Previous research about Artificial Penile Nodules (APN) have mostly emphasized on vulnerability in terms of health risks to the men modifying their genital organs by implanting APN. The voices of the users, who are mostly young men, are rarely heard. This research is an explorative study which attempts to make visible the experiences and views of young Indonesian male prisoners who implant APN. Rather than giving attention only to vulnerability, it is important to view this prison subculture from another perspective such as agency. By interviewing the users, non-users, and prison officials, this research unveils the contradicting perceptions and concerns among them. The absence of recreational activities inside the prison seems to motivate the young prisoners to exercise their agency by choosing how they spend their time in the “hypermasculine” environment of a prison. APN implantation is one of the masculine activities chosen. However, due to its potential health risks and insinuations of one’s morality, prison officials mark this practice as illegal and threaten the users with punishments. Being unmarried and young, the morality-based stigma received by the users is worse. Yet, merely stigmatizing and banning this practice has pushed the young prisoners to practice this clandestinely and dismiss any health services in case of infections or complications after the implantation. Having said that, this research reveals the mutual reinforcement between agency and vulnerability. In other words, it is not only the vulnerabilities inside the prison which stimulated the prisoners’ agency, but it is also their agency which enhanced their vulnerabilities.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keysers, Loes
Children and Youth Studies (CYS)
International Institute of Social Studies

Wardi, Nur Febriani. (2011, December 15). Young male prisoners implanting artificial penile nodules: “A sign of vulnerability or an expression of agency?”. Children and Youth Studies (CYS). Retrieved from