Kids are nosy. I happened to be one of the nosiest kids alive, so nosy that I would sit on my wendy house to give myself the height needed to snoop into neighbouring gardens… for no other reason than curiosity and boredom. Curiosity killed the cat when one day I found myself looking at the top of my Mom’s wardrobe probably to root out my Christmas presents but I found something a little more confusing than A Littlest Pet Shop set (does anyone else remember this brand?)
Upon delving in and finding, a not very well hidden, postal envelope (the bubble-wrapped kind) containing most intriguing of all a “pink torch” which I later realised was in fact a vibrator. I don’t remember much other than turning the bottom and being a little bewildered that this torch not only lit up but also vibrated rather aggressively. As a slightly precocious child then and admittedly slightly precocious adult now, I remember being filled with many questions surrounding this multifunctional torch. My Mom came into her room to find me sitting on her bed with this 7-inch vibrator in my hand definitely wishing she had found a more secure space for it.
Looking back I find this discovery both mildly traumatic and absolutely hilarious. I find there’s still so much shame surrounding female masturbation and pleasure and whilst I don’t think eight is the right age for having intricate discussions surrounding the purpose and use of a vibrator, I also don’t think dancing around the subject helps either. How many embarrassing discoveries have you found or awkward conversations have you had that would easily have been remedied with an honest and frank discussion? My Mom is legendary and from a young age made sure I was clued up on subjects and issues I needed to know about. She didn’t shy away from perhaps uncomfortable conversations. Though when it comes to the pink torch, I vividly remember her telling me it was something “grown-up” which made me shut up.
These seemingly irrelevant moments can really mould how you later see yourself and your body. A lot of my openness surrounding these topics stem from my Mom’s ability to not contribute to the narrative that pleasure is in some way taboo. Society has come a long way in terms of the way we’re able to discuss sex, sexuality, and our bodies. However, it’s important to appreciate that there are still gaps remaining and female pleasure can still seem to raise eyebrows for some. I remember shitting myself when my vibrator had accidentally been delivered to my Nan’s house. The thought of Carol opening up the Love Honey parcel made me shiver. As much as I love my Nan I appreciate that there are just certain topics we can never discuss… masturbation is one of them. In certain circumstances, I respect the notion that some topics are better left under (or over) the bedsheets… but this doesn’t mean that these topics should be shamed or stigmatised.
Female masturbation isn’t just about pleasure it’s about empowerment, every time you take ownership of your body and take control of your own pleasure you’re investing in so much more than an orgasm. From a young age, we’re socialised into not discussing and not learning about our basic anatomy and how to feel good. We grow up and engage in classrooms where sex education for most is limited and the highlight is often putting a condom on a banana and watching a film where people in white swimming caps are supposed to represent sperm racing towards an egg. Even as I typed this out I felt a pang of discomfort… thinking is this too much, what if family members read this, am I doing the topic justice as a twenty-two-year-old? Whenever I write I simply have to know that I am doing my best to discuss a topic of relevance to me that I hope will interest others. The more I discuss and try to write candidly about topics that still remain censored in some countries the more I hopefully widen debates even if only a fraction.
Let me know if you have any cringe-worthy stories to share or awkward conversations you had in your youth. I’m looking forward to writing more frank pieces!