Interview with Carol, 18-19, British, middle class, Protestant. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LJH33)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Carol, who is very musical and hopes to make a career out of it one day, perhaps in music journalism. Sex education in her secondary school in Sussex came much too late - many of her female peers were leaving school early due to pregnancy. She didn't think that public health campaigns around AIDS were very effective and that they should be more direct. Carol hasn't had a sexual relationship yet and is waiting until she feels as if she might be ready. She thinks she would practice safe sex in terms of condom use, but understands that some young women can find this tricky to navigate. Carol identifies as a feminist, though her peers seem to have a negative and limited understanding of who a feminist can be.
Reanimating Data Project
CC BY-NC 4.0
Q: ... surprise to me because I knew - I sort of send the questionnaires out in little bulks,
little clumps, and so I know - there should be some coming back now. And this one just
came out of the blue and I thought... so it was a very nice surprise.
A: Are you interviewing a lot of people?
Q: Quite a lot, about sixty odd.
Q: We're doing the study in London and in Manchester so we're interviewing a similar
sort of number up there as well. What we're interested in in the research is to try to find
out how young women feel and think about their relationships. What would you say is
the most important relationship to you at the moment?
A: At the moment. My best friend.
Q: What's the most important thing about that relationship for you?
A: Well, she's just like the closest person nearest to me.
Q: Have you known her for long?
A: No, not really. I've known her - we used to go to school but we didn't really know
each other, and then recently we just started - we're both very interested in music, and
so like a common interest, and we share a class... class and we just got talking. And we
found out that we really get on well, so - I think that's my closest relationship at the
Q: It's lovely when that happens, isn't it A: Yeah.
Q: - when you suddenly sort of click with somebody.
A: I was really surprised 'cos I remember her in the fifth year and the fourth year...
Q: Mm. Which school were you at?
A: I was at... NAME OF SCHOOL for two years... just moved up to London then.
Q: Where were you before?
A: I was in Sussex, in Chichester in Sussex. I lived with my mother...
Q: Had your parents separated quite a long time ago?
A: Oh yeah, they split when I was seven. I always lived with my mother... a lot of the
reason I came up...
A: Well, my mother had been remarried and... my stepfather really hated me, so
eventually I just couldn't stand it, so I'd just had enough so I came up here.
Q: And was it okay... had you kept a good relationship?
A: Oh yeah, we'd always kept in touch like, constantly... long time, so that's no problem.
And he's also remarried and so... It's much better.
Q: That works out okay - you get on okay with his wife?
A: Yeah, very well...
Q: It must be difficult, to suddenly - I mean to find that you're not getting on with this
person who's so important to your mother.
A: Yeah. It was kind of strange 'cos ever since I moved away our relationship has
changed very much but... because we're very very different. But in some way she's very
close to me, you know, obviously. But it was very strange, 'cos it was like she was in the
middle and we used to row and stuff like that. It was basically, at the time she was very
dependent on me before I left, and it was basically I was evil, I wouldn't do anything, so I
had to leave, and my father like tried to get me away... and now - now the relationship's
a lot better and she's now divorced so it's a lot better.
Q: How does your - you said that you were living there with your brother...
Q: Is he older or younger?
A: He's younger. He's sixteen... He's close to her, close to my dad. There was a lot of
talk of both of us coming up here... It just worked out this way. And it's fine.
Q: It must have been a bit of a turmoil at the time.
A: It was, it definitely was.
A: Going through all that and then starting a new school, and I had to... as well...
different exam boards and everything, so I had to restart my GCSE courses and... it's
not too bad.
Q: What about leaving your friends down there, I mean that must be hard.
A: Yeah, it was fairly hard but we weren't really - I had friends but we weren't really that
close, we didn't have a lot in common. They used to think I was a bit strange.
Q: Yeah. Why was that?
A: Because I was just really into the music and they just thought I was a bit mad or
A: But, you know, I still write to them sometimes and stuff like that... some of them...
send a Christmas card to, people that...
Q: And you were able to build friendships here once you got here?
A: Yeah, gradually. Because I was very shy, but I just - when I came up here I just
basically thought, if I don't try and make friends then I'm just gonna be really bored, so I
just really tried... really shy.
