It’s been a while. That’s mostly my fault – I should be keeping you updated more. I’ve fallen behind with posting for many many reasons – at first, it was because I was teaching at a summer school (doing research I love doesn’t always pay well, and I find it hard to work during term-time, as excessive business makes my fibro flare more). This meant, in part, that I was only able to focus on the dissertation for part of the day – and meant I was juggling a number of trains of thought at once – while I love teaching, it does tend to take over my brain. It takes me a couple of weeks to get out of teacher mode too – I find myself using the “irritated teacher” voice on my housemates and explaining things a lot more than I need to.
The second reason I’ve fallen behind actually relates to my research. I interviewed three very lovely people (they know who they are, and how much I’m grateful to them, which is a lot) and it took me rather longer to transcribe the interviews than I thought it would – partly because I massively under-estimated how much we’d all talk! Which is why I’ve decided to stick with just three participants – that and their disparate personalities and the experiences they’ve shared with me has made for quite a diverse little group; not as diverse as I’d like, perhaps, but then again, that was in part the luck of the drawer and my own shortcomings. I’ll have to write more about that.
All the same, thank you to the three participants, and to all the people who got in touch to ask if they could take part. You’re all awesome people.
Since then, I’ve been in a bit of a tizzy over actually writing this all up – I’m handing my dissertation in at the end of September, and it feels very much like I’ve got more to do than I could ever manage – which has led to a few stress-triggered flares and some moments of mild hysteria directed at the dogs or my partner. But it progresses. I’m lucky – I’m writing this from the living room of a villa in Portugal my father-in-law has hired for the week, to celebrate his retirement, and when I”ve written a bit more of my methodology and this post, I’ll be sticking myself in the pool and letting my joints relax a bit. While slathered in suncream.
I’m not going to share too much with you all about what I’ve found – until I’ve handed it in, of course. But so far, I’ve got some key themes that have come out across all three interviews, to various extents:
- sex and pleasure (and relationships)
- sexual and disabled identties, and how they interact
- kink, fetish and porn
- access and social issues, some of which directly impact sexuality and sexual pleasure
- living with impairments – what I call the embodied experiences of impairment – and how that impacts sex and relationships and everyday life
- medicine and care – everything from medications influencing sexual function to how partners become carers
I’m finding the medicine bit a little difficult, in part because rejecting the medical model is so much a part of my political stance, but it doesn’t fit so neatly within the other sections. I think, however, if I’m going to critique the social model for not including the body, then I need to also acknowledge that medicine and care does play a part in disabled people’s lives, to varying levels – and not necessarily negatively all the time; sometimes medicine is a good thing and sometimes we do need someone to help us get into the bath.
Right. Dissertation writing. Off I go. There is some cheese in the fridge calling to me and I want to write a couple of thousand words today before I go tread the fine line between irritating my overly sensitive skin with chlorine, and getting some of the pain to go away for a bit.