Interview with Aisha, Indian and African heritage, working class, no religion. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LSFS20)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Aisha, who would like to work in accountancy. Her parents both come from traditional faith-based cultures, but Aisha isn't too worried about things like arranged marriage - she will have some choice and flexibility in who she wants to marry. She had basic, biological, formal sex education at school, though was offered a course in emotions and women's rights, and had some interesting debates with her friends on topics such as abortion and early marriage. Aisha hasn't had any romantic or sexual relationships yet, and is more concerned with doing well in school and forging her own career. She would like marriage and children in the future, but not until she is in her mid-twenties - her friends think this is too late in life.
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Q: Maybe you could tell me a bit more about your family A: My family?
Q: Yeah. Like you say you live with your parents and a brother and two sisters A: Yeah.
Q: How old are your brother and sisters?
A: My brother's sixteen, I've got an older sister and she's twenty and a younger sister
and she's fifteen.
Q: So you're in the middle of your two sisters.
A: Yeah. Well my brother and sister - my brother comes up to sixteen Q: Oh, right, and you're seventeen A: I'm seventeen.
Q: Yeah. And is that - do you get treated as an older sister or..
A: Well I do sort of but I mean it's mainly like my little sister and brother just treat me
like their age. They don't like - 'cos we've only got one year difference, we all like we don't act as if, you know, who's older than the other, we just - together the same.
But I mean we act like - my older sister because like she's got three years'
difference, so we treat her like she's an older sister.
Q: What does she do?
A: She works in [REDACTED], she just does...
Q: And I notice that you wanted to do accountancy A: Yeah, I've just got this interest in like numbers and figures, I've got an interest in it
so I like it.
Q: Is that what you've been doing exams in, or will do exams in?
A: Hopefully I want to do A-level maths Q: What, and then do an accountancy course?
Q: That's good. In terms of - like this research is centred around relationships - what
would you say is the most important relationship to you at the moment in your life?
A: Relationship? What, you mean my family or Q: Your family or girlfriends, boyfriends, or any relationship at all.
A: Well it's my family, I suppose, and like my best friends in school. Because I mean
like they're all the same, like they're going through the same thing as me, so I feel as
if like I can talk to them, I can't talk to them as like I can to my parents, but like with
my friends it's alright, 'cos I mean like they're going through the same like exams, like
the same stress, so I can talk to them, I don't talk about that to my parents, I don't
think they'd be interested. Well they would, but I mean...
Q: Do you talk to them much A: My parents?
Q: - in general?
A: Yeah, I do. But I don't really go into like my schoolwork, my personal life outside
school... I don't really tell them anything.
Q: Why is that?
A: I don't know, it's like, I suppose my dad's the more traditional type, he's still like...
sort of thing, ...he would wanna know but he wouldn't really... sort of thing.
Q: What, he wouldn't see it as particularly important?
Q: What about your mum, what does she feel?
A: My mum, well she, she'd listen but I mean - I don't know - she'd keep it in mind,
she'd listen to me, but... my dad... I talk to my sister, my younger sister, and my
Q: So you can share things that you're feeling with them?
A: Yeah I can, with my younger sister I can. I don't tell anything to my brother.
Q: What about your older sister?
A: She's a bit - I can't really tell her from... I don't know, she's a bit - I don't know, she
just doesn't like - she'll want to know, but then she wouldn't be really interested after
I'd told her, she's just one of those people that would wanna know what I'm talking
about but couldn't be bothered. But I mean she's like, she takes after my dad, she's
more traditional. Like my younger sister like I was saying, I can talk to her about
Q: And would you say that you were a close family?
A: Yeah, I think we are... because... talk... we sit together, like many families don't
eat together but like we do, you know, we watch telly together,...
Q: Do you go out together as well?
A: Yeah, like weddings or celebrate birthdays, going out somewhere, the seaside or
something, outings, we all go together.
Q: And everyone gets on?
Q: That's quite unusual. And where did your parents come from, were they born here
or A: No, my dad was born in EUROPEAN COUNTRY, my mum was born in... in EAST
AFRICA, there's two opposite things. There was like - there was like sort of
arranged, I mean like how they met, because my - my dad's sister's husband, so my
dad's brother in law, he had a sister... cousin's sister, so that's how they met and
they got married.
