Interview with Sam and Jess. Sam is 16-17, White British, middle class, no religion and Jess is 16-17, White British, middle class, Protestant. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LSFS78)
Anonymised transcript of interview with Sam and Jess. Both are single at the moment and have had sexual relationships in the past. They both believe that AIDS awareness campaigns are relevant to them, but they're not sure how they would negotiate a conversation about it with a sexual partner - they are more worried about pregnancy. They have some interesting thoughts on the expectation and reality of sexual relationships, and think there should be much more opportunity for female sexual pleasure. Sex education was mainly from the playground or from older siblings - formal sex education from school came much too late, and they would have liked to have covered more of the emotional aspects of sex and had more open conversations around masturbation.
1989-04-06 00:00:00
Sue Sharpe
Reanimating Data Project
Temporal Coverage
Spatial Coverage
CC BY-NC 4.0
extracted text
LSFS7/8 06.04.89
Sam and Jess
Q. You were saying that you just don’t think about it, is that because..?
A1. Probably because I'm not in a sexual relationship at the moment, but because I don’t think
people our age think of it that much.
A2. No, they don’t.
Q. It doesn’t seem relevant?
A1. It is relevant but they don’t talk about it.
A2. It is relevant, but I think with everything though, people always assume, they say, "oh it will
never happen to me". It’s not that you’re not bothered but then when you actually come down to
thinking about it, if you are on your own or something then it is worrying. It’s like a drama I saw
on telly about AIDS, which was really good. It was about a man and a woman and he had had a
fling about three years ago and it was a one night stand thing, and then three years later he got
through a letter saying that you have got to go to a clinic and just saying sorry and this girl's
name. And so, then he went to the clinic and found out he had AIDS, that she had given him
AIDS. And I thought, seeing that and he had a wife and daughter and the way it affected them
was terrible, and after it left me thinking, oh my God.
A1. But it’s not something you think about though is it, say there is a possibility that you are with
somebody, it doesn’t cross your mind because sometimes you feel that you know someone but
of course you don’t know, nobody is going to come out and say 'well I have just had three
sexual relationships in the past month or so, how do you feel'.
Q. Yes, so you don’t really know all their intimate past history or anything like that?
A1. Yes, and you can’t expect to know, that’s the weird thing, because it is personal, isn’t it.
A2. Yes, but even though it’s like when you have been out with a boyfriend or something and
then even if it is for two weeks and you thought you liked him, and then there was nothing in it
and then you find out things about him, like he went out with this girl and you know that this girl
is just a really dirty nasty girl who sleeps with anybody and everybody and then you think,, oh
God he was so nice, how could he go with her.
A1. And then you might have something.
A2. Yes, that’s it.
A1. No, it’s just like people's past are difficult, and I think because of that, because it is personal,
when it comes to AIDS it’s personal, that people instead of being open about it and just coming
out with the questions they want to ask, they just shove it under carpet and think let’s just get on
with it and hope that nothing is wrong.
A2. It’s like a ruin to the evening sort of thing, isn’t it. You have been out for a nice meal and
gone back to the flat and there is nice music playing and you have a nice glass of wine, and all
of a sudden he turns round to you and he says, 'have you been for an AIDS test?' And you say,
'oh, yes, I have, but you know, it’s OK it’s negative, have you?', 'yes I'm negative as well'. OK
and then you can get back into the swing of it. And you just can’t get back into the mood that
nice mellow, and suddenly crash and you are expected to carry on. You will be thinking, well,
why did you ask me that. Hang on, if he has asked me that he must have something to hide.
A1. No but condoms are like that, you find that, say you were in this big romantic thing and there
are condoms and you are sitting there, it’s like an interval. While it all goes on and then you
have to start up again. 'Hang on a minute'.
Q. Yes, it’s just- hold it there.
A2. Don’t go any further.
A1. While I put a condom on.
Q. Do you find that in that situation you would think about it or use a condom or anything or not?
A1. I think I would now. Especially if it is somebody you don’t know, and I think you have to.

A2. It’s not just AIDS, it’s any disease which you can get, just wearing a condom can prevent
any disease, it’s not going to stop you catching something but it can help, but it’s just the fact of
actually, when the moment has arisen and then it is, "oh, have you got a condom on you".
A1. It’s just, like, a downer.
A2. Oh God shuffle round, I have got to put something on, I've got to run to the chemist. Do you
know what I mean, you come back thinking oh God, I don’t feel like it now.
Q. Who actually says that, the man or the woman?
A1. It depends on who the people are I suppose.
Q. Has it happened to either of you?
A1. What?
