Cindy Lauper’s coded song was popular during my childhood. This song mocked veiled references to masturbation. While I did not figure this out until later in my life, I did not have such shame attached to touching myself. Partly because my parents were not interested in my brother and I maturing too much since they were dealing with their own dramas. I am mildly grateful if their response to my cycle are any indication of how they would have chosen to handle the discovery of myself. Let’s dive deep into sexual touch in this essay.
I started the self-exploration of my body when I was twelve years old. I wanted to know where my urine came from. Added to the knowledge of tampons over pads, I wanted to know what my genitals looked like. So I set up a mirror after a bath to look at myself. I was enamored with my hidden treasures. I began to gaze at myself post-bath almost daily. This observation stopped when my room was taken away. I have not gotten into looking at myself in that capacity again but looking at myself has never been something that I shied away from and would encourage other women to do the same.
Alas, a willingness to touch oneself to know the temple was not shared by many individuals of my peer group without some level of apprehension or disgust. My best friend and I bonded over a willingness to talk about such things. She was grateful in some capacity since her encounters with our school peers left her on the outs when she brought masturbation up. I recall being told that my best friend was known for masturbating with a hot dog, a cucumber and something else. This was not her actions but the ideas of sexual practices being tossed around with her as the person of interest for them. I remained confused as hell by people being offended by sexual exploration that was willing on oneself as who else was going to learn this for you? You partner? If one left it to the other mate, who is to say they will know anything you need in the first place? And should you lose that mate, are you going to tell the next one or have them fumble about until they got it?
My sexual assaults were touch based so I was often reluctant to enter someone’s personal space without permission. Well, if my intentions were sexual I wouldn’t. But if they were under my desire to play, then it was different. I think I mentioned my period of grabbing butts. This was inspired by my best friend and her partner at the time. She felt bad that I was not getting romantic attention so encouraged her partner to do so. I was not in mourning for that kind of attention as I wanted more than being admired by my peers. But I was fascinated by the butt slapping that went on occasionally. So I entered the fray and slapped butts of peers I kind of knew for a few weeks to an entire semester until I was told to consider what it opened me up to.
But when it came to men masturbating, there was more of a blanket acceptance that that is something they are going to do and it was tolerated in a way women masturbation was considered abhorrent. When encountering this double standard, I was flummoxed. I did not want to have my sexual pleasure be at the mercy of my partner. I demanded that I know what I like as much as my bed mate is supposed to be willing to explore what we like together. At least that is my current thought pattern. At the time I was introduced to this complex, I chose to do without it. I did not want my exploration of touch to lead to something I was not prepared for.
As I matured, I evolved this stance even as I entered the bed with partners that were supposed to be understanding. Turns out all that pre programing about sexual exploration makes the talk about what one likes in bed difficult in the first place. As our society continues to become more open to sexual identities in the plural, I am slowly encouraged that this kind of bias will not plague the sexual phase of my pending kids.