Q: So it wasn't an arranged marriage? or was it?
A: Well they didn't really - I don't think they'd seen each other or something, and then
they met about a month or two and then they got married and everything.
Q: But it was something that their parents A: No, it wasn't the parents, it was like his brother in law that said like I got like
there's this cousin who's like they're looking for someone to get married... set up.
Because like my dad was - when he was seven he got married Q: Seven?
A: Yeah, and that broke off Q: I'm not surprised. Except I suppose if it's arranged A: Yeah, that was arranged by my grandad - my grandad Q: So did he break it off? Or did A: Yeah, I think they broke - they just couldn't live together, they argued all the time,
Q: Did they actually get married?
A: Yeah, it was like - but it was only the Indian ceremony, though.
Q: So your father's Indian as well although he's born in EUROPEAN.
A: Yeah, and he's Hindu. He doesn't - he can't speak any LANGUAGE or anything,
he was just born there.
Q: Have you been over to India or A: Yeah, I have, I've been twice to India.
Q: Did you like it?
A: Yeah, it was alright. It was a bit dirty...
Q: Do your parents think that you should have any kind of arrangement like going...
A: I suppose - I reckon that my dad and my mum are thinking about it that I should,
but I mean it's changed because now you can say yes or no. Before like, if they set it
up, you had to get married to him. Like with me I'll say yes or no, it depends whether
I like the person or not, there's a difference.
Q: So does that worry you at all, or A: No, 'cos I can say no as many times as I want to. I'm sure like if I like somebody
else and kind of told my dad, I'm sure he'd understand about it.
Q: And - and if you met somebody that you liked, that was nothing to do with your
parents, what would happen then?
A: I think, well it would take a bit of time for my dad to like come to terms with it, but
then... accept it for my sake.
Q: 'Cos your older sister, has that come up with her at all?
A: Well she's getting married.
Q: Is she?
A: Yeah, she just got engaged two weeks ago, it's like somebody that she met up
with... and they've known each other for such a long time as well, she writes to him
and he writes to her as well... get married.
Q: And that was alright with your parents.
Q: And - in the questionnaire under the question talking about health and sex
education, I mean it seems that you knew quite a lot of things before ... school.
A: Yeah, I mean you learn from your friends and, I mean you - like because like
before you're in the fourth year like friends, I mean we all used to sit together in
break, and like the subject used to come up, we just used to talk about it, I mean you
wouldn't expect it but we just used to talk about quite sensible things like abortion...
Q: What, have discussions?
A: Yeah, at lunchtime, we used to just sit there and talk about it.
Q: Was that interesting?
A: We did find it interesting 'cos like we really used to get into it, I mean like talk and
we used to get like two people who were against it and with it.
Q: No, it sounds like... productive... And did that happen a lot, I mean on lots of
A: It did. Something used to crop up and everyone used to join in. There were about
seven or eight of us that used to like sit together, something used to come up and we
used to talk about it. People used to find like... talking about things like...
Q: So how many of you were there?
A: Between seven and...
Q: All girls?
A: We used to just like talk about things like whether we'd get married early and...
things like that.
Q: And did they ever talk about - or did you ever talk about sort of more aspects of
sex in general?
A: Not really - well... not really about sex, but we did talk about like marriage and
things, abortion, but we didn't really talk about sex.
Q: So did you learn those sort of things at school?
A: At school, yeah.
Q: And was that useful in terms of, you know, you understood it and it was -
A: Yeah, I suppose it was.
Q: What sort of lessons did they do?
A: Science, biology, that was like... the end of the first year, beginning of the second
year. Well I learnt a bit from my fourth year from junior school, about periods
because like some girl started and it was the first time, and she wanted like to know
about it Q: - she didn't A: - she didn't know, so I mean they drew diagrams and told everyone about it and
like I knew that...
Q: Mm. Had your family talked to you about periods or whatever?
A: My mum and my sister, my older sister,... like they would talk to us about it... (?) if
anything happened... things like that, but...
Q: And what about more kind of intimate things about sexual intercourse or A: No.
Q: - masturbation or A: No.
Q: - anything like this A: I haven't really talked...
