Interview with Laura, 20 - 21, White British, middle class. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, Manchester, 1989. Anonymised version including fieldnotes (Ref: MAN09)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Laura from Leeds, who is doing Maths and Physics at university. She feels she is not taken seriously enough as a woman within the science field, and was also critical of gendered subjects at her high school. Her parents (mum and dad) have always been encouraging and supportive of Laura pursuing a career in science. The only sex education she received in high school was in a biology lesson, which mainly covered pregnancy and childbirth, but briefly touched upon contraception. Her sixth form provided discussion-based sex education, but it wasn't very engaging. Her mum had spoken to her about periods, but her friends didn't really talk about sex at all. There was a lot of pressure at school to be in a relationship or have had sex, especially in sixth form. There was an assumption in her peer group that girls who identified or were seen as intelligent couldn't also be fanciable, or sexual. Laura has done some travelling in her gap year, working in London and Spain and backpacking through India. This is where she first had sex, with a man she met there - they were both virgins at the time, she felt quite relaxed and they used condoms. She also uses a diaphragm, which she got from a family planning clinic. She has had a few (sexual) relationships since; one with someone younger and less experienced than her, where she felt she had more control. In her current relationship, with an older man, she feels she has less control and can be quite vulnerable. This is at odds with some of her feminist values, and she noted that there is conflict between how she sees herself and how she acts. She learnt about AIDS through TV programmes, and has taken a political stance on it - she recognises an underlying political agenda in government propaganda that attempts to promote heterosexuality and family values while restricting female sexual freedom - something that is important to her. She is quite involved in Marxist politics, but finds it difficult to seperate and discuss the personal, rather than political, aspects of AIDS. She considers herself as at risk, but sees safe-sex as using condoms and limiting sexual partners.
Women, Risk and Aids Project (WRAP, 1989-90)
The Reanimating Data Project
Greater Manchester, UK
CC BY-NC 4.0