Friday, October 26, 2012

No, I Am NOT Master of My Domain...I Don't Even Want to Be!

Masturbation. There, I said it. It's out there. Now, let's talk about it freely, openly, honestly, and like we're not freaks for saying it, knowing about it, and doing it - because we ALL do.

It has always bugged the heck out of me that masturbation is a socially accepted norm for males, but still taboo for females. I'm on a one-woman mission to bring the joys and benefits of masturbation out into the great, wide open. Here's why: our kids do it, too, and I have a real problem with people having real problem with that.

Babies masturbate. Even in ultrasounds, babies can be seen touching their genitals. Toddlers masturbate. Preschoolers masturbate. Kids masturbate. This goes for boys and girls. Masturbation is not exclusive to junior high school boys with their mom's Victoria's Secret catalog. Masturbation is not exclusive to bachelor men with too much time on their hands. I was a masturbating machine. And good for me! (I say was, because I have a child attached to my body a pretty fair chunk of the time now and that leaves precious little alone time for such enjoyment. The fun shall return with time, however.)

Masturbation is normal, natural, and healthy. Men who ejaculate frequently are less prone to prostate cancer. Women who orgasm frequently are more prone to, well, does it even matter? I mean, orgasms just feel good and they're their own benefit!

The littlest ones are not touching themselves to experience climax. It just feels good. Besides, they spend so much of their time disconnected from their genitals (while in a diaper), so when they break free for a moment, they want to explore and discover their bodies. Far too often, when those little hands start exploring those little parts, parents fend them off and keep them from doing so. Mothers, in particular, are apt to find masturbation in their children, especially their girls, embarrassing and uncomfortable. This is a cycle of shame. Girls are told they should be little ladies. The glory that is masturbation is kept from them. Nobody speaks about it to them or with them. They grow up thinking they're the only ones who do it and feeling ashamed of that - ashamed of their bodies. They go on to either continue feeling that shame or fighting that shame, though, in some part many never get past it. It then passes on to their kids, especially their girls. Someone has to break the cycle. I am that someone. So are you.

When I was little (5-6 years old), I remember going to bed every night and touching myself. I wasn't doing it for pleasure purposes. I had yet to discover my clitoris to any real extent. I was just checking stuff out. I was feeling the folds and the different textures of my labia. Every night, my dad would come tuck me in. He would smell my hands to see if I had been touching myself and scold me for doing so. It didn't stop me, but it sure made me feel like a vile, horrible human being. And I felt ashamed.

When I was a teenager, I was caught masturbating with a back massager. Privacy and boundaries were no-nos in our home, so my parents walked in and out of my room, even if the door was shut, freely and with complete entitlement. I was never talked with, never told that what I was doing was OK. Instead, while I was at school the next day, they found and threw away that tool in the outside garbage can, even going to the extreme of making sure it was hidden under other trash in the receptacle. It didn't stop me, but it sure made me feel like a vile, horrible human being. And I felt ashamed.

As an adult with my first few sexual partners, I had no idea that mutual masturbation was not only OK, but GOOD and FUN and seen as a plus. I hid the fact that I masturbated. And I hid the fact that I was intimately familiar with my body, that I knew what felt good to me. As a result, I was probably not as active a partner as I could've been in those very early years of sexual activity.

Luckily, I'm a fast learner. Masturbation is fantastic! Masturbation is most certainly not shameful in any way for anybody. Masturbation is fun for kids of all ages, you know, like Monopoly, but not.

The bottom line is this: masturbation is normal and natural. And your kids won't know otherwise unless YOU teach them otherwise. Don't. Just don't. You get the choice whether to perpetuate or break the cycle. Choose to break it.

17 comments:

  1. Had this conversation with my hubby a couple of weeks back. At the same time, we discussed how expressing disgust while changing dirty nappies and such could create similar lifelong shame (I feel very fortunate to often have such philosophical and psychological pillow talk, haha). Anyway, awesome post - I'm going to share it :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome!! Wish more people felt this way about it, and very glad you were able to overcome your childhood shame about it.
    The only thing I've taught my sons about it (3y and 9m) is that they should wait until they're in the bath to touch those parts - have to make sure your hands are clean first :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry you were shamed for feeling good. And thank you sooo much for this post. I tell my girls that if they are going to touch themselves, to go to a private area (like their room) to do so while keeping my tone of voice nice and light. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had the same experience as a child. Being shamed for touching myself. So disconnected from my body. I didn't even know what a clitoris was until I was 14! I thought I was suppose to pee from there and that I was weird that I didn't. My daughter [18 months] is always fondling herself, if her hands are clean, and it's just us, I let her at it. How is she suppose to know what her body is, and what it likes and dont like if she doesn't explore? My son is 7 and knows that he is allowed to touch himself but his hands need to be clean and he is to do it in private. I'm 24 and I'm still super shy about expressing what I want when it comes to sex, and I think it's from years of being told that's bad, vile, gross etc. I'm breaking that cycle with my children. I'm teaching them the PROPER names, and functions and making sure they grow up with a healthy NORMAL relationship with their body, and sex when that time comes. Thank you for talking about this, too many people hide from something that is normal. Besides masturbation is freakin' awesome, gets rid of my headache everytime. ;)-Shay