Q: Do you talk to anyone about it?
A: Masturbation, things like that?
A: Not really.
Q: But is that something that they talked to you about at all in school?
A: Don't - I don't think they talked about masturbation in school really, you hear it off
friends... but I mean they haven't talked about it in school.
Q: So did they cover other kind of things about feelings or A: In school? They used to have this course... emotions and stuff and things like that,
about your careers, they used to talk about a wide range, about your rights and
women's rights, things like that. But I mean they've stopped it now...
Q: Really? Why...?
A: No, there was this girl that wrote to the papers and was interviewed about this
course and said that the headmistress forced her to kind of talk about... what was it,
cut out Margaret Thatcher's picture and put on this naked woman or something she
said something or other and it was on the paper and then after that they abolished
the course and they didn't do it after.
Q: That seems rather a shame.
A: I know. And then the girl left the school and then it was all on the papers... but so
much of it was wrong, misleading.
Q: What, the story was wrong A: Yeah.
Q: - rather than the lessons were wrong. Was that when you were here having the
A: Yeah, but I think we started the course when I was in the fourth year... or the third
year and finished at the end of the fourth year or the fifth year. Because of... many
people didn't like the course and they started to bunk the lessons, not go to that
particular one, they didn't used to find it interesting.
Q: Was that because it could have been interesting but they didn't make it interesting
A: Mm, I suppose Q: - or because people just weren't interested in those subjects?
A: I don't think they - I don't think they made it interesting. It wasn't very good, I mean
it was just like you have a sheet and then they'd just talk about it slightly and then
you were just supposed to fill it in... I didn't really like it.
Q: Did they get any kind of outside speakers or anyone talking about things that
were going on...?
A: I think career-wise I think they did, they got people like from different places, from
different jobs, and they talked about their jobs.
Q: But not to do with say, if it was an issue about your feelings during relationships,
marriage, abortion, A: No.
Q: - things like that, 'cos some people come and talk about that from the outside.
A: I don't think they did. But they only like - they were teaching... come along and talk
about contraceptives and showed you different things... out of school...
Q: And what about things like AIDS, did they teach you about that?
A: AIDS. I don't know, I don't think they did, not AIDS. I don't think - I mean, well, we
must have learnt from like we used to talk about it like amongst us, or hear it from
the telly or leaflets that were given...
Q: So how much do you know about AIDS now?
A: AIDS, well, the usual, I suppose, the main thing, that like wear a condom and... in
sexual relationships, cut down on your partners.
Q: How do you feel about that?
A: I mean I suppose it's valid...
Q: And what do your friends think, when you talk about it?
A: I think they think the same as me really, I think they find it quite disgusting if
people have got so many partners and they haven't got a like steady relationship,
that's what they Q: Have they got steady relationships?
A: No, none of them, I don't think they have.
Q: Do they have relationships at all or A: I suppose... about, about a month or two and that's it, finished, things like that.
Q: So do you have a relationship?
Q: No. Have you had any?
Q: Is that because you haven't met anyone or because you don't want to?
A: I don't know, I've seen - I've met a lot - I don't know, I just don't find them like
interesting I suppose, I mean I like them but then I just, you know, I can't be
Q: Are you more interested in other things or is it that no one's sort of asked you that
A: No, I think - I don't know, I - I do like them but I just - I don't think I'm ready I
suppose, I think I'd rather concentrate on my work first and my career and my work
at school, and then I'd think about it. I think I'm more a career person.
Q: If you did meet somebody, would it be alright for you to kind of go out with them
and things like that, or would your family feel that that wasn't quite right?
A: I think my family, well my mum and dad, they wouldn't - they wouldn't want me to,
but I suppose if I wanted to I might just be ... have to get around them.
Q: Could you do it?
A: I think I can get round my dad. Not my mum so easily. My brother can get round
my mum but I can get round my dad.
Q: So how do you spend most of your time like social time?
A: Friends, like we go out in the evenings, or like in the evening sometimes might go
to my uncle's, go out for a walk or something; do my homework.
Q: Do you go out much during the week in general?
A: Not really. It's mainly spent on homework.
A: I know.
