I will start this by saying I love to masturbate! I say it loud proud and for everyone who has done it, is doing it and will do it. The reason I have come out of the gate more excited than those people who roll down a hill after some cheese, is because I am no longer ashamed either by the act or the conversation surrounding it, but it was not always that way. I see those of you who know me laughing way there in the back, but the sexual freedoms and confidence I enjoy now was a journey to get to.
The mind of a creative is a stretched one and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to write a separate blog about masturbation in my 30s. Then I realised I couldn’t tell that story without this one and so, hold on to those seats, I decided to write a trilogy about masturbation. I know I know. go take a seat over there before you get too excited.
So before we get started lets have a look at what the scientists tell us about sexual desire and attractions in young people.
Cognitive markers of sexual desire emerge during early puberty, including identifiable sexual thoughts and sexual attractions. About 25% of young adults report “thinking a lot about sex” as 11–12 year olds (both boys and girls) (Larsson & Svedin, 2002). Based on reports of fourth- and fifth grade (ages 9–11 years) American boys and girls, 16% reported self-relevant sexual thoughts (Butler, Miller, Holtgrave, Forehand, & Long, 2006). In a sample of Spanish boys and girls, about 6% of 9–10 year old boys reported sexual fantasies, increasing to 66% among 13–14 year olds. Among girls, 15% of 13–14 year olds reported fantasies, with none reported by 9–10 and 11–12 year olds (Arnal & Llario, 2006). Prospective studies suggest that sexual cognitions become evident over a short period of time, perhaps as little as 3 months (Mary A. Ott & Elizabeth J. Pfeiffer, 2009). If expressed interest in sex is a marker of sexual desire, less than 2% of 9–10 year old boys express an interest in having sexual intercourse, but this proportion is 12% among 13–14 year olds. This proportion is 2% or less for girls (Arnal & Llario, 2006). Adult men have more frequent sexual cognitions than women, but these differences may be small and more related to erotophilia (Fisher, Moore, & Pittenger, 2012) and this sort of study has not been done in adolescents.
Now stop right there! I see you all getting up and going to make yourself a tea. Look, I cannot do this post without at least some facts and a little research..so just come back over here. Although this is from the US medical journal, it would seem that the NHS share a very close view and have found similar statistics to be the case. I will link the website at the bottom of this here post.
But..what if it happens much earlier than that, what if you are younger than that?….Yep, I was 7 when I started masturbating. Now look I never said this was going to be an easy read. No one wants to read the age 7 and the word masturbation in the same paragraph. At the time I had no idea that that is what this was and my little sexual antenna had already started growing OR that it wasn’t going to just be some phase, like the yo-yo trend.
Some visual antenna aid. Drawing is not a skill I have. It comes out of the neck because well..it does..moving on!
When I was in primary school I went to the bathroom quite a lot, it often felt like I had to pee. The thing is, when I got there I would often just sit..not peeing…staring at the door wondering if bugs had enough friends or checking my imaginary friends were behaving, they were in different classes to me, naturally. I would then wonder back to class having not peed but wondering why it still felt like I needed to. See thats the point , I would sit there and no pee would come out, I convinced myself that my body was evaporating the pee between the classroom and the toilet. For a whole week I thought I had a super power and was going to be part of a super gang…..oh boy do I wish I was kidding.
When I was 8 I started to find a new way to get rid of this pee feeling, if I rocked back and forth on my chair, it felt good and then finished and then I could carry on trying really hard to understand that you don’t pronounce the Is in Island. You guessed it, I had started masturbating, that feeling of needing to pee was the first hint of sexual arousal. The thing is, I had no idea that thats what it was, I just about knew what kissing was let alone there were more holes down there than the one I peed with!
Rocking back and forth on a chair is a little difficult to do and go unnoticed, so after a while my class mates started to ask me what I was doing. I had no idea ,so I said the first thing that came to mind…I was doing butt exercises to help my bum shape…in hindsight this wasn’t much better or an explanation. The child would then try it, deduce nothing was happening, called me weird and went back to eating glue.
Then my teachers started to notice and, as adults, they were a little more difficult to fool. They had a few follow up questions, as they should have! If it weren’t for teachers diligence I wouldn’t know that worms are not to be eaten and they wouldn’t have kept me in at lunch until I had learnt the 9 times tables…I never ate lunch again..kidding!! they gave up in the end. Hey Mrs Margaret, I still don’t know how to do my 9 times tables but I can write about masturbating unknowingly in your class. Proud? you should be. Anyway, less of that.
What happened next, well, it is an interesting memory to say the least. since the teachers had noticed my behaviour and because I was 8, you guessed it, they called my mum. One day, before school started my female teacher and my mum sat down with me and asked what it was I was doing on my chair. Then they sat there staring at me with this confused, puzzled, intrigued, concerned look on their faces and all I really wanted to say was….look ladies! You and me both! I get an urge that feels like I need to pee, then I don’t pee, then I move back and forth on this chair, it feels good, then it ends, then I go back to colouring in my self portrait with a purple pen!You tell me whats going on!…..but I just held onto my butt story for dear life and school started. As far as I am aware, it was never spoken about again.
The thing is, I have a feeling they both knew what was going on, but how do you explain to your 8 year old that her cliterous and vulva were just having a swell time down there. Listen, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have the words either!, what if they were just as embarrassed to ask the questions as I was about what I was doing and they just didn’t have the right answers, forget answers, maybe they didn’t even have the words to start with.
This was back in 1997 when we weren’t as sexually forward and open as we are now. There were no articles telling parents how to approach sex and masturbation with their young kids. There were no millennials yelling about not stifling our sexual freedoms, Netflix was not a thing and weren’t making shows like sex education (great show) telling us what we feel is normal and sparking conversations about what toys we use to masturbate. And there were certainly no burlesque show run by sex educators.
You want to know what really makes me sad? My body was trying to have a relationship with me that my under developed brain was too young to have. Thinking back on it now, somewhere in a brain of glue and Islands and imaginary friends and superheroes, I knew there was something else. And my immediate knee jerk reaction was to feel embarrassed.
So my conclusion is this. How young is too young?How young is too young to start talking to your kids about masturbation? How young is too young to understand that our primal urges are normal? What if had these questions been answered when I was 7, I wouldn’t have been ashamed of masturbation well into my 20s. I don’t blame my mum or teachers, for all of the reasons above. This is still ,in this day and age, taboo stuff. Go on, say masturbation out loud and be honest about how it makes you feel. For some, there will still be that twinge of guilt, shame and that this is still a word to be said in hushed tones behind closed doors. Like a really hot feeling Voldermort.