I didn’t really fancy the guys who were nice to me. Not sexually. I’d just ignore the nice guys. You could call it the bad boy syndrome.


An interview with Danielle.


Painting by Didi.

Danielle | Age: 30 | Location: London, UK | Born: UK | Occupation: Video artist | No. of sexual partners: 12

Why did you take part?

It’s good to share stories, I’d never done it about sex before. 


What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?

I’ve always been aware of sex. I remember being 4 years old, my mum and dad left me in the living room and I saw a sex scene on TV. She looked like she was in pain. It made me think sex was something terrible. 

At 8 I had this friend Sophie and we talked about sex *all the time*. We had weird interactions. We’d touch each other, in a sexual way. She found her dad’s porn collection. It was female porn and quite exciting. We used to also look at porn on the Internet too. We’d talk to guys on chat rooms. Joke about. We were exploring. I remember becoming sexual. I’d wee in weird places, like out my window for no reason. It seemed sexual somehow. I started to touch myself. It felt like an exciting thing to do. I had an orgasm when I was really young. I remember telling my friend and he was really shocked.

I went to a girls school so I never really met boys and was really excited and scared by them, obsessed by them. Early on I felt rejected by boys - I was the only brown girl at school. In games boys never wanted to kiss me. I thought I was really ugly. Then at 13 boys started telling me I’m pretty. I still felt bad and got addicted to compliments. It was a drug that would last for a week at a time. I think I kissed a boy at 13. My girlfriends and I would try to go out and kiss as many boys as possible. One time I got drunk and I kissed 3 boys in one night! It wouldn’t be a good weekend if i didn’t kiss a boy. I used to kiss boys but I felt scared of having sex. I didn’t have sex till I was about 18. I feel like sex wasn’t the experience TV and pop culture made it out to be - amazing and explosive. My first time was just annoying and painful. 

My dad was always coming and going. I think I followed that in my life, choosing men who come and go. At 15 I fell in love with a guy who was quite fucked up. He did a lot of drugs. My confidence wasn’t that high so I stuck around. We went through these cycles of him being nasty and then making things up and then being nasty again. I went out with another mental guy after the first one. He would lie to me. We´d make plans and he´d never show up. It just eroded my confidence. I really loved this guy. He went to prison and we were together when we was in prison. He was so confusing and manipulative; it was scary. We finally broke up. He messaged me that he’d kill himself if I didn’t want to be with him after that. He turned his phone off too for a while just to freak me out. We never spoke again. He never texted me back or answered the phone. I felt awful but then it was such a relief. 

Looking back I think I wanted to fix people. It was like a weird challenge. When a guy would treat me badly I’d just think there’s something wrong with me, that I must be not good enough. So weird. I’d just fall into these disproportionate pits of despair. Victim thinking. I didn’t really fancy the guys who were nice to me. Not sexually. I’d just ignore the nice guys. You could call it the bad boy syndrome. I liked guys who were unavailable. I was afraid of commitment so the nice consistent guys made me claustrophobic. I eventually got depressed. I went to see a counsellor. The therapy really helped a lot with my sense of confidence. I understood lots of reasons of why I do the things I do. It helped me to see me beyond being a victim. I understood that my dad really did love me it’s just that he wasn’t around a lot. My confidence has been improving since then. Recently I had a very loving experience with a guy but he had to leave. 


What does sex mean to you?

Sometimes it’s just for pleasure, sometimes it’s for the connection. Depends on the person. It can be a very primal animal need. I’m a very physical person. I learn through the body and process emotions through the body. It can help to release tensions and emotions. 


What’s difficult about sex?

I’ve had sex before because I felt like I should. Like we went on a date and they wanted it. I always regretted it. Feels icky. This one time I just really wanted it to end. He was really into it and I just wanted to stop it and shut him up. He was a really nice guy. I didn’t feel attracted to him but felt like I should be attracted to him. 

Sometimes it hurts a bit. I sometimes feel like men have been watching too much porn and they’re trying to be a certain way with me and not be sensual. I feel like they’re just humping me. I rarely come when I have sex. I worry about the guy wanting me to come. “Did you come? Oh you didn’t come?” It just ruins it. Feel like you should just be in the moment rather than trying to make me come. If I sense that they’re trying to make me come I can’t come.  