Q: That sometimes works quite well, doesn't it...
A: Yeah. (?) doesn't seem to work too well sometimes.
Q: Yeah. How's that?
A: Well sometimes I'd think I'd do something I didn't want to do but I was too shy to do it.
People would say, you're not shy, you ought to do it. But I suppose that's good, that I'm
not really shy at all now. It's kind of - I suppose I grew out of it. I guess. It's about time.
Q: The music sounds terribly important to you.
A: Yeah, it is.
Q: Do you hope to make a career A: Yeah, eventually.
Q: What - what do you play?
A: I play the saxophone. Very badly.
A: And I sing. It's just - I have to do it basically. And I know I will. It might take me a long
while but I know I will.
Q: Are you in a group at the moment?
A: Kind of. You see, my brother is a... and my friend plays bass so we just kind of play
together. But music kind of - it's hard to explain, but music means too much to just play
with anyone, you've got to get it right, so there's just the three of us at the moment... It
just happened and it's good, 'cos none of us are quite good enough to do much at
present. Except my brother, but my friend and I are definitely not... but I guess come the
time, we'll improve.
Q: Do you write your own material?
A: We started to, but we've had a lot of advice and so we just started to play other
people's stuff as we start out, just to learn what we're doing. My brother writes a lot of
music and I write a lot of lyrics, 'cos he's more musical at the moment...
Q: It's quite exciting to have something like that in your life which is important.
A: Yeah. It's quite strange 'cos a lot of my friends don't know what they're gonna do,
they just have no idea and they're just planning to go to university... course and they
want to go on to do some other kind of whatever, they decide then. But I know exactly
what I want to do, it's just the difficulty of going on to do something that will please my
father, that I'm actually doing something solid and definite, and also it would be good to
have something to fall back on.
Q: So what do you think you'd do - you're doing A-levels now, do you think you'll get do some more qualifications or A: Yeah, hopefully. I'll do some - do some further education, I'm not sure what. I don't
mind what it is, I just wanna stay in London. So - and I'm not sure what I want to do
either 'cos it's not - it's not my main priority.
Q: Yeah. A bit difficult really, isn't it. Something may catch your attention A: Yeah... I may try and do journalism, some kind of journalism, a media kind of course,
because I'm interested in that - well, kind of, hopefully, 'cos... extra qualification for
something like that.
Q: Yeah, so... particular group or A: No, it's just anyone, anyone who'll... desperate enough to want to be in it.
Q: So what do you do, do you interview people?
A: Yeah, it's kind of strange being on the other side of the Q: Yeah.
A: Doing this all the time. It's really weird...
Q: No, that's quite interesting too, isn't it. I've got a friend who does - he's now gone
back to - well gone to... He used to live here and he used to write for a MAGAZINE so
he used to interview quite a lot of famous people to... magazine...
A: ... if I could get into that kind of thing, journalism or something.
Q: Yeah. Have you got any contacts?
A: A few, mostly the actual musicians, because the people who are surrounding the
record companies, people... record companies, they - people in the music business tend
to lie. That's just part of their job I suppose. But yeah,... once they realise that I'm not
just some crazed... we really have some quite good conversations... contacts, have to
Q: Do you think the musicians lie or the people who surround them?
A: The people who surround them. The musicians are very strange people, the ones
that I've met anyway, but they tend to not really know what's going on... It's hard to
actually get to people like that because of all the people surrounding them.
Q: What - what do you - I mean is that - is that part of having it as an idea for your own
career, did that appeal to you, or what is it that appeals to you?
A: The idea of working around music and people, musicians and people who are
interested in music, and 'cos I already - this is what I do already... carry it on... not be
easy, but to carry it on and - it'll be fun 'cos I enjoy doing it now, and also if I have more
- if I work for an actual magazine that people have heard of perhaps, then I'll have more
opportunity to meet people and stuff and... Which is true, that you don't sell many
copies... so a lot of people aren't too interested in being in it...
Q: Yeah. Well, as you say, it's probably good experience for moving onto something
else - something with a bit sort of wider circulation.
Q: What sort of thing would your dad like you to do, I mean does he - does he put any
pressure on you, or is it just that you feel you'd like to please him?