Q. Actually getting into a situation like when you were joking about it, saying oh hold it, let me
get my, or have you got one?
A1. Yes, you do though. Sometimes you feel that if they are not going to say anything, it’s like
waiting for the other person. It must be because we probably all say that boys are bad because
they don’t want to do it, but they must feel as bad about it as us in different ways because they
are at risk as well. Alright, they can’t get pregnant, but they could catch something from you,
even if, they don’t know you that well so it’s in their minds who has she been with, but it is like
this thing of getting it together to ask. People start sort of hinting maybe and then maybe it will
come out and otherwise it doesn’t, and you just hope for a couple of months that everything was
A2. Yes, but in one situation… This boyfriend I was with, even though I didn’t sleep with him the
whole time I was going out with him, as you are growing up and you talk about it, and he said
"oh it’s alright, I will use one" and even though we didn’t anyway, but that was a reassurance.
That was good, because even though that wasn’t on my mind that he might have AIDS it was
more likely of getting pregnant or something, but that is a lot nicer than saying, you might have
AIDS, I will have to use a condom.
A1. Somebody coming out with it.
Q. So are you both in relationships now?
A1. No.
A2. No, not now.
Q. But you have been?
A2. Yes.
Q. And were they quite long term?
A1. No, I have never been in a really long-term relationship.
A2. I have been in long term but that wasn’t like a sexual relationship, it was when I was a lot
Q. In the sexual relationships you have had, has it been kind of someone taking the lead in the
sexual activity or has it been more equal?
A2. Equal, I think. But that’s the way I am, I want to be equal all the time. So there is no way if
somebody says to me, "yes do this", I won’t do it if I don’t want to. But that is me anyway, that
applies to everything.
A1. But what she is saying, do you wait for the guy to say, "well here we are shall we do it?", not
like that but that’s what it all amounts to in the end isn’t it. Do you wait to go, do you say?
A2. No, I have never said that.
A1. But why not?
A2. Why haven’t I ever said let’s go to bed?
A1. Yes because I have never done it but I am wondering why now, because if we are all that
equal, to have done it you must have wanted to, he couldn’t just have suggested it and then you
thought yes. It must have been on the cards at some time, you must have thought about it.
A2. Yes, you think about it but then again what you think and what you actually do is actually
two different things, isn’t it.

A1. So you wait for the guy to make the first move whether you like it or not?
A2. Yes.
A1. I thought I was quite an equalist then, until you said that.
Q. Is that because of not feeling confident about it or because thinking you would be seen like a
tart or something?
A1. Yes, it must be not feeling confident because.
A2. Yes, that’s the thing nowadays though because it comes back to the thing where a bloke
can go out and have ten girls in a month and if a girl does then she is just an old slag. But to a
bloke, it’s yes, well done, sort of thing.
A1. That’s society though isn’t it?
A2. Yes, that’s society.
Q. Double standards?
A1. We are waiting for this man to say because that's his role, he plays that role, but he must
feel like, why doesn’t she ask. She must want to, why doesn’t she ask.
Q. Yes, they must get a bit fed up with it. Shall I risk it, or will she slap my face.
A2. I feel that, personally speaking, that I would rather be in a long-term relationship rather than
just go out and meet somebody and go home with them.
A1. I think most people would in their heart of hearts. Because it’s a load of shit then isn’t. All
this 'I don’t want to do this anymore', breaking off relationships and then feeling bad about
things. It’s nice if it’s long term just for the fact that it’s going on and it’s quite certain, you are
quite sure.
A2. It depends on the person themselves doesn’t it, because I don’t know whether it’s to do with
some people have got a higher sex drive than others or what but girls my age, some of them will
go from boyfriend to boyfriend and they will sleep with every one of them. They are not really
bothered, they say, well I'm just enjoying myself, I'm young and it’s up to me. That’s fair enough
if that’s the way they want to lead their life, I have got no criticism against that, because that’s
them and they are doing what they want to do.
A1. But I think even though they seem to be just enjoying themselves they must be looking for
something in each of those relationships that would last, but because it hasn’t they have come
to terms with it and gone on to the next one. I know that sounds weird, but.
A2. Yes, I know what you mean.
Q. Do you know people who do that?
A1. Yes. It’s nothing big really. I am not just talking about one night stands, going from one night
stand to another because that person, you would have to admit to yourself that they are having
some sort of a problem, but people who just have one boyfriend that maybe lasts a couple of
months or something, but you know they are looking for something, but that person wasn’t right
and they are not getting too worried about it, so you shouldn’t either. Don’t judge people by how
many men they have slept with because that would be stupid. But talking about the man taking
the lead, so what happens in like two gay men together, is it natural.
