Interview with Michelle, 21, Caribbean, upper working class. AIDS Project, Manchester, 1989. Anonymised version including fieldnotes (Ref: EDD184)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Michelle, 21, who works with children but would like a better paid, perhaps secretarial, job. She lives with her mum and dad and two sisters. She gets on well with her older sister, age 25, but there is some tension with her her younger sister, age 17, as they are living at home together and sharing a room. Michelle thinks her parents are quite 'old-fashioned', strict and do not offer her much freedom, especially with regard to dating and going out with her friends. They are quite traditional with their expectations of Michelle's life trajectory, in terms of education, marriage and child-bearing. Her parents are not very open in talking about sexuality or relationships, but her mum has spoken to her about the health-risks related to the pill. Michelle is using the pill as she finds condoms uncomfortable and embarrassing. These are the only forms of contraception she was aware of. Michelle would be 'insulted' if a partner asked her to use a condom during sex, as she feels there is some stigma that implies she is promiscuous. With regard to safe-sex, she has been more concerned about pregnancy risks than AIDS risks, which seems contradictory as she considers AIDS to be much more serious and permanent than pregnancy and is not taking precautionary measures against AIDS transmissions through condoms. She finds it difficult and uncomfortable to discuss AIDS with her partner. Her formal sex education at her all girls' school consisted of a single Biology lesson at school that mainly covered conception, as well as that from friends and women's magazines. She had some AIDS education at school, largely through leaflets, but her view on AIDS has been influenced mainly by the media. She thinks 'everybody; is at risk of AIDS, but, despite being fairly well-informed, is somewhat naive in her attitude that it 'wouldn't happen' to her. Her first sexual intercourse when she was 13 was with an older man (27) and was not considered consensual. Michelle thinks she was too young to have sex, and had been hoping her first sex would be more romantic. She has since had a large number of casual sexual partners. Michelle has conflicting thoughts about whether she regrets these or not. She is worried that others, especially future partners, may judge her as 'cheap'. She tends to have more romantic interest in older men, as they are 'more mature'. She has had a few older boyfriends, but ended up cheating on them. Her current partner is a 35 year old divorced male, with a 10 year old daughter from a previous marriage, and though they have only been dating for a month she feels it will be a serious relationship. She thinks she is ready to settle down, and is more ambitious regarding her romantic relationships than she is her career.
Women, Risk and Aids Project (WRAP, 1989-90)
The Reanimating Data Project
Greater Manchester, UK
CC BY-NC 4.0