A: Well I like to please him but he he does put pressure - he doesn't... He doesn't - he
basically wants me to do something I can strive for, that I can get a decent standard of
living, that kind of thing, and is actually perhaps realistic, 'cos he doesn't really - he's
very - "sensible", I don't know if that's the right word. He doesn't see music as a feasible
thing, he thinks I'm just messing about. Which is really fair enough in a way, 'cos I
suppose he just like worries... won't be able to support myself or something, or that I'm
just gonna concentrate on this and it's gonna come to nothing. But he wants me to do
something - possibly get some kind of qualification where I can do a lot of things and
just choose. He's worried about me getting stuck in a rut because people he knows
have got qualifications and - just for one specific thing, and they can't do anything else,
and they like - they've been doing the same job for twenty years and they try to get out
but they can't 'cos... so he - he talks to me a lot about that kind of thing.
Q: Like keeping your options open A: Yeah.
Q: - and making sure that you do have some options, presumably.
A: Yeah, definitely, yeah.
Q: Well, that sounds reasonable, I mean it's not too bad - not too heavy pressure.
A: Not really.
Q: Maybe it is a bit too (laugh)... Right.
A: School reports and stuff are a bit risky kind of thing, because - if I'm perhaps late a
couple of times he... I get into trouble, it's that kind of thing.
A: ... emphasis on... horrible...I see them first and then I show them to him.
A: Yeah, definitely. Because I mean I know I'm getting - I know I'm doing work and I
know I'm gonna pass exams but it's justQ: - that he realises.
A: I can do without the unnecessary pressure. I'm glad I can do that actually, I'm glad...
Q: ... approach towards... Well I mean you are that much older now, I mean not just you
personally but people... at college, it's not quite like being at school.
A: ..., which is good.
Q: ... One of the things that we were asking about, as you saw from the questionnaire,
about sex education - what sex education you had and what you thought about it, was it
any good? What age were you when you went to...?
Q: Right, so - did you get any there?
A: Not there. I got some in my school in Sussex when I was about second year. They
just told us about contraception and stuff. It was a very strange kind of situation 'cos a
lot of girls - it was very weird, a lot of girls in my year at the time who left school 'cos
they were pregnant.
A: Yeah. And so it was a really strange situation having, you know Q: Yeah, that's - so many of the young women I've spoken to have said that, that, you
know, people were already sexually experienced... information which was too late.
A: That's true... my stepsister was... and some of her friends, they started having sex
when they were about twelve and stuff. And I really think you should have sex education
earlier. Because they're - they're really not happy, they're taking on a lot of problems
much too young, and... But - I don't know, maybe it wouldn't make a difference. I
suppose we should...
Q: Well I think the information would be helpful probably, wouldn't it?
A: Yeah, certainly to a lot of people.
Q: You say in the questionnaire that you haven't had a sexual relationship A: No.
Q: How do you feel about that, I mean, have you got strong feelings about it?
A: Well, I guess I do - the thing is I just think, when I'm ready I'll know, when I meet the
right person, 'cos I'm not prepared to compromise.
A: So it'll just happen when it happens.
Q: You said - you said - projecting into the future, you said in about three months' time
you'll fall in love.
A: Did I?
A: Was I being serious?
Q: Well I was wondering about that because it seemed like - it seems - I mean you can
imagine falling in love in the future, but to say, well, you know, that'll happen in three
months' time A: Why on earth did I write that?
Q: Well, I thought maybe you had somebody in mind, or you'd decided that the time
would be right in about three months.
A: I probably meant - muddled - I probably meant that I could perhaps, I might be ready.
Q: Yeah. Have you ever fallen in love?
A: No, not really. Not what I consider properly, it was very...
Q: What sort of person would you pick for it, what do you - what do you prefer?
A: Someone who listened to me 'cos there's so many - I know some - a lot of male
friends who just don't listen to women, ever. And that really really annoys me intensely.
Someone who listened to me basically, someone who shared an interest and could
understand when I start freaking out about something and stuff like that,... going on.
Just basically someone who shared my interests and - a nice person.
Q: That seems a reasonable requirement. Sometimes it's so difficult to find - they sound
as if they're reasonable but people don't seem to match them sometimes.