A2. There would be a dominant one I presume, would there?
A1. Who makes the running then?
Q. I imagine it is similar in the sense that somebody who is more confident and takes the role.
A2. But then especially at our age then I think that if I was in a relationship and I had been in it
for, say, eight months, and then it was starting to turn into more of a sexual relationship then yes
I probably would suggest, actually me suggesting going to bed, but if it is just a month you have
been with somebody.
A1. But then you would know them after all that time. So it would be alright.
A2. It would be alright because you know each other and you know, but I think there is a fear
that people, if you sleep with someone they will be going back to their mates and saying, 'oh
yes, she was alright', or 'she was useless'.
A1. Or she came on to me or whatever.

A2. Yes.
A1. Don’t go out with men like that.
A2. No that’s right but then how do you know what a person is like. You can’t can you?
Q. So have you had one-night stands at all. Maybe you didn’t intend them to be one-night
stands, but they turned out to be one-night stands?
A1. Not a one-night stand as in you didn’t know them. No, I didn’t really know the person but it
A2. You just met them?
A1. Yes, and we got sort of stopped for whatever reason in the middle of whatever was going
on, but I felt ashamed. Thinking about it now I only felt embarrassed and ashamed because the
person that caught us was really having a go, really prudish. "You don’t even know each other".
But I don’t think I would have felt that bad about it.
Q. Apart from being interrupted.
A1. Yes. That’s what I think and I think you are made to feel bad because one-night stands are
always seen as sordid or rather shallow or 'how could you do that', but they could be something
really nice, because things happen at the moment so sex could happen at the moment. You
could just be really into somebody and know that you are never going to see them again but that
was important at that time.
Q. Yes at that moment what you were going through or what they were going through?
A1. And that’s what life is like. It is the things of the moment.
A2. Yes, but it’s how you feel about them as well though. Because I thought to myself if I have
finished with somebody then you can get upset and then you think well, why did I sleep with
him? And you are thinking oh god, I feel like a right bag of shit now.
A1. It always comes down to that point, why did I sleep with them.
A2. Yes, why did I when it has only lasted three weeks, the relationship, and I thought it was
going to last a lot longer. But then again you could say well, put it down to experience, try again.
Which is right, and you just feel, well.
A1. It’s cracked up to be a big thing though, sex. It’s like, you know when you see them on the
telly and they say, " I want to be the best" and it’s never like that is it? Because it could just
never be. I think people grow up expecting something from it that they never get and that’s why
they are probably searching for this almighty.
Q. It doesn’t really exist?
A2. Yes, this really, really great pleasure, something that is really brilliant, so as you are growing
up you are looking forward to it.
A1. Yes, you are looking forward to it in a way.
A2. Because it’s built up to be something so fantastic and I think it’s just a let-down really.
Q. Did you find it a let-down?
A1. If I looked at it in the way people portrayed it, yes it has got to be a let-down hasn’t it. It’s
just got to be, because when you are reading Barbara whatever her name is books, you think
this has got to be brilliant, and you are reading it and thinking God, does this really happen,
does she really feel like that.
Q. The orchestra plays.
A1. Yes, it’s quite funny because usually it happens in weird ways.
A2. The way you see it as this romantic, you have just had a nice meal and you are sitting with
some nice music and you just sink into it with the open fire and the nice rug and it’s just lovely.
Q. And then what really happens?
A2. Yes, what really happens. You are just sitting there and all of a sudden, OK you get past
that stage and that’s it.
Q. You mean you end up on your parent's sofa?
A1. Yes, and you are thinking Oh God, what if they come back and then you are laughing. You
laugh a lot because you are thinking what is going on here. And you think is that it, is that all,

what is going on. And say the guy comes before you do and you are sat there and I think that is
one thing that really gets a relationship totally messed up. Because society has said that a
woman should come before a man or something like that, some unspoken rule that’s there and
you feel so angry at that person that you just think, you are just useless. When you think about
it, it is nothing, it will be alright, because it didn’t work out you start blaming that person.
A2. It’s the not knowing though, isn’t it. It’s the not knowing what he is about, and friends you
have say oh, yes they enjoy it and it’s like if somebody tells you something and you haven’t
actually experienced it then you have got to experience it for yourself.