Q: And when you do go out with your friends and things, is that girlfriends or A: Yeah, girlfriends. Like if they want to bring their like boyfriends or anyone, we just
let them come. It's mainly girlfriends.
Q: And what do you go and do - 'cos... quite a large group.
A: Oh, we just - Yeah. Like sometimes we used to go like just to eat in Wimpy... like
at Christmas we went to Garfunkel's and ate there... alright.
Q: What, so you sort of sit around?
A: Yeah. Sometimes we go to Oxford Street and just walk around there and go in the
Q: Do you go to people's houses at all?
A: What, for friends or Q: With friends.
A: Well if it's like somebody that hadn't (?) come with us, one of our friends then we
go to their house, just talk to them.
Q: And so do you meet new people through that or is it that you've got the same
group of friends A: It's the same group of friends really that we... I don't think anybody new comes, it's
like maybe, what, two in every ten I suppose.
Q: Do you ever go to the like cinema, things like that?
A: Yeah, cinema, yeah.
Q: Is that with a group or A: With a group...
Q: So did you say that you've got a special girlfriend that you go out with?
A: Well there's - special one, (name), she was out there, you saw her, with short hair
Q: Right, yes.
A: Yeah, well, she's my best friend, but like the others, they, they are close but not as
close as (name). I mean like (name)'s the same age as me, I treat her like a sister - I
don't know, ... sister... I mean I always talk to her about things that I wouldn't talk to
my - my little sister either.
Q: So if you have any problems A: I do talk to (name), I think I've told her everything.
Q: And do you feel you have many problems, up till now?
A: Not really. There was one time that - it was just... when my mum was pregnant
and for about two weeks... but then like the baby had died and that affected me, I
didn't tell anyone, and then I told (name) about that... just talked to me. There was
another time that my dad had a heart attack and in the morning we went to school
and then - he nearly died but I couldn't tell anyone about that, I was so upset I didn't
know what to do, and then I told (name). And then I went on an outing, we went out
for a week to (?) OUTDOOR LEARNING CENTRE, it was with the course. I didn't
wanna go but my dad told me to go, he was in hospital, and then he had three heart
attacks in one and he nearly died, I mean I didn't even know about that... I really
didn't wanna go, my dad told me to go, 'cos it was part of the course. And then when
I came back I found out then.
Q: Was he a bit better by then?
A: Yeah, he was much better. I think it's been about two years now.
Q: You must have been really upset. But could you not talk to anyone except your
A: About my mum, I wasn't too sure whether to tell anyone, 'cos I was - I think I was
fifteen, fourteen,... a younger brother or sister, but I was like fifteen, fourteen... really
young,... and I wasn't sure whether to tell anyone. I was going to but then...
Q: Yeah. Yeah. You really need someone close that you can talk about things like
that to. Does she talk to you about her problems too?
A: (name) - I don't think she - maybe... - I don't think she's -sort of like what I - things
that I've gone and said to her... If I say something to her she might just turn round
and say yeah,... like I don't get on with my uncle and she turns round and says, it's
the same with me, I don't like mine either. And we talk about that and the way they
Q: But you couldn't say these sorts of things to your family, or could you?
A: I do.
Q: You do.
A: My mum and my sister. I mean we all feel the same, so - we usually say it when
my dad's out because it's mainly his side that we don't like. We all sit down and say...
Q: And have a bit of a moan. What do you think about the future in terms of - of
marriage and children?
A: Marriage, God. My mum and dad want me to get married when I'm about twenty
but I don't really want to. I'd rather get married when I'm about twenty-five. My friends
all come round and say, oh, twenty-five's too old to have kids. They're always turning
round and saying things like that and you think, oh, God.
Q: But some people don't have kids til they're forty.
A: They think it's too late 'cos by the time the kid's about two, three, you'll be about
Q: And will your parents find you someone when you're twenty, have they talked to
you about it?
A: No, I think they'll keep a look-out but then I mean if somebody turns up I could
always say yes or no.
Q: So is that something you feel aware of at all, or conscious of?