A: I know, that's true.
Q: Yeah. Have you had many male friends in the past, I mean, boyfriends A: Yeah. Like some of my closest friends are male. I have a friend who I've known for
quite a few years, a friend of the family. He's one of my best friends. He - he - I wouldn't
like to be - I'm glad I'm his friend, 'cos he's a bit of a - I don't know. Just a typical man.
Q: I was gonna ask about that... Do you think there's a kind of double standard... seem
appropriate for young men and young women?
A: Definitely. Even - not - even just in everyday life, just behaviour; 'cos my friend and I
tend to be rather - sometimes rather loud, and we just talk, and there's so many girls
that just let the boys talk, and that just irritates me intensely. And then there are sexual
double standards as well, and I just - I don't keep quiet about my views about them.
A: It puts a lot of people off... But I do get very irritated with my friends who talk about
girls in one way and like boys in another... very angry.
Q: Is that your male friends or your female friends or both?
A: It's usually the male friends, although some female friends - they don't so much - I
don't know, they're not so much against the boys as against themselves. They set
themselves almost impossible standards to live up to, and then they'll accept anything
from their boyfriends... But you can't say anything to them 'cos they just - I don't know,
that's their attitude.
Q: Mm. It's complicated, isn't it really, the sorts of pressures that are on you A: Yeah.
Q: - at that age, to get into some kind of relationship. But you stood out. You'll wait till
someone you really want comes along.
A: Yeah, definitely.
Q: Do you go around in a group...?
A: Not so much, we often - it's just the two of us, and then when my brother comes to...
it's the three of us. But they are - like various people like, this friend of mine... we have
friends in common. We go out and stuff. But not really one specific group, there are a lot
of people that do go round in gangs and stuff... But not really...
Q: ... sixth form centre. One of the other sixth form centres that I've been to they were
sort of clear, a very clear grouping. Somebody was talking about... very clear groupings
of people... belong to different groups...
A: Yeah,... not so much actual music that's kind of... 'cos I go to all the different concerts
and I like all the different kinds of music, so Q: You don't get identified with one particular group.
A: No... into like the heavy metal and they all wear leather jackets and all the boys have
got long hair and stuff like that... boys with big trainers and stuff like that... I don't like
dress-codes and stuff like that.
Q: Yeah, that was another thing that people have been talking about, about certain
things that you have to have A: Yeah, oh, yeah...
Q: ... Yeah... Right, 'cos they're into it they wonder why you're not.
A: Yeah. It's true. I talk with people about... music and then I wonder why they look
bored - "How can you not be as interested as me?"...
Q: Well it's hard when there's something that really engages your interest...
A: Yeah, I know what it's like, I must be really boring sometimes to people who aren't
interested in Q: Hopefully not. Or at least not all the time.
A: No, hopefully not.
Q: One of the - I mean one of the things that we are looking at in this research is AIDS,
and how that's affecting people and what they think about it and so forth. When do you
think you first heard about AIDS?
A: Well, I'm not sure how long ago it was now, but you know when they had things like
the massive scare and there were all these programmes on TV about it and - just
before, you know when it just came into news then... gay plague and all that kind of
Q: What did you think about that, the idea of it being a gay plague?
A: I just thought it was dreadfully sad. But then, you know, you find out it's not - it's not
at all and - it's still very sad but Q: What did you think of those ads, the kind of tombstone ads and things like that?
A: Ridiculous, I really did. Because so many people - I mean no one I know would
respond to something like that. They just really wouldn't. I think they've got to be people... said about some of the new ads were too explicit and horrifying and stuff, I
think... I think they should be much more horrifying and should scare people just
completely, because they need to be. They need to be scared because people just
think, it's not gonna happen to me. So many people I know who - it's just really worrying.
Q: Are you worried about it? I mean obviously this doesn't affect you personally at the
moment but I mean are you worried in principle about it?
A: Yeah, but I think - although I say this from, you know, my position at the moment, I'd
be careful, very, very careful, 'cos it's just not worth not being careful particularly. I can't
understand anyone who would put themself at risk in that way. I can't - just can't
comprehend how anyone would be that wreckless.
Q: What do you - do you think you know enough about AIDS? What do you know about
AIDS? What is it?
