Busybodies over the fence: diverse relationships and implicit stigma in the country


The aspect of stigma is just one part of a mostly positive whole; this thesis found overall positive aspects of FWBR. Attitude change to be supportive of relationship diversity, and sexuality generally, is needed.


One of the interesting things that emerged from my data analysis was that while nobody used the words stigma or discrimination, there was an implicit assumption for some that if their sexual relationships were known that it would be a problem. I presented on this at a SEXRurality conference on 22 July 2015.

Link to the presentation, which uses Lego pictures denoting relationship types: LKirkman Wednesday22July_SEXRurality

There is a belief that in a rural area that everyone knows, or at least takes an interest in, everyone’s business. This makes secrecy about relationships difficult to maintain. With that knowledge comes social  manipulation to conform. Participant Bella’s* decision to remain on the farm after her husband’s death was, like her relationships, unconventional, and subject to community scrutiny.

No one, everyone stood back and watched when my husband died, and thought, oh, she’ll just come into town [low voice] and, you know, but…

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About fwbresearch

This site is to inform people about an Australian study exploring the experiences of rural baby boomers in friends with benefits relationships. The research team consists of Linda Kirkman, a PhD candidate in Health Science at La Trobe University's Rural Health School, and supervisors Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift and Dr Christopher Fox. Posts include presentations about the research, publications, and reflections on sexual health promotion.

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