A: From my sister I've learnt a lot because I mean it's just happened to my sister, so I
know what's going on and what's happened to her. I mean at the moment, because
she's just got engaged, mum and dad like really treat her like an older woman now, a
married person, yeah, and like they still treat us like kids - if they talk about marriage
they sort of say like, go and sit somewhere else 'cos you lot'll muck about, we want
to talk (?) sense. I know what it's like, I mean my brother and sister, we always moan
together and then my brother and sister turn round and say, you'll be getting the
same treatment, don't worry about it.
Q: Do you feel that you could sort of handle a relationship yourself?
A: I suppose I could, yeah.
Q: 'Cos do you ever think about that - kind of what it would be like, a boyfriend?
A: It does make you think... maybe it might be different, you might act different.
Q: What about things like sex, what do you think of that?
A: I don't think - I don't know, going out with somebody, but I mean having sex with
them, I think I would need to be really close to make a decision like that. I think I
would need to be really close...
Q: And would you have sex with somebody before you got married or A: If I thought that I was that close to them, yeah.
Q: Would that upset your family?
A: It might. I think it would actually.
Q: And do they ever talk about things like that or A: No.
A: I don't think they would expect it before you get married
Q: And has that happened to your sister or does she not speak about it?
A: She goes out with him but I mean I don't think they'd expect her to have sex, well,
not yet. I don't think Q: And do you know if she does, does she ever talk to you about it?
A: No, she doesn't.
Q: So have any of your friends actually had sexual relations?
Q: So it's not something that's actually come up, that people have discussed and
said, oh, or whatever A: No.
Q: - it was like this. So what - are your expectations of it, do you ever think what it
might be like or what you might feel?
A: I do think but - it does make me think that I might change, I suppose, and have a
sexual relationship or something. I don't really think about it that much, I mean it
does cross my mind.
Q: 'Cos like some girls are either curious to lose their virginity, to see what it's like
sort of thing, or others see it as some kind of chore kind of thing they've got to do...
A: I don't - I don't really think about losing my virginity, at the moment I think I'm just
concentrating on work at the moment, I don't want any sexual relationship...
Q: But if you had one, would you see it - I mean would you expect to have some kind
of pleasure out of it or does it seem a bit like something A: I suppose I would expect pleasure from it.
Q: But is that something that you - you would actually expect or demand from it or A: I would expect it.
Q: And if you had a boyfriend would you be kind of aware of things like contraception
A: Yeah. I suppose. If I wanted a sexual relationship I suppose I would use
Q: Do you know what you'd use?
A: I think I'd rather use the pill, I can't think about using anything else. I don't really - I
mean we've seen them and... use the pill.
Q: What about things like AIDS, does that come into it at all?
A: I suppose it does, but then I suppose like the idea of to use a condom, I suppose.
Q: But it doesn't sound like you'd really want to.
A: I don't know. I don't know.
Q: Is that because you don't like the sound of it or A: What, AIDS?
Q: No, a condom.
A: Condom. I don't know, it just makes - I don't know. I don't mind if a person uses
Q: No, I'm just interested to see how people anticipate kind of what they might do
and how they might feel about sort of different aspects - I mean some girls are very
kind of open about all the aspects, how they...
A: Oh no, I don't.
Q: And others sort of just think about it as an afterthought.
A: I think I think of it as an afterthought... I think I've got a friend who just kicks it
round for a joke, just to show everybody she's got... I don't think I will...
Q: Do you think AIDS would be anything you would think about if you were having a
A: I suppose - I think I would, I'd be like, you know, scared, think oh God, he's
probably got AIDS or something, I would think about it.
Q: 'Cos you - do you think that there are people who are most at risk?
A: Who do I think is most at risk?
A: People that I mean have got so many partners I suppose...
Q: There's no one that you sort of know of who you think... at risk?
A: No. I don't think so...
Q: And did you learn at all about the actual kind of biology of it, did they teach you
that or A: No, they never taught us about... they just told us about AIDS and said, right, cut
down your partners.... I don't think - they never talked about AIDS...
Q: So they haven't said exactly how it's passed on and how it kind of develops and A: They might have - they haven't said how it develops, they might have said how it's
Q: Well, like, you know, what sort of symptoms people might show or how... develop
into a full blown disease.
A: Not in school, they didn't talk about it at all.
Q: I'm quite surprised 'cos there were quite a few campaigns over the last few A: ... unless I might not have been in, I'm sure...