A: It's a disease that you can develop if you contract... catch HIV virus, and there's a lot
of people saying you can catch it and not never get it. But Q: What, you have the HIV and you don't develop AIDS, yeah, some proportion of
A: But it's like... take the risk.
Q: How - how is it transmitted, how do you get it?
A: Intravenous drug use, sexual contact.
Q: ... into your bloodstream through body fluids. And the AIDS - AIDS itself is... whole
series of things...
A: Breaks down your defences... a cold or something like that.
Q: ... So do you think that people just don't - I mean they don't realise, there's not
enough information for them to understand?
A: Oh, definitely, I think people I know, some of them, not all of them obviously, but just
some of them really need a good... because something's gonna happen to them, you
can just really tell. They'll be lucky if it doesn't, but - I think we just definitely need to
know more about it, definitely.
Q: You think there ought to be more information available in schools?
A: I think it should be more direct and just, it should scare people more, basically.
Because that's the only way they're gonna... yeah.
Q: Was there any stuff on AIDS at school?
A: They handed out - you know those leaflets that everyone got through their door - they
handed out those. But that was it.
Q: ... What about safe sex, what do you understand as - what... what is safe sex?
A: Basically I guess have an AIDS test. And use a condom...
Q: That's basically I think the safe sex campaign. Though some of them recently have
been saying things like if you don't have penetration, if you do other things,... I mean
what do you think of as sex? When you say "sex", what do you think of?
A: Just any sexual contact basically, just generally.
Q: What, not only sexual intercourse?
Q: So I suppose safe sex would be a whole load of things that didn't include sexual
intercourse. If people think of sexual intercourse as being the whole point of sex it
seems a bit difficult A: Yeah.
Q: But you think you can imagine... sort of things. I mean have you - have you had a
relationship with somebody...?
A: No. No. When I came up to London I was much too shy. But ever since I came to
London I haven't really - the two years I was in school I was just completely working
because - I don't know why, I just suddenly went on a work binge. So I wasn't really - I
didn't really have any social life at all, I just wasn't meeting many people. And since I've
gone into the sixth form there has been a lot - the social life has been intense at times,
but I just really haven't met anyone.
Q: When you say that you're worried about AIDS, do you think that you'd feel okay
asking somebody to use a condom?
A: Definitely. Because it would be like my embarrassment or being in danger, and
there's no contest, if you ask me.
Q: Yeah. You're right, yeah. Some people do find it difficult...
A: Yeah, yeah, I can understand that. I think when it came down to it I'd rather be safe.
Q: What about pregnancy, would you be worried about pregnancy as well?
A: Yeah, definitely.
Q: I think that's one of the things - I mean amongst the young women that I've talked to,
their initial worry would be pregnancy sort of thing, I mean AIDS comes quite a long - far
distant second somehow.
A: Yeah. I think it's mostly because you hear - because - if I did get into a sexual
relationship I wouldn't - I think I'd need a lot of advice about the contraception. 'Cos we
really didn't learn enough at school. What we did learn there's a lot of new things
coming out about, about the pill. I wouldn't want to take the pill... and all that kind of
stuff. So that would worry me.
Q: Yeah. Well you'd have to get some good advice. The Brook Advisory Clinics that you
can go to - which specialise in young people really A: Yeah.
Q: - and then there's local clinics usually... that's quite good. I mean people are
sometimes critical of those sorts of organisation and say that they push the pill on you
or - but other people say that they have really, you know, sympathetic and concerned
A: It's better that, not necessarily the pill, but it's better that they do get - people having
a sexual relationship, they do get advice like that because otherwise they're not gonna
not have sex, so there's gonna be a lot of - a lot more problems if they don't get any
A: So those people that say that... permissive society...
Q: - and that you'll encourage them by giving them...
A: Yeah, it's ridiculous.
Q: You said - you clearly don't take any risks, or you don't plan to. What about other
areas of your life, do you take risks in any other areas of your life?
A: What - what sort of risks?
Q: Well,... drinking and smoking are risky.