A1. It could be good for you, it could not be, it’s so wide. What I have found recently, I wasn’t
doing a survey or anything, but just talking to other friends, to other girlfriends, that when they
have sex and even if they are with the guys, still they don’t even enjoy it. And I think that’s just
Q. Yes because even if the first time might be a bit of a problem because you don’t know what
each other really enjoys or whateverA1. That it would get better or that you would try and please the other person or at least talk
about it. Whether they don’t talk about it and just do, it is like something that they feel they have
to do once in a while. It does, it ends up being like that in some relationships and I just don’t
want that. I don’t just want to get comfortable with someone and think oh, it’s time to lift my skirt
up now.
A2. Yes. I would rather be in a relationship, nothing heavy or serious, just so then you go out
and you enjoy yourself and you know each other and you trust, and that to me is important that
you can trust, the fact of them not going away and talking about it to other people, to their mates
and things.
A1. I just hate that sort of talk. I really don’t know what it proves.
Q. The male ego.
A1. I don’t know what it proves, I always despise it.
A2. The first time I thought, oh God, is that it. This fantasy and all the shakes for you, and I
thought oh no, God, do you know what I mean. One of my friends, I was talking to her, and she
even turned round to her boyfriend and said, "is that it?". And he must have felt so small then.
That must be terrible though.
Q. Were you really looking forward to it?
A2. No, I think it was the not knowing.
A1. Yes, exploring.
A2. Yes that’s how it is and also with me, because the boyfriend I was with at the time lived in
SOUTH WEST ENGLAND, it wasn’t as though he was from around the area so he could go
back and tell everybody, sort of thing.
Q. Did it seem to happen at the right time when you wanted it to happen or was it at some point
when the only thing to do next was that?
A2. Yes, I think the first time I don’t really think I was really ready for it. Because at first you just
end up saying “No, no leave it a while”, and then in the end you just think yes, it’s not going to
be so bad and then afterwards I thought, when I look back now I think what was the point. I
really did. I could have waited longer but it’s just that thing of not knowing.
A1. There we go again, this thing of we could have waited longer because we are still thinking of
this thing that’s going to happen. I think relationships revolve around sex, if you find the best
sexual partner then that’s the person for you and you should keep them and settle down with
Q. Yes, I think that’s why they are so rare.
A1. Yes, I think that’s it. I think that’s what people go through their lives looking for and never
finding, because you are never going to find the perfect person, the perfect sexual partner, the
perfect this and that all in one person.

A2. To me I don’t think it’s that important in a relationship, but that is me. Some people think it
is, their sex life has got to be good otherwise it’s not worth being with that person.
A1. Yes, I have heard people say that.
A2. But to me I'd rather get on with somebody and be able to talk to them about anything and
everything, trust that person, and have sex, even though it might not be absolutely brilliant.
A1. But you can work on that.
A2. Yes but to me it’s important to have the trust and everything like that first, so then if you do
have problems then it is easier for you to talk about and then you are more relaxed because that
is what I think it comes down to.
A1. Yes, being relaxed with somebody.
Q. Just feeling easy about it.
A2. Yes, because at first, I just thought, no. But then when I thought about it, it was because I
was so nervous and not thinking this person, this might be the last time I see him, then really
you should know that it’s not going to be like that with somebody.
Q. What do you think it is like for the boy, do you think they are nervous or expect different
A2. No.
A1. I think they expect different things.
A2. But then it depends on who the boy is as well.
A1. No in general I think women expect something different because whatever happens this guy
seems to get pleasure out of it no matter how it feels for you, because it is something clinical
isn’t it, that they come and they feel good, but afterwards they might feel bad that you didn’t or
whatever. But they seem to get some enjoyment whichever way it goes for you and if they were
right bastards then it would be, “I had a good time out of it”, it depended on the person whatever
way they took that but somehow they are going to feel like that.
Q. Do you think they enjoy it even if they don’t come?
A2. No, I don’t think so.
A1. I don’t know. Because girls enjoy it if they never have an orgasm. They just enjoy the feeling
of being so close to somebody.
A2. Yes, that’s it.
A1. A part of somebody basically. Just that whole togetherness, so maybe they do.
Q. Because it’s almost the whole macho thing put on, actually making it with men rather than
just enjoying the things that you say girls, women enjoy.
A2. That’s one thing, if you can really get a bloke, if you want to be nasty to somebody, to a
bloke, the only way you can get them is by turning round and saying, “well you can’t even make
it darling”. You can really turn round and slag them off and 'I don’t care', but if you turn round
and say “you can’t even make it so shut up”, then they are just “oh god”, and then all their mates
are thinking can’t you then, and he can’t prove it to his mates that he can make it, can he.
A1. I suppose girls have a hold over blokes in that way because you can say, “well I didn’t get
any pleasure out of it with you”, but you shouldn’t even use sexual acts as something..
A2. No I don’t, but I was just saying you could. That is the only thing you could say to really hurt
someone on.