Q: Do you think you're the sort of person who takes risks at all?
A: No. No.
Q: Not at all?
Q: Is that because you - you sort of want to be kind of safe in general?
A: Something to do with it. I wouldn't wanna... because I mean...
Q: What about taking risks in other sorts of ways A: Pregnancy or Q: Well, kind of pregnancy or - or simply things like bunking off school or A: I've bunked a lot of times. I've got caught as well, it was Q: So you didn't mind bunking off school A: No. It was Miss (name) that caught me out as well.
Q: Was it?
A: She was my form teacher. That was like, it was alright ... it was just like at the
final... it was like one or two lessons... four weeks left after the exams... it was like
after the mocks I hadn't been going and then I started to go... very strict on myself
that I have to go.
Q: And do you take risks in any other way like smoking or drinking or -
A: I do drink and I do smoke but I don't think - like my mum or dad doesn't know that
I - they'd be shocked if they know, if they did find out.
Q: Where do you drink?
A: It's just like us, like friends, I drink with them.
Q: And what do you drink?
A: Well we mix up things like (?) thunderbird, Martini...
Q: Have you ever been drunk?
A: Not really. I haven't drunk as much as...
Q: And how often does that happen?
A: Well, it happens like - I don't know, once every two months I suppose, once every
- maybe like, if we've got the money.
Q: Yeah, you've got to have a bit of...
A: Smoking, I mean I used to smoke really a lot but then I thought I'd stop. 'Cos the
thought came to my head that I mean, say if I got pregnant and I couldn't stop myself
from smoking, it just came to me, I just thought about it, and I thought to myself that
it would damage the baby if I - so then I started - I cut down. I mean I hardly ever
smoke now, I mean it was just like - it came into my mind and I thought, my God, and
I hardly ever smoke.
Q: So you couldn't have got really addicted to it before A: No.
Q: - otherwise you wouldn't have been able to stop.
Q: How many did you smoke before you stopped?
A: Before it used to be something like ten a week, ten to twelve a week.
Q: Do your friends smoke?
A: PRIYA does... she does. Most of them don't.
Q: And do you know anyone of your friends who has anything to do with drugs.
A: Mm. Yeah, I'm just shocked about one of my friends - I mean I knew she drank
and she smoked, but than I mean I just found out that she started to take drugs and
it was just like - a joint, just smoking. I found out. I mean you see it quite a lot in the
sixth form... but personally myself I don't think I'd ever - I think drinking and smoking
is the limit with me, I don't think I'd ever deal with drugs.
Q: Have you ever been offered drugs?
A: I couldn't. I just couldn't face it. Because for me I think drinking and smoking's the
limit with me. That's what many of us think out of my friends. There's one that's tried
it once... I don't think she's ever done it again.
Q: So it doesn't sort of attract you at all?
A: No. It makes me think what it might feel like, but then I wouldn't try it.
Q: And do people go round here... in the sixth form smoking drugs, do they actually
sort of go out in the grounds and...?
A: Yeah, they're all out there. I've seen them smoking in school.
Q: What, smoking joints?
A: Yeah, in school, I've seen them. I wouldn't go round and tell the teacher, I mean
it's up to them if they wanna do it, they do it, if they get caught it's their problem. 'Cos
I mean they know what the risks are, smoking in school.
Q: And do you think - I mean you sound like someone who's - who's fairly in control
of - of what you want to do, I mean like, if you decide you don't want to smoke any
more you stop smoking, and maybe, you know, drinking's alright but you don't do it
every week A: Drinking, I think I drink more than I smoke, I do drink more.
Q: But do you think if you decided to stop drinking you could do that?
A: I could, yeah. Because I mean, I mean just - I read in a book I mean, once you
have the craving for drinking you become addicted. I mean I'm not addicted to it, you
know, I just socialise with my friends, that's all. I mean if I wanted to stop I think I
could. It gets to me sometimes...
Q: And do you - when you go out with your friends and there's boys around, do you I mean do you all sort of drink together?
A: ... like as a friend...
Q: 'Cos what do you do when there's a whole group of you and there's boys...
A: Well when we drink, no, it's just girls.