A: Well, I drink. Not often, not to excess - well, not usually to excess. I don't smoke and I
don't smoke anything and I don't... alcohol, that's not really a habit, just a social drink. I
don't think I take any other kind of risks... concerts and things and try to get to the front
and get crushed and pulled about, I usually end up quite battered but apart from that Q: Yeah.
A: - apart from that I don't think I take...
Q: ... Do any of your friends do drugs or anything like that?
A: Yeah, yeah. It really worries me, some of them, 'cos they just - I suppose I might be
quite naive about drugs and stuff because I've never tried any, but just - I can't see the
attraction at all. But they do, some of them take..., whatever, it just astounds me.
Q: Yeah, yeah....
Q: What do you think makes you - I mean sometimes when people around you are
doing it it kind of - it can appeal, you might give it a try or something like that.
A: Yeah, sometimes - I mean a lot of my friends, well not all my friends, smoke dope,
and I often do get very tempted to try it, but I just don't, I don't know why, I just don't.
A: I don't know, I don't know, I just don't. Because I'm not interested. I don't - I really
really object to hard drugs, I just really - it's very, very silly, and - but I don't think of dope
in the same way, quite the same way. I mean I still think it's a drug, a lot of people say
it's not a drug and should be legalised and everything, but - and so I don't object to it
quite as much, but I just - I don't know why, I just never have. Plenty of opportunities to Q: Yeah, I was gonna say, in that sort of music field and stuff A: Oh, yeah, definitely Q: - quite a lot of stuff lurking around.
A: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
A: Musicians are just - actually it's quite - quite strange, actually... kind of people I hang
Q: What would you say was your image of yourself, if you had to kind of describe
yourself? Not just how you look but...
A: I don't know. A hard question.
Q: I thought I'd surprise you.
A: I'd say I was very absent-minded and shy, not so much outwardly shy but just certain
things just scare me really badly, basically interaction with people, meeting people
where I have to be professional and stuff and... music business because... situation I
get into, and I just get so scared to do it because of like they just might look at me and...
a kid, she's messing about. So I think I'm really shy. I suppose I'm quite sensible, in a
way, I suppose...
Q: You sound quite sensible, if I might make a comment.
A: I've got a bad temper but I hate taking it out on people. I can get very, very, very
angry but - if I think of actually trying to probably hurt the person that I am angry with
then I just... I don't know.
Q: Where do you think the anger goes then, do you think you - I mean you don't let it
A: I don't know, I - no, I never let anger out, that's my main problem.
Q: Does it sort of lurk around inside and come out in some other way?
A: I guess so. I guess it builds up because there's times when I get just more and more
and more angry and each time - but I never show it to people... shut the door and sit
there clenching my fists, and try and calm myself down.
Q: Do you think you punish yourself...
A: ... guilty kind of person, a lot of guilt. I get angry with myself 'cos I feel so guilty. And Q: What's the guilt about?
A: A lot of things. Mostly about my family. 'Cos I think sometimes I've let... down. But 'cos in a way, my idea of what I want to do now... and their idea is very different. Well, I
wanna please them but I - I can't just, you know, plan my future to please other people
'cos they're not gonna... So I feel guilty... when I say things like that.
Q: But you do seem to try to do - I mean, do a bit of both somehow, you're not sort of
completely alienating them.
A: Yeah, yeah. It's just we're really not on the same kind of wavelength at all. They think
I'm mad. They think I'm going through a phase or something.
Q: ... But do you think you're mad, if people have this image of you that you're mad?
A: I suppose Q: Does it reflect back on you?
A: I suppose the way people react to me sometimes, I think I must be mad.... But I just I don't think I'm mad, 'cos I think a lot goes back to the fact that, because I'm female, a
lot of - a lot of women don't voice their opinions and stuff like that, and when they do it's
like they're a bit strange. I think that's why they think I'm mad.
