Saturday, 6 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 3: Finnish Bisexuals in 1999 and 2009

Another transcribing of the YouTube shorts from BiReCon. Jenny Kangasvuo - "Comparing the Experiences of Finnish Bisexuals in 1999 and 2009".

What does this increased visibility of bisexuality mean for people who identify as bisexual? What kind of contradictions do bisexuals meet when tackling with everyday life? And what kind of meanings does the concept of bisexuality get in their lives?

I will illustrate these questions by telling some of the stories of my informants.

I have three stories to tell and the first of them Ella's story reflects the changes in Finnish legislation regarding sexual minorities.

I will skip the first slide and come back a bit later.

And the first story is an ordinary story.  Ten years ago I made a joint interview with Ella who was born in 1975 and Taro was born in 1978. A young female couple who both defined themselves as bisexual. They described themselves as a lesbian couple that consists of two bisexual women - the word lesbian in their use referred to the form of their monogamous relationship, a relationship with another woman.

Ella also says that they have a lesbian lifestyle - according to her, having a bisexual lifestyle would be possible only for singles or people who have multiple relationships, so lesbian lifestyle means means that well, two women and no extra persons in addition . Most of Ella's and Taro's close friends were lesbian and many of them even contested the term bisexual with which they defined their sexual identity.

And then, in 1999 Taro said, "but I could not be with a man only even if I loved him.  I would need to be involved with women too.  But when I am with a woman I can very well be without seeing any men at all."

So according to Ella they were leaning on lesbianism even if they described themselves as bisexual.

In December 2009 only Ella answers to my request to make a new interview. And her experiences reflect during the last ten years refect the changes in the legislation.

And Ella says that her story is an ordinary story among her reference group, and she herself uses the term reference group referring to lesbians with children so Ella's reference group is lesbians with children.

She says: first everybody married in a hurry when it became possible, and then everybody started having kids while it still was possible and the result is the wave of divorces that is happening now, it is totally terrible.

And now let's get back to those changes.  And there is a list of changes. [slide]

And Ella's life reflects these changes perfectly.  Ella and Taro registered their partnership right after that, right after it became possible, and then Taro gave birth to two children.

And the artificial insemination became judicially available for female couples in 2007 but Taro gave birth to her kids before that.   The lovers became mothers and Ella says sarcastically
that anything else all but being a good mother became superfluous

Ella and Taro were active members in the community of rainbow families - well I don't know if the term [audience murmurs] at least most of the people seem to recognise it - families with children, sexual minority families with children, something like that.

However after the second child Taro became depressed and started abusing prescribed drugs.  So it was quite startling to hear that bisexuals seem to have more mental health problems like Meg told during the first session - I was, my mouth ajar gave when I heard that because it I am not a health researcher but my interviews seemed to reflect the same thing.

Anyway, Ella tried to hold the family together but after a couple of years Taro took the children and left her because of another woman.

They divorced and Ella started to fight to attain the rights to be a judicial parent to her children.  Currently she is in a process to adopt her children since adoption became an option only in 2009.  And these changes had had a profound effect in Ella's and Taro's life.

Taro became pregnant twice within two years, through artificial insemination partly because Ella and Taro feared that the new legislation would deny the treatment from same-sex couples.  So the law passed and artificial insemination is possible for same sex couples or female couples but before that it was a real fear that only married heterosexual couples would get artificial insemination so Taro had to get pregnant as soon as possible for fear of not getting to have any children at all.

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