I’ve been trying to remember when I discovered masturbation but I can’t pinpoint a beginning. My first memory seems to be around the age of 8. I actually didn’t touch myself much preferring my pillow instead. Rolling over and rubbing myself against the pillow produced a minimal but somewhat satisfactory orgasm. I didn’t know it was an orgasm, though. All I knew is that it felt really good. I also knew I had to keep it secret. Especially from my super Christian sexually repressed parents. It’s because of them that this story gets more complicated.
I grew up Catholic but around 4th grade my Mother discovered a new Catholic Church that was more evangelical. Suddenly we were going to prayer meetings, bible studies, revivals and retreats. They already had outdated mid 1950’s attitudes towards relationships and sex but the new religion made them even more conservative. My parents NEVER talked about sex. Not while I was starting to explore my prepubescent body, not when I matured at the early age of 10 nor even as an inexperienced 17 year old leaving for college. I learned everything about menstruation and puberty from my friend next door and 5th grade sex ed class. I learned about sex from my sister’s magazines and books I discovered in her closet.
I learned about masturbation from The Hite Report, a comprehensive and radical undertaking about women’s sexuality by a female sex educator and feminist, condensed and published in paperback.
It lived on the family bookshelf in our hippy loft along with other contemporary titles of the times such as– the illustrated Joy of Sex and the Playboy interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, an issue my parents were sure to buy. Just as they bought the Madonna Playboy and Penthouse issues (you know the one–where she has black hair all over: head, armpits, pubes) for me that is how sex positive my parents were.
I knew my family was different but I didn’t realize, just how– in regards to sexuality, different they were. In reality much of the world was not informed about what was inside the Hite Report. Information as to how women orgasmed or what their sexual experience was like. Up until that point, it was just one of a few times that female sexuality had been discussed in such a open and frank way.
I always remember the first time I saw a boy touch a girl sexually. At the time I didn’t know it was sexual but for some reason I knew we had to keep it a secret.
I was 6 and in the 1st grade. We were at recess one fall afternoon. We were 2 boys and 3 girls. We all walked over to a tree on the far side of the playground. I knew that the girl with the skirt had mentioned a hole in her stalkings. So in a moment’s time she was squatting over as if she was going to pee. One of the boys went over to her and under her skirt; he slid his hand and touched her for a moment, then she let the other boy do the same. I didn’t understand what they were feeling for but I felt it. It was that same feeling I could identify today when I am turned on; a small pulsating feeling in my private area. It happened rather quickly and then the bell rang so we all ran to line up. When we got inside we planned to go into the coat room last. The blond boy told us to wait. Then he said “touch it”. As I looked down I saw a bulge coming from the crotch of his pants. And as the other girls just slightly touched it, I did the same. It was my first experience ever touching any part of a boy’s body like that. And I knew that I wasn’t supposed to but it was a very interesting discovery.
I thought about that moment a lot. We never did it again and we never talked about it either. A few months later, I moved and started a new school. I soon forgot the day and what had happened until one day in the second grade I saw something a little more intriguing. I sat in the very last seat in the second row from the windows. My new best friend sat right next to me. When on most days we would just do our work and whisper to each other, this time, she was quiet. But when I looked over I saw her doing something that I thought was weird.
I’ve always masturbated A LOT. I was about 5 years old when I started. I knew touching myself “down there” felt really good. I also knew it wasn’t proper to bust out my stuff in the middle of the living room on a Sunday afternoon. In order to remain ladylike, I’d always wait until after I went to bed to secretly explore.
When I was a kid I didn’t know what an orgasm was or how to have one so my personal sessions had no end point. I masturbated incessantly for extraordinarily long periods of time. With no final goal how does one determine when to stop? I can’t count the number of times I fell asleep with my hand down my pants and a goofy smile on my face.
For the next 7 years I persistently humped every couch cushion I could get my hands on. I learned Barbie feet made good clit ticklers and Ban Roll-On antiperspirant bottles were perfectly dildo sized. I was the reigning thumb wrestling champion at my elementary school because I had far stronger hand muscles than any other kid in town.
Fast forward to 1983, I was 12. One day my mother hands me a strange looking contraption with a long electric cord. It’s a nail buffing kit her friend bought, never used and passed on to her. Since my mother rarely did her nails she thought I might like it instead. After all, I was getting to the age when personal grooming was supposed to become an integral part of my delicate, feminine existence.
I lifted one eyebrow, smirked and thought to myself “nail buffing kit, huh? HA! I’m taking this thing straight to my room and fucking it!”
I’ve masturbated with the intention of self-pleasure since age 9. It began with careful and thorough study of textbooks and encyclopedia entries on the human reproductive systems. I took my mother’s hand-held mirror so I could admire the handiwork below. Clitoris, labia minora, labia majora, vulva, vagina… beautiful like the petal folds of Georgia O’Keefe’s (my favorite artist at the time- I then moved on to Frida Kahlo) deep violet lilies. At first, it was furtive, but I learned the art of silence.
In spite of my conservative, Evangelical upbringing, I was not ashamed of the time I set aside for myself. Even the learned shame of modesty that came with early-onset puberty didn’t affect my ability to come with the flick of a finger. When my back should have bowed or slouched under the gendered pressures of “respectability” and modesty, it was upright. In fact, I would stand naked in the mirror, mentally complimenting my burgeoning body from my 34C-and-growing breasts to my spreading hips. I would always start by tracing my features on my corporeal terrain, downward, downward to the soft wetness that always weakened my strong thighs and knees. And I would stare myself in the eyes, daring myself to shut them as I approached the brink. I rarely did close my eyes. That’s how I recognized the contraction of my pupils when my clitoris finally became too sensitive to touch.
I don’t remember the exact day that I started exploring my sexuality through masturbation as a child but I do remember the first time I was “caught” in the act. This is the story of how at the age of six I learned what adults thought about masturbation. But before I tell you exactly how that happened I think I should tell you more about my masturbation history.
At the age of four or five, I had discovered that humping my teddy bears, pillows and even my fist not only made my little girl bits feel good but after doing it long enough a calm feeling of relief and peace would soothe me unlike anything else. This was an activity that I would do on rare occasions and always in private (in bed before falling asleep); this changed when I became a latchkey kid.
My parents both worked full time and although they had daycare for my baby brother they couldn’t afford to pay our neighbor that watched him to also watch me after school. At the age of five I was alone at home for several hours each afternoon with nothing but a television with very bad antenna reception to keep me entertained. I quickly found myself with a lot of time to explore my body between the time that the afternoon sitcoms went off and when my parents got back with my little brother. Masturbation became an almost everyday afternoon activity for little Lidia.
Masturbation IS the foundation of human sexuality.
I didn’t make this phrase up myself but I have lived by it since as long as I can remember. This saying comes from Betty Dodson one of my heroes. Betty Dodson liberated masturbation almost forty years ago and she is still doing work to assure that masturbation is celebrated for what it is…
Masturbation IS the foundation of human sexuality!
I don’t think enough people celebrate or realize the importance of masturbation and how crucial it is for having a healthy, knowledgeable and empowered sex life. While to some National Masturbation Month might be a silly “made up” holiday for me it is an opportunity to bring attention to one of the best things we can do for ourselves as humans.
If you don’t love yourself how can you expect anyone to love you?
Yes. I’ve heard that before and I am sure you have too.
Have you ever stopped to think…that if you don’t know how to fuck yourself right maybe you shouldn’t expect anyone else to fuck you right either?