I worry about my body sometimes and how it looks. Sometimes I think too much. It’s happens if I don’t really like the guy so much. 


What do you most enjoy about sex?

It’s like a primal dance. It feels very natural and intimate. It’s something that we’re guarded from in society. When you do have sex it’s like a release of something that we all want and need. 


Do you orgasm?

Usually from the clitoris which I think is pretty common. Never had a vaginal orgasm. I guess sometimes when a guy touches me it can hurt because they’re not doing it right. It’s so hard to talk to them. I don’t want to explain things to someone.


How often do you have sex?

Every 4 months or so. When i was in my 20s I hardly had sex. If I’m not in a relationship I don’t have sex much. I know some girls just go with the moment but for me I have to feel ready. It doesn’t mean I have to love them. With my ex it took a long time. I kept rejecting him for a while. And then one day I just decided that I’d have sex with him. 


Do you masturbate?

I go through phases. End of the month I don’t think about it. Maybe once a week or so. It takes quite a long time.


Do you do anything to prevent pregnancy or getting STDs?

I usually use condoms. Used to be on the pill but think it’s not good for the emotions. I’ve taken the morning after quite a lot. I always get checked after for any STDs. 

How do you see female sexuality portrayed in the society?

Bodies are seen as a commodity used to sell things. We have women dress really sexually to sell records. Or make women cover up. There’s an obsession with controlling female sexuality. There’s an obsession with the female body. What their bodies look like on the red carpet. The modelling industry. It seems like there is some kind of power about the female body - so there is a desire to control and use it to control society as whole in some way. Huge amount of money being made from selling the female body. Women give birth. We grow the human population in our bellies. We have one of the most important resources - to create life. There is so much desire to control the human body and to control resources. 

The media had a huge impact on my body image when I was a kid. All these perfect same-looking women. I’d hold the images up to my face in the mirror and see how I compare. There is so much importance placed on being beautiful. It’s more important than being free or funny or smart. From how a lot of my guy friends speak - if you’re a girl and you’re beautiful you’re worth more. They grade women and it’s a joke but it’s not. The women on TV they’re not necessarily very talented but they’re beautiful. The key to competence is a great body and a face. So you become obsessed with looking good. Men have it to a degree but not as much. They don’t get treated so badly if they don’t look a certain way. When I was 14 I used to smoke. I tried to grab a cigarette out of this guy’s mouth. He said ‘you’re fit, but not that fit.’ I was like what does that mean? If you’re really attractive you can be confident but if you’re not - just blend into the background. You have to be attractive to be anything else. It makes it really hard for women to grow old. Can’t enjoy maturing because without your body you’re nothing. 

I work in the media and meet a lot of models. Seeing how much effort is put into the images made me aware of just how fake these images are. It’s hours and hours put into these images. I often feel quite bad for a lot of famous women and models. If you always take 4 hours of makeup and dressing up it’s like you can’t be out as you are. 


What’s your advice to women?

To young girls, don’t compare yourself to the women you see in the media. It’s an image created to make money. I worry a lot - the instagrams, youtube; all about their style. I worry girls are busier with looking good than than their lives. Don’t look in the mirror too much. 


What’s your advice to men?

Girls don’t necessarily want to be banged like in porn movies. A lot of the directors are men. 90% of directors coming up with ideas are men. Why are they coming up with these empty portrayals of women? Obviously to make money but still. 

I’ve had these experiences with men calling me ugly or fat in the street. Grabbing my ass. Guys following me home. When I was really young, men 30 years older coming on to me. It’s a pattern that happens enough. All my friends seem to have the same things happen. Why do we have a culture where that is acceptable? It’s not that men shouldn’t express their attraction but it’s sometimes quite disgusting or even alarming when you’re alone at night. They don’t get it’s intimidating. Sometimes I get the sense that they think it’s their right and if the woman objects then she is crazy or a bitch.

It’s important to make sure men aren’t left out of the conversation. We’re in danger of judging men as evil. I don’t think that’s healthy. Just swings the pendulum left and right. We have to value masculinity. We can’t demonise one side. There’s lots of good men in the world too. We have to make sure that everyone is a part of the conversation to really have progress. 


Is there anything you want to explore?

There’s still so many things. I’d like to be in a really nice loving relationship. Someone that brings the best out of me. I’ve had enough crappy relationships that I’d like a really good stable one.