Field notes from interview with Denise, 17, Irish, working class, Roman Catholic. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version. (Ref: LJH27)
Anonymised field notes from an interview with Denise. Denise has a disability and is unable to walk, and has attended a school for those with additional needs. There is no mention of any formal sex education that she has received, though she does use condoms and the field note mentions a book that she addresses to find sexual information. Denise has been in a heterosexual relationship with her partner for a year and they hope to get engaged soon - this is a sexual relationship. The field note also briefly mentions Denise's relationship with her family.
Reanimating Data Project
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17,8; Irish; GCSE maths, went to special school for disabled, is in wheelchair; lives
with ma, 2 bros, 1 sis; ma - no work, pa left 3/4 years ago; JH27 is doing [TRAINING
COURSE] in office skills; hetero, one relationship of a year with a ym of 19 who was
a virgin like her at the beginning.
It was a bit difficult to understand her at first as she has a slight speech impediment, but
once you got the rhythm it is OK [But I will probably transcribe the tape myself, later,
when I have time, since it would probably be a nightmare for a transcriber!]. She is in a
wheelchair, cannot walk, and I did not ask exactly what was wrong. When I asked her
about risk, however, I was a little shocked I must admit when she told me that she likes
to sit on the window sill with her legs hanging out, from their third floor flat, maybe talking
to people down below. She does not know why she likes to do this.
She is rather pretty, small and thin, wearing smart jeans and a pink T shirt. Short,
stylishly cut dark hair.
There seem to be a number of brothers and sisters, one sis is 20 years old and has 2
kids and [SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION] according to JH27. I did not pursue this.
When pa left 3/4 years ago it caused her to feel very bad about men. She never sees him
now, and does not know where he is. Her current relationship with a boy who lives
opposite has lasted a year and he 'let slip' that they would get engaged later this year.
This is what she wants. They have a sexual relationship which she enjoys a lot. They use
condoms, and have done from the beginning. He was embarrassed to buy them but
managed, got from a garage I think. They were both virgins so she is not bothered re
AIDS. Has not told ma but feels that she must know (She changes my sheets and
sometimes there are stains.) There were difficulties in her relationship with her younger
sister, who was very close, they did everything together, when she started the
relationship with the boy, but they do try to take her around with them sometimes (as well
as one or two of his relatives). They go out driving in his car a lot, he takes her on little
outings. Her sister said something hurtful to her (at least I don't sleep around) which
caused her some pain, and she felt anyone might have overheard and she had no right
to imply or reveal that JH27 was having a sexual relationship. I think this event took place
at home. But they have sorted it out now, and the sis apologised.
She threw me at the end when I asked if she wanted to ask any questions, she asked
one about the smell of the vaginal discharge, fishy at times. I related it to the cycle and
ovulation, and advised her to consult a book which she has used for sexual information
which mentioned the natural method of birth control, which would detail the cycle, but
probably would not mention the smell.