A1. But that’s society again. That stupidness that they have made up.
Q. Blokes can do that a lot to women, things you are saying, somebody is a right old slag or
something and maybe they don’t even know, they just want to put something about?
A1. Yes, assumed most of the time. But girls do it as well. It annoys me when girls do it, it really
annoys me, because when a girl calls another girl a slag. You start thinking what is a slag,
because there is no meaning to the word. Because if you know somebody and they have been
around and you know them and like them it doesn’t really matter in the end because you know
them and you know what they are about, but it is only if you don’t know someone then if they
are sleeping with all these different people makes you feel, unless they are going totally over the

top. You don’t have to label somebody something. You don’t have to label them with that name,
slag or anything.
A2. It’s up to them isn’t it, it’s their life.
A1. And everybody has got reasons why, probably.
Q. How did you both actually learn about sex, I know you have put it down here, but was it at
school or friends?
A1. You just know from infant’s school.
A2. Like at junior school it starts with just things on the telly you saw and you used to go back to
school and say, did you see the way they were kissing and things like that, and then now you
think back, and that’s how you kiss and it builds up like that I think.
A1. My sister told me when I was about five and it was a big shock. She was about seven and
she said to me, "do you know how babies are born" and I said "No, well yes, of course I do, they
kiss, the man kisses the woman on the neck, and it just happens". And that’s what I thought,
and my sister just told me and I was really disgusted.
Q. No man is going to kiss my neck?
A1. Yes I did, I really did think that.
A2. Get away from my neck I don’t want to get pregnant!
A1. Yes, and I thought of the people I know that had babies and they didn’t do that, don’t say
that about my grandma. I grew up with my grandma and she was really religious, and she never
talked about things like that, ever, ever talked about things like that and I just didn’t have a clue.
Which five is not bad but not even to go back and ask her if it was true. Is it Nan, is it the way it
happens?, and just that wondering until you started having sex education. You sort of educate
A2. At school though it was load of, it really was stupid.
A1. You whisper things to each other and most of it is made up now I know.
Q. How do you distinguish what’s real and what’sA1. You've got some facts.
A2. But at the school it was stupid, what they said at school. It was really stupid. Like the things
that you would expect them to say about relationships and bringing feelings into it. But all we
had was, they drew this picture of a woman on the board and a male and this is a penis, this is
the vagina and that was all it was. It was stupid. I said to HANNAH today, we let this teacher go
on and one of these boys said, "right do you want us to tell you what we know".
A1. Imagine you are a teacher and trying to explain to all these kids what actually goes on, but it
must be difficult from their point of view.
Q. What lessons did you have them in?
A2. I think they started off in biology and then in third year they started with periods and stuff like
that, and then in the fourth and fifth year we had a free lesson which was personal and social
A1. But that’s too late in the fourth and fifth year of school. Miles too late I think, because that’s
when they really started telling you about it and you could ask questions, but I think maybe
seven, eight, because there is this notice now that children are getting sexually abused and they
have to know what the right touch is. You can’t say to a child just don’t let anybody touch you,
becauseQ. Yes if someone brushes your arm or something.
A2. Quite a lot of people at school, they put their arm around you and say well done.
A1. Yes, they won’t be able to distinguish so you have got to explain.
A2. I think the first year at secondary school I think they should start bringing it in with periods
and stuff like that, and then in the second year they should start explaining more about actual
sexual intercourse.
A1. And what it’s really like.
Q. Yes and what you might feel. They didn’t say anything about that?

A1. No, it’s just all the basics that you don’t really take it in.
A2. You are told you have sex and that’s it, it’s just like you go to the shops. And then
afterwards you don’t think about, ‘I walked down the road to the shops’. But after you have had
sex you sit there thinking oh god, like in relationships, will I see him again. And they don’t
actually tell you that what you are feeling, do you feel you have done the right thing, do you feel
terrible, do you feel ashamed, do you feel what.
A1. All the things that go through your mind after you have had sex or before you have sex, like
all the decisions you make in a split second.
Q. I won’t or yes, I will, will I use anything, what to use.
A1. Yes, all those things that rush through your mind and they explain none of that except the
penis goes into the vagina and it’s like something you've always known.
A2. And then the semen comes out.
A1. And then they have told you about tadpoles, and like what’s the connection? I don’t
Q. And they didn’t tell you anything about what can lead up to that and feelings you might feel,
or foreplay, and you might actually have a nice time being touched rather than actually going all
the way.