Q: Mm. It's not acceptable to be a sort of assertive woman with strong views A: Yeah. It's like, when I go to a concert, my friend and I usually we only go to the front,
we like to be at the front, we like to be - join in with the crowd and everything. We get
some very, very strange looks. And also a lot of people think I'm a groupie and stuff, a
lot of my friends... 'cos I just go to concerts and stuff like that. And then I try and
persuade them that I'm not... I suppose because I'm just so assertive, I just - I refuse to
be a certain kind of person, because I just couldn't live like that. Maybe that's why
A: Yeah. 'Cos I - I have very strong views about people should be whoever they want to
be, and if people try and tell me what I should be like and what I should do as a person,
what I should believe in, I get very angry, that's one situation where I have to hold my
anger back. I just... Yeah. I have friends who - girls who are quite shallow because they
just don't - they're very insecure, because they just don't know themselves and they're
just trying to live up to a certain - 'cos they've been brought up this way, and
conditioning and all that kind of thing - and they feel inadequate 'cos they don't live up to
that, and it makes me very angry. Because why should people have to - why should
people have to be like another person - there are women like that, and that's fine if
that's who they are, but if they're not, then they shouldn't have to be. It's like - I don't
think all women should go out to work and stuff like that, if they don't want to that's fine,
they should be allowed to choose whether they want to or not, and that's the main thing
Q: Mm. Not be pressured by...
A: So - I suppose I'm quite outspoken about that kind of thing.
Q: Would you call yourself a feminist then?
A: Yes, I would. There's a lot of people say I'm not a feminist but Q: Right.
A: - but I say I - yeah, I definitely am... everyone, it's not just women, everyone should
be who they are. You shouldn't try to be something you're not. But as a woman... quite
hard for me...
Q: I too... another friend...
A: ... wearing dungarees and having crew cuts...
Q: Do you think many of your friends are sympathetic...
A: Yeah, I would say so... ever have meant to be a feminist, who never think they
Q: Well, what's their image of feminism, then, or feminists?
A: Man-hating, like militants, you know, just really extreme people, I guess. I don't know.
(?) Feminists can't be good.
Q: Yeah, I was just interested to find out... (tape change)... complicated... Have I left out
something crucial? Is there anything you want to ask me?
A: ... kind of people... kind of girls, you said you'd interviewed about sixty people, are
they very different or are they Q: Oh, yeah, that's why. It's been really fascinating. 'Cos we're - it's quite - for the kind
of stuff we're doing, it's quite a big age range really, from sixteen to twenty-one, so
people's experience is incredibly varied, really varied, and - and there isn't any way of
knowing, you know, I mean, apart from - we do have that questionnaire which gives us
a bit of an idea of their background, but you never know when you talk to somebody
exactly what their experiences are... And I mean - so it's hard to say - in the end we will
write stuff about it and we'll try to draw out interesting things,... that will be useful for
other people, that's the point really, interesting things... What we want to do is to feed it
into AIDS education, health education A: Oh, right, yeah.
Q: - and health education for young women in general, because, you know, talking
about sex education... quite inadequate and too late A: Yeah.
Q: - and just finding out what young women's views about that are... useful... So I mean
basically - I mean we're doing it also because this kind of intensive research hasn't been
done on young women, so we're doing it for that reason too, finding out, you know, what
their... speaking about homosexuality... So I mean, I mean it's totally fascinating and we
shall write... in the end. The other thing that we're interested in doing is - is getting back
to people next year, maybe not quite in a year's time, depending on how our funding
goes, but would you be interested in doing a re-interview sometime next year?
A: Yeah, fine.
Q: Great. And the other thing we're asking young women to do, which I know is a lot
more difficult, is to keep a diary for us for a little while. A lot of young women keep
diaries anyway, but giving it to somebody else is...
A: Yeah. I tried to keep a diary once but I just couldn't do it, I don't know why.
Q: Mm. No, it's - I mean it's a very personal thing, some people feel they can do it. I
mean I don't know. We sent out a whole lot to people who said they'd be interested in
doing that for us and it's soon that we shall be expecting them back, so... Okay, well I'll
bear you in mind, you'll probably still be up - up the road doing your exams... A: Oh, yeah.
Q: Well that's about it, it's been lovely to talk to you, thank you very much for helping us
do it. Do you think any of your buddies might be interested, I mean some people at the
sixth form centres - I mean we sent a few questionnaires...
Q: - but not many people agreed to do it, I don't know if it was the wrong time of year or
whatever. Anyway we - we might approach again.
Q: What sort of age?
Q: What if I gave you a couple of questionnaires?
A: Yeah, fine.
End of interview.
