibility to act, with young men motivated by feelings of social responsibility around sexual health knowledge sharing.
“I feel it is very much part of my duty to be able to share knowledge, to share materials with others, in order to make the community and society a better place to live in.”
The final theme was around changing times. Changes in sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and social norms are underway in Zambia, but these changes are unfinished, and they are also still challenged by others who feel traditional ‘African’ values are threatened by ‘Western’ values.
“This is one of the debates around especially in the remotest areas. We feel that once you have case of the Western culture and talk about issues of sexual health, depression, anxiety, those things they are for the West, so that is the biggest barrier we have.”