A1. Masturbation, I remember one girl wanted to have a conversation about because she heard
that you go blind if you masturbate and stuff like that, and the teacher sort of said "well no, you
don’t go blind", brush, brush back to whatever was being talked about.
A2. One teacher we had was ever so nice, she was a very old teacher and she said that in her
day it was said if you did that, that’s it you will go blind, and it was thought of as a really
disgusting thing to do, but she said there was nothing wrong with touching your own body and
learning about your own body and that’s all that they said really.
A1. You can’t know what you want from somebody else if you don’t understand yourself.
A2. I think the trouble is at school is with the ages. When I was fourteen, I was classed as really
mature for my age, because there were other people in the class who just didn’t know a thing.
So how can a teacher come in and say, start talking to me about sexual relationships and that
and then there some girls who say, "what’s that, what’s going on".
A1. But they have got to be made to understand though, haven’t they.
A2. Then it comes down to the parents as well, doesn’t it. My sister said today, my little niece
she's seven and she found a little box of Lillet’s in her bedroom and she said "what are these,
what are they used for" and LUCY said, "I didn’t know what to say, I just said oh they are my
tablets" and she didn’t say nothing else but she said, "do I tell her then, you know she's seven,
do I tell her then, or do I wait" and it’s hard.
Q. Yes because that could set up a whole lot of confusions as well because.
A1. Because she could go on thinking they are tablets.
A2. That’s it and then like .....said to me "what’s a period?" and I think should I say to her, and
they have all got different ideas, like her husband said "no, don’t tell her yet, she is not old
enough to understand", which is fair enough. Whereas another person would say yes, she has
asked, so tell her. But it is difficult.
A1. In my view as soon as they are asking what is a period then they should know, but it must
be difficult because once they do know, well maybe it’s just the way we see it because we are
afraid of taking away their innocence, but what if they do know.
Q. Did they teach you anything about AIDS at school?
A2. No, they just gave out leaflets.
A1. I still don’t understand how AIDS, what the actual thing does to your body to be honest. I
know that if you catch it, it is very bad.
Q. It destroys your immune system doesn’t it, which is basically things that defend you against
disease which means that you are prone to get anything. So even getting a cold can be fatal.

A2. It’s not the actual AIDS that you die of is it, it’s the actual disease, like a cold, you can die of
the flu. That’s what I don’t think people realise.
A1. I think that new law, Clause 28, stops a lot of things but they probably wanted to talk to us
about homosexuality and stuff like that but they weren’t at ease to, and they probably thought
well we can’t do that so just leave the whole thing and just left it and gave us a leaflet. I read it
sort of and threw it away.
Q. Do you feel that you are at risk?
A1. I think everybody is at risk from AIDS. Everybody, just like anything can happen. There are
a number of ways you can catch it.
A2. It’s terrible really. You could meet somebody and you could be with them and actually going
out with them for six months without sleeping with them and then sleep with them, and then you
can catch AIDS and neither of you know until another five years. And in that time, you could
have got married and had kids and then your whole family could have it and it’s just not on. But
what do you do, like you meet somebody you can’t say like, before we have sex would you mind
if you go to the clinic and get an AIDS test, because you just can’t do that can you.
A1. I think maybe we will have to start, maybe it will become part of the ritual of gettingA2. I would feel better if I was sleeping with somebody and showing me a certificate to say that
they haven’t got AIDS. I would feel great about that because no matter what I always think
about things like that, God, say he had it, because you don’t know how many people he has
slept with, you don’t know what sort of people they are.
A1. He doesn’t know or the other person in the relationship doesn’t know the other person that
they slept withs background. You just don’t know.
Q. Do you think you would be able to ask someone to use a condom?
A1. Yes
Q. Or do you think that could be awkward?
A1. No, if I felt I didn’t know them, like if it was a one-night stand then I would have to ask. But
then there is that thing of if you know somebody and then there might be a little bit of doubt
whether to or not.
A2. My views on sex have changed since I've got older anyway. I would feel that if you can’t ask
your partner to use it then what is the point of the relationship anyway. If you can’t actually turn
round and ask him just that and if he blows up about it then it’s somebody not worth being with if
they can’t understand that you want to use one.
A1. Yes, that’s quite a sensible way of looking at it I suppose.
A2. It’s the same with everything, it’s like if a boy wants you to sleep with them and you won’t
and he says, then that’s it. Well it’s tough luck to him isn’t it.
Q. Yes, if that’s all.
A2. If he can’t respect your wishes, then...
Q. Has that ever happened to you?
A1. Yes.
A2. Yes.
Q. That you have actually said right, forget it then?
A1. It makes you feel very bad because that’s all they wanted.
