A Foucauldian-informed discourse analysis of men’s use of a partner-share feature to track their female partner’s menstrual cycle : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Distance, New Zealand

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Purpose: To analyse the discourses constructing men's use of the sharing feature of the female partner's menstrual tracking app (MTA). Background: Sharing features are a recent development among MTAs, these enable users to share information about their menstrual cycle with others, including partners. But how this practice is understood and the implications for how men may understand themselves, their intimate partners and the menstrual cycle is poorly understood. Methods: To address this gap, three data sources that account for men's use of this sharing feature were analysed, these were: 1) Semi-structured interviews with 5 men using an MTA sharing feature (aged 32–45 years, from New Zealand, Australia, United States, and United Kingdom); 2) semi-structured interviews with 2 app developers (male, aged 36 and 59 from Russia and Germany); and 3) app-produced text from the MyFlo MTA sharing feature (first four emails sent to a male users over 1 month). A Foucauldian-informed discourse analysis was performed on each data set separately and then compared to explore the available discourses, subject positions, and rhetorical strategies. Findings: Two discourses traversed the data sets; 'the hormonal imperative' (a biological essentialist argument in which hormones are the dominant drivers of female behaviour), and 'optimal living' (in which people are encouraged and held responsible to live their best life). Within these discourses, the MTA sharing feature was constructed as a tool to help men generate knowledge about the menstrual cycle, so that they can be better men and partners. However, the hoped-for outcomes were limited by framing of the female partner's behaviour as biological; by concerns that caring behaviour was, in practice, controlling and invasive; and that optimal living discourses created impossible expectations. Conclusions: This study supports existing literature that men want more knowledge to be better partners, and that MTA's frame the female menstrual cycle through biologically essentialist discourses. It develops the literature by showing how the sharing feature reproduces historical, sexist notions of mad women and rational men, positioning male users in a double bind, since they describe using the apps to enhance egalitarian relationships. Developers of these technologies minimized these and other concerns related to data privacy and app misuse by controlling men. The implications are that male users (and their partners) are currently left to contend with problematic issues created from using these technologies and that the future research and app development needs to focus on how to create affirmative outcomes for partners.