Q: And when you do have a boyfriend, how do you think the relationship will be? Will
it sort of... decisions...
A: If I was with my friends I think he'd feel left out because I'd be there with my
friends and he'd feel left out. I think that's how they all feel with my friends because
they'll just feel left out, 'cos like you know that you're - you're the only person like, like
you're with their friends... it would be alright but he'd still feel left out, out of
everything. I think he would anyway.
Q: But would that mean that you'd then go off on your own with him?
A: It's unfair both ways, like if I stayed with my friends it would be unfair on him, if I
went with him it would be unfair on my friends.
Q: It's awkward, isn't it.
A: It is, yeah.
Q: But it hasn't come up yet?
Q: What do you think you might do if it did?
A: I don't know. I don't know. I really haven't thought about that 'cos I mean... have to
Q: And do you think, like whoever it is who you go out with, would you expect him to
make most of the decisions about what you do, how you organise A: Well, like I'm the type of person I mean where I don't mind what happens, so I
suppose I wouldn't mind if he did. Or if he asked me I wouldn't mind making some
decisions, like fifty-fifty sort of thing... decisions...
Q: But then if you - say he wanted to have a sexual relationship or anything like that A: If I - I - if I wasn't up to that, if I didn't think it was that close, I'd just say no.
Q: You - you'd feel alright about that?
A: If it comes to like sexual relationships and I don't feel like that then I'd say, I
wouldn't sort of stand by and say, alright, I don't mind. It depends how the
Q: Yes, it's really difficult to say until you're in it.
Q: But presumably you've got some A: - Yeah Q: - fairly good ideas of what you'd do.
Q: And is that how - do you talk about that amongst your friends as well?
Q: So those sort of things don't really come up A: They don't really come up.
Q: Yeah, 'cos it sounds like more issues come up with your friends like kind of
A: - yeah Q: - or marriage, rather than actually what you personally each do. Or might do.
Q: Would you like to talk about that?
A: I wouldn't mind.
Q: But nobody suggests it A: No... as a group... wouldn't like expect a big group, like we didn't know... I
suppose it's alright between us like, because we've known each other about six
years so we can tell that... if it was a big group... I don't think most of us would say
the things that we do amongst ourselves.
Q: And do you actually learn things from each other at all, you know, if a subject
comes up and someone's been doing - 'cos I'm wondering about, you know, other
things on the list like sexually transmitted diseases and homosexual relationships
and things like that.
A: We do talk about homosexuals like - like one of my friends believe that like there
shouldn't be, he's a boy this friend, he believes that there shouldn't be any
homosexuals and they should stick - like everyone should be heterosexual and stick
to the opposite kind. But he - I mean I don't mind if there are homosexuals or
lesbians, it doesn't really bother me. And I mean this boy turned round, he said
like ... one of my friends believed about AIDS, to stop AIDS going around they
should keep them in a room and just shoot them down.
Q: What, homosexuals? - or A: Well, people with AIDS. Shoot them down, I mean - I wouldn't do that. I mean I
wouldn't think that Q: What, this is one of your friends or A: Yeah. I think she just came out with it. She's - well I think she said her brother
thought that, that's what her brother thought, that they should be kept in a room and
Q: Did she say why?
Q: Did people argue against her?
A: I don't think they did. They just thought, she's saying stupid things, and that was
the end of it...
Q: 'Cos do you think there should be more discussed about things like that?
A: Yeah. I think there should. I mean if people have got AIDS, they've got AIDS, they
eventually die anyway, but I mean I suppose you need to know someone really well I mean many people nowadays are just - I mean they have sex with people I
suppose they don't even know who they are, like go to parties and things like that.
Q: Do you think that happens nowadays quite a lot?
A: I don't know. I think it does, I - I think it does.
Q: What, amongst people that you know here?
A: Ah, no, I just - I just think it does.
Q: So you don't think it might have changed at all with the AIDS?
A: No. I think maybe people might have tried to be slightly safe, using condoms,
things like that. I don't think they've cut down on partners really, just started to use
Q: And do you think you'll have many partners or - how do you see...
A: No, I think I've got to (?) find someone before I have a sexual relationship, I can't
just go up and go off with anyone, you know.
Q: So you would like to say, meet somebody and that, that would be it...?