A2. There was one boyfriend I had and he was so nice and really, really pleasant and
everything and he didn’t even make a pass or anything, just a complete gentleman, and then
after about three weeks, I have my time limits, and we come down to it and I said no, I don’t feel
ready yet. And then the pressure comes on, "go on" and that, and then in the end I said right,
well if you can’t respect me for not wanting to sleep with you, and then yes, of course it comes
in doesn’t it, "I love you," and you just think, get out of here, because you don’t want to hear that
because how can you love somebody after three weeks. Yes, you can care for somebody but
there is no way you can love them after knowing them three weeks.

A1. Well maybe you could but it’s something you just don’t need to hear at that moment. You
start to think you are pressuring me, your hassling me and you love me, you can’t love me,
Q. Especially as it comes after that, it just seems like another way of conning you into saying
A1. What route shall I take this time, the I love you route, that should reach her.
A2. But they do play on your feelings and your emotions don’t they.
A1. People do that as well.
A2. Yes, I know that but when it comes down to that every girl likes to be complimented no
matter what and that’s how it starts, isn’t it. I think you are a really nice girl, and I just love the
way you dress, and I really love your attitude to life, you know, you speak your mind. And I'm
thinking yes, I'm going to get on great with him and then it comes down to I love you, just make
your mind up, are you going to sleep with me, no, not yet. But I love you, well if you love me
then you will wait. That’s the way I see it, if you really care for me that much then you will just
wait until I'm ready.
A1. I have always thought, this is my big thing about boys, I have always thought that guys, their
attitude to sex is so totally different because they meet this girl say, and she is nice girl and they
fancy her and they have just spoken to her for five minutes and they want to kiss her, and then
they want to have sex with her. And I think what goes where for that just little split second that
you are talking to me what suddenly makes you think that we are going to have sex. Their whole
attitude is different from that, I can tell because I have never, like, been talking to somebody for
five minutes and thinking I would really like to have sex with you, not for five minutes. You might
feel cor, a very nice man, butA2. But I think that though.
A1. Do you?
A2. Yes.
A1. Oh, now we come to it. Within the first five minutes?
A2. No not five minutes, ten.
Q. Well you could almost have not an instinctive reaction but an almost intuitive reaction to
meeting somebody as to whether I wouldn’t throw him out of bed, as opposed to, well.
A1. Yes, I suppose so, but to actually come out with it and that’s what I mean, their actual
brazenness about the whole thing.
Q. No this is just in your head, I do mean actually saying it.
A1. And that’s what worries me, because I think how many girls has he said that to in the last
week or so. That worries me because I prefer to have a conversation, a really long conversation
and then whatever happened after that, happened and then you know whether it would be 'I'll
take your phone number' or something like that. I might even ask for their phone number if I
liked them that much. But the whole thing of that quick, quick thing, and even if you agree, it’s
weird thinking about afterwards, why was it so quick, what was going through his mind, he just
wanted a pure sexual relationship.
A2. What you think as well you know, if I sleep with him in the first couple of days then they are
just going to think I'm an old slag or something, they think I am going to sleep about because I
have been sleeping around because I have agreed so quickly. But this has happened to me and
I didn’t and then he turns round and says if you had slept with me that week I would have
married you. That’s what he said to me.
Q. That doesn’t make sense.
A1. A boy could really cut me short if he said that.
A2. I just thought no, it just isn’t worth it.
Q. Have either of you ever gone into a sexual relationship but not used anything as

A1. Almost. Yes, almost and then I just thought no, but not because of that, not because there
wasn’t any contraception.
Q. For other reasons?
A1. Yes, just because I felt that I don’t want to do this.
A2. Yes, but withdrawal method, but I mean I don’t agree with that at all. That was just a
moment that had arisen.
A1. And you thought just please, I don’t want to get pregnant, get back.
A2. And I thought no, I just can’t go through with this.
Q. Was that to do with the risk or?
A2. I was thinking about getting pregnant rather than thinking of AIDS or anything like that.
Because I think that is the main thing you think about is just getting pregnant.
A1. Yes, it seems a bigger fear than AIDS. Actually, thinking about it, getting pregnant, God, oh
no. But AIDS would be a shock, but it’s more something that can just kill you off but having a
child inside you and having to make this decision of whether to have it, have an abortion, no, I
don’t need that. I really don’t need that.
Q. Was that something that has happened a bit almost to you, and maybe to you, that that
happened and you don’t think will happen again or do you think that could happen again
because a moment could arise?
A2. No, it won’t happen again. I am not worried.
A1. No, I think I would try my hardest because I think you can never say never. Things just
happen but I will try my hardest to be.
