My first sexual memory dates far back, when boxes were pirate ships, summer endless and my n’unkle a jungle gym. The couple next door had a daughter about the same age as me and through the grapevine, we grew besties pretty quick. We exchanged stickers that we saved, we climbed trees, we build castles for our dolls and we dressed up in her mothers make-up. We did all the typical things that little kids do, alongside the first glimpse down the breaches.
She had a nurses play-set, complete with stethoscope, band-aids and a thermometer. Sitting in the dimmed basement, in between the tiny train-tracks we weren’t allowed to operate yet, I lay gravely ill. As most recollection from that age, this is a hazy interval. One image remains to me, clear as a Polaroid snap. Her little hands fiddling the instrument, her white plastic jacket in the background. Our giggles over the pill-box that we filled with M&M’s. The stern look Dr. Sophia would wear when she proclaimed I was going to die of Mikelarenditieris and her whispering “You’re sick. I need to take your temperature.”
She’d hand me the trinket and I would slip out of my panties, crouch and slide the toy inside me. Afterwards I’d hand it back to her, she would examine it thoroughly, then toss it back in her medical case and heal me according to the condition of the day. It was our favorite game to play.
I was sick with nothing, but happy little tickles in my lower abdomen.
It was one of those interactions children see no harm in whatsoever themselves, but when parents find out, they become a problem. Her dad walked in during an examination, saw us and got seriously upset. My mother picked me up, and playtime was over. Sophia never came to my house again. I received no explanation, safe from a firm look and no dessert. When I finally had the guts to ask my mother why, she sat me down and said sighing that we did a bad thing. If I ever tried that sort of thing again, I’d never keep any friends. And that was that.
This story is not unlike to a variety of others. But at age five, it set the tone.
Toying with the no-no zone was bad.
I remember one more tit-bit form that age. I have a little brother, who, just like me, was also the experimenter. He started discovering his privates as a source of pleasure at age four and to the dismay of my mother played constantly with his penis when given the chance. We went to the park often as a family activity. One day, there was a sculptures exposition being displayed. One piece particularly struck my little sibling, and he went right up there to feel the craftsmanship for himself. I recall my father bursting out in laughter when he realized his son was fiddling with the rock-hard nipple of Venus in all her bronze glory. It’s a popular tale in our family and to this day, gets a boast at many a get-together. My brother is always the one to grin the widest when it’s being dissed out, sharing a deviously charming smile with his girlfriend.
My story, however, is never talked about. Not the one when I was five.
Not the one when I was ten, and banned form another house because my friends mother thought me wild, explicit and a bad influence.
I had polluted her innocent with talk of kissing boys.
Not the one where I was fourteen, called out for wearing skirts too short. Not the one where I was fifteen, and wet the bed squirting. When I went to my mother, scared and unpracticed in my own bodies capability she shushed. The sheets, she threw out.
She held me. Assured me that it was just a trivial accident. No one would ever know. No one would make fun of her little girl. My tales are silenced, as my body should remain covered. While, to me, those occurrences could be considered just as cute, giddy and endearing as my brothers first steps into the wild. They are not the same. Because I’m a girl. For a girl to explore her sexuality is a sin. For a girl to sit legs spread is an invitation. It’s inappropriate, shameful, a scarlet A across my chest. I am now 22 and finally learned that it is A-Okay to wet the bed squirting.
Sexuality is puberty to the core, and often a harsh learning process. To this day, especially for girls. We have enough shame of our own budding breasts without society mocking, hiding and objectifying them. We’re scared enough when we have intercourse for the first time without having to fear the label “slut”.
I may be otherwise wired, but I am a person just as much. One with a healthy apatite. And I think it’s high time we started valuing that for what it is.
Completely and utterly human.