A: Mm. No. I mean if he wasn't that - if I didn't see - I mean if I liked him, you know,
things will turn out the way I wanted them to, how they could have been, but I mean I
wouldn't have a sexual relationship with...
Q: Is there any other way that you'd kind of describe yourself as a person?
A: I don't know. I suppose... I've got... (tape change)
Q: You were just saying that you were - you were a happy person.
A: Yeah. I suppose when I'm depressed I feel like really depressed, I just sit there, I
don't talk to anyone, I can't... I don't know why I feel depressed, I just feel it. When I
am... I think I am - I don't know. I don't know how to describe myself...
Q: Do you worry about things?
A: Well what kind of things?
Q: School, friendships, family?
A: Friendships, I don't really worry about friendships, family I don't, school like I do
Q: So what do you think at the moment is the most important thing in your life?
A: Exams. I'm doing them again. I mean I didn't get - I only got four or three, I got
four. Sort of like I was hoping to start my A levels this year but now... I don't know
that I could cope with it. But I think... revision...
Q: There's one more thing that I forgot to ask, in terms of - just getting back to the
AIDS issue - do you know what is usually meant by safe sex?
A: What, just using a condom I suppose.
Q: Well, yes, but there are sort of other ways of having sex which don't involve
intercourse A: - yeah Q: - which are also referred to as safe sex. I don't know if they taught you...
A: Hardly ever. Just the thing about biology, just like things like how babies develop,
I suppose, something like... AIDS developed. I don't think they go into it. They might
mention that it's a virus going around, and that's it...
Q: Are there things you feel that you should have been told about, that you'd like to
know or A: Well, AIDS, they give you like leaflets and advertisements and people should be
told... I mean the way the telly ads - you should be scared of having sex with
someone. They put it like, it's a scary advert, you know, be aware.
Q: Do you find it scary?
A: I don't find it scary but I've heard my friends say they made it really scary, that it
scares them to have sex with someone. I'm not really scared.
Q: Do you think the adverts worked at all?
A: No, I don't think they did.
Q: No, it seemed to me that they weren't really getting... really helpful. Can you think
of anything that you'd have?
A: If they were visiting like the AIDS clinics, you know, see people with... That would
Q: Is there anything else that you've felt at all, kind of about those sorts of issues,
that you've wanted to know and had nobody to talk to, in terms of relationships and
A: Well, relationships I suppose, with - kind of people... talk about friends...
boyfriend... people like talk about that, see how they feel and what they do. Do they
choose their boyfriends... discussion...
Q: No, 'cos that's, as you say, a real decision that - that girls must make.
A: Just see like what people do and why they do it, so it would help like some people
to begin to think a bit more.
Q: Do you know what you might do...
A: I don't know. I really don't know. I suppose I'd have to cut it down, like maybe say
like half the week... friends... just share it out, I suppose.
Q: Do you feel they... three or four?
A: Well I suppose, with a boyfriend I suppose the relation would develop and then
you'd know from that. But... I've known my friends for quite a long time, so I think
they'd be more important than a boyfriend, 'cos you know Q: It would be a shame to lose your friends... Yeah.
LSFS20 9.6.89 [NAME OF SCHOOL]
Asian girl with shoulder-length black hair, wearing rather conservative navy blue clothes that
I think were possibly school uniform? Was quite shy and reserved although fairly confident.
She has a group of girlfriends that she goes around with, they talk about lots of things,
although it sounds as though they discuss issues like marriage and abortion, but not actual
sexual feelings or practice or any of the nitty gritty intimate things. These friends are very
important to her. They had sex educ. in biology and also in something called PSE - Personal
and Social Education - which was supposed to be more about feelings etc. but she says this
has been stopped now after some girl wrote to a newspaper complaining about what they
were taught in it etc. Does not seem to have learned all that much about sex ed. at school or anywhere else? Doesn't have very much knowledge about AIDS and tends not to think it
is very relevant to her situation. She has not ever had a boyfriend but she does say that she
would have a sexual relationship before marriage if she felt that the relationship was close
enough, Her older sister, who is 24 and a [FINANCIAL ROLE] is getting married soon. She
herself wants to do a course in accountancy when she leaves school.