A2. Well I'm on the pill now but that's not through sexual relationship, it’s through controlling my
A1. But that wouldn’t work for, it depends what you are taking it for.
Q. Oh yes it would, they give the contraceptive pill for making periods regular.
A2. Yes, because when I was thirteen I used to have real bad trouble, I was in bed for a week, I
couldn’t move or anything. It was really bad and then I had blocked ovaries and all that sort of
problem and then at thirteen I wasn’t even thinking about having sex then anyway and then it
started to get worse and they just started to put me on a stronger pill. But I always said that as
soon as I was sixteen I wanted to go on the pill anyway, just in case I got raped or something
like that. No, seriously, because that would be an ordeal in itself but then to find out that you are
pregnant by this thing. I can’t call it man somebody who rapes somebody, I just can’t. And you
are carrying that things child, that’s another ordeal in itself.
A1. So you made a decision about that. I never thought of that. She really comes out with these
A2. Honestly when I was about twelve I used to worry about it but that’s my view to life anyway.
People always think it won’t happen to me, but it will, that’s the way I see things now.
A1. It could very well happen to any woman, like it almost happened to me quite a few times
when you just think that one day.
Q. Nearly getting raped?
A1. Yes.
A2. So you never know. But then I went on the pill at thirteen to control the periods and
everything and just haven’t bothered coming off it.
A1. But then there’s all these problems with contraceptives like the pill and how it canA2. Yes that’s it, I put on a stone and a half, when I was fifteen I used to be the same height but
I was so slim then and then all of a sudden when I went onto a stronger pill and it was really
horrible. I say I am overweight now and you say no you are not, but it’s in myself because I
know how slim I was, but if I come off the pill I know I can get my weight back down but then I'm
going to have really bad periods again. You are fighting a losing battle.

Q. Did being on the pill change your attitude to sexuality at all in terms of, I could, if anything
happened I am all right now, so maybe I could go off with someone and not be as bad as if I had
to think what am I risking?
A2. Yes, there is that to it, but I wouldn’t sleep with somebody if I had just met them. I have to
know them for a while.
Q. How old were you the first time?
A2. Fifteen. And that was a mistake.
A1. I was fourteen. That’s why I don’t believe in all this, you can’t put an age on sex because I
say yes, now looking back on it fourteen is a bit young but at the time I thought I was in charge.
At that moment I probably was, so any other fourteen-year old might think that. I needed to go to
the doctor and just have somebody say, just to think that they actually bothered to try and go
and get it in the first place and thinking sensibly enough and being told no, your parents have to.
A2. If they are mature enough to think about right, I'm going to go to the doctors and get myself
put on the pill just to save me from getting pregnant, but to do that and face the doctor at
fourteen then they are mature enough to have sex. That’s the way I see it.
A1. It’s only when you think you are, you might never ever been ready for it or whatever the
hassles that it brings, it’s only when you think you are, so that’s it. So many people I know have
got pregnant and had to have abortions because of that rule and I think it’s got a lot to answer
Q. Yes that ....
A1. Yes, that stupid woman. I think she was just amazing, and she was a woman as well. I
thought give it a rest, you should know better. Because it is ridiculous because people have
always gone against that rule, that’s why so many girls are pregnant and have babies and it
would be a lot easier if they could just get hold of contraceptives.


[NAME OF TEACHER]’s drama class – I went and spoke to them and explained more what
the Project was all about. There were three young women there and then Alicia, a large
black women arrived, They looked at the q'aire again and asked about a few of the
questions, two of them were a bit disparaging in attitude and I could see that one of them
was pointing to the ethnic origin question and saying that's really stupid, I explained the need
for background information but she and her friend still not interested, Alicia and another
young woman, Chantel, however said they would fill it in and went away and did so. The
q'aires were returned to me upstairs later. They said they would be willing to be interviewed
but only if they could come together. I said OK why not, which is what happened. In fact as
soon as we started talking they just took off, both talking a lot about sex and AIDS and
relationships and we went on for almost an hour. [NAME OF TEACHER] came in once to
ask how long we'd be and I said ten minutes, because she clearly wanted them back and
said the group was waiting for them. They themselves were very casual about this, saying to
me after that they wanted to carry talking and surely the group could continue without them.
So we went on for about another 20 minutes until [NAME OF TEACHER] arrived again and
was a bit fed up so we stopped. I was very apologetic, she was politely also apologetic and
said she hadn't realised it would take so much time. Anyway, we agreed that as I was
coming back the following week anyway, perhaps I could see them again at a time when
they weren’t in their class. (But unfortunately this never happened.)

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