18,2; ESW; A levels (Eng lit; theatre studies); lives with pa, step-ma (his wife) and her
daughter; Ma lives in [SOUTH EAST COUNTY] with brother; Pa is [MANAGERIAL
ROLE]; ma is self-employed [ARTISTIC ROLE]; CoE but not religious, more humanist;
heterosexual but has not been sexually active yet.
Attractive, with below shoulder length straight dark blonde hair, very slightly plump, very
casually dressed in track suit trousers and T shirt (it was Sunday morning). This yw had
had some trouble with her step-father (ma's husband) some three years ago. Up till then
she had lived with ma and brother in [SOUTH EAST COUNTY], parents split when she
was 6. She did not get on with step-pa and they had big rows, with ma in the middle.
This affected her relationship with ma, which had been good prior. Pa keen that she
should get out, and three years ago she left to come and live with him, his wife and his
wife's daughter (who is about 15/16 and goes to [NAME OF SCHOOL], as did LJH33
once she came to London.) She feels keenly the desires of her family over what she
should do, especially pa, who wants her to get good qualifications which leave her
options open, not tied to a particular path. She wants to please him, do some form of
HE/FE but is undecided what. Her main focus and interest is in music. She wants to be a
music journalist and to pursue a career as a musician as well. Pa does not think this is
serious, just a phase she is going through, but as far as she is concerned "This is it."
She plays saxophone (not very well) writes lyrics and sings. In a small band (just for
developing their own skills) with her brother and her best friend. Brother is good guitarist.
She was relaxed in the interview, tho described herself as shy, although thinks she is
improving on that. Had forgotten that she filled in questionnaire, given it to tutor last
term, who only this week sent it to me. She does interviews with minor (in fact any)
musicians she can persuade to let her for the fanzine which she runs, so felt a bit funny
being on the other side of the tape recorder! Those situations, when she has to be
'professional' and interview someone, who may just think she is a 'silly kid' scare her.
She seems to get angry about a lot of things, and repress it, especially in relation to her
family. Sits in her room with clenched fists for 10 minutes. She also gets angry about the
way women are expected to be, and thinks people think she is 'mad' because she does
not accept that. Hates double standard and sees it in her male friends, would call herself
a feminist, knows people (friends) who would say 'I'm not a feminist but'. Thinks that is
true of a number of her friends who would cringe at the thought of being thought a
feminist (bcs fems are man-hating, aggressive, whatever) but do agree with some of the
ideas. (Is this post-feminism, or second generation?).
She is not sexually active, used to be very shy, when she first came to London threw
herself into the schoolwork (bcs it was a different exam board etc) and although her
social life is very active now, she meets no-one who meets her rather exacting
standards. When she stated the standards they did not sound so exacting, someone
who would listen to what she had to say, accept her as she is. She seems not to think of
sex as just intercourse, but I may have done a little bit of leading there, by bringing up
safe(r) sex first. Safe sex did mean condoms and 'taking an AIDS test' for her initially,
but then she seemed to think about it and see other things as potentially sexual.
Her AIDS knowledge was quite good, she is very scared by it, thinks young people are
not (spec her friends) and should be, and that education and advertising should scare
them. Make them realise the risks. Says she would definitely ask a guy to use a condom,
if it is a question 'of my embarrassment or my safety I know what I must do'.
I must admit that I wondered whether there had been something sexual in her rejection
of the step-pa, if something else had gone on there, but she certainly did not speak
about it and I may be off the wall. I mean, the people she mixes at one level with (in the
music business) are into sex and drugs and rock and roll, and she is not at all into the
first two by her report at all "maybe I am naive" - the latter was said in relation to drugs.
Also, since she goes to concerts a lot of the time, and she and her close female friend
rush up to the front (which could be a bit risky in her view, you do get bruised and
pushed around) where it is mainly men, they get both odd looks and people think they
are groupies. Seem to be some contradictions here.
In her image of herself she thought she was sensible, tho others think her mad. Part of
that is in refusing to be what is expected of a girl/yw of her age, she speaks her mind
instead of sitting quiet and letting the boys/ym take the lead.
Seemed to be a lot here which I don't know whether I could get to. She agreed to be
interviewed next year, but not to diary. She also took away a few questionnaires for