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am trying to do this with my children. I do talk about clean hands and that it is a private thing so to do it either in the bath or not in front of anyone. I was not talked to when I was younger (thought I was dying when I got my first period and when I told my mother I was bleeding she was happy and said "glad it happened before school starts". She didn't explain what was going on! I grew up under the impression that bodies are dirty and disgusting. I'm 27 now and have never had an orgasm, am very shy about bodies and have a hard time enjoying sex. I do not want my children to go through that. I have talked with my husband but he still tells the kids not to touch themselves and that it's gross :(

    ReplyDelete
  6. Have to post here not FB so I can be anonymous- lots of shame at my house about it, though not to the extent of smelling my hands! That's so disturbing...

    As a fairly young person, not sure how old (9-12?) I had already discovered masturbating and orgasms, without having names for them. I always hid under my bed to do it for a long time, so that if anyone walked in they wouldn't surprise me at it- obviously I had the impression it was wrong. And theeeeeeen my mom sat me down one day and along with a description of the way a clitoris works (it gets squished between the man and woman when they have sex and feels good...), I was told that touching It yourself is called masturbation and it is wrong. I remember the icy, icy shame as I realized I knew what she meant and that I was a bad, disgusting person, and that we were having this discussion bc my parents knew/had figured out that I was doing this... I'm so ANGRY that I was told this, but it isn't as though I'd ever bring it up. That pretty much set the tone for all my "sex Ed" too. Wait till you're married or it's wrong, if you're going to play with fire make sure you have fire extinguishers, ... I'm trying, trying, trying to break the cycle, but talking about sex at all, with pretty much anyone, is really, really awful for me. I have anxiety attacks when I try, so fortunately/unfortunately most of my talks with my own kid occur when I've been drinking. But at least I'm trying, right? :/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd love to break the cycle, but how do you tell kids to touch themselves in private, when they are alone, without giving the impression that they should be ashamed of it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My post answers your question perfectly. It's the pass the pepper one. Just tell them "yea that feels good , but can you do it in your bedroom?" Just calmly and straight forward .

      Delete
    2. You just put no more emphasis on it than you do any other normal conversation. It'll only be a big deal if you make it into one.

      Delete
  8. Also commenting here, so I can be anonymous. :) I'd learned from a sex educator friend about the importance of sex ed from birth - starting with not referencing anything about a diaper change or genitals being "gross"/etc. With my son (who is now a little over 5), we do as someone above commented - we talk lightly about "private parts" being private, and that it's fine if he wants to play with his penis but it's only for doing in private - making the connection about PRIVATE for him (which he totally already got about private parts). Know we just give him the cue "only in private" or "that's just for private time" if he's putting his hands in his pants or playing with himself in the bath (we do baths together with his toddler sister, plus we are still in there with him most of the time so that isn't considered "private" at this point!).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dr. Ruth says to compare it to picking your nose. It's fine to do but impoliet in public. Maybe also saying its like undressing, you be private about it? Still dreading how to discuss it (and do find it uncomfortable when baby reaches down there) but hopefully she'll have much less hang ups than I do.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Guess I grew up blessed, we were told (2 girls) as kids to do it in the bathroom or our room thats it. Um so when dd came and started it was as simple as telling her "that feels good right? And that's ok, but can you do it in your room or in a bath?" And i'll be dammed but that was her little friend for years ! I have told her fingers are ok but don't put other stuff up there bc you could get hurt , but that has been it . Hope this helps others who grew up differently , just don't make it a big deal talk as calmly as you would asking them to.pass the pepper lol

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post! Glad you were able to get past your childhood shame, so unfortunate you and so many others are taught that by parents. I think my sister in law was probably the first person to make me feel like that kind of self exploration was okay...she and my oldest brother got married when I was 8, had a girl soon after. I distinctly remember being with her while she was changing her diaper one time. My niece put her hand down at her vulva, and even though she was clean & had been wiped down I moved her hand away. My sister in law didn't get mad at me or anything, just kind of said to my niece in baby talk that it's okay, she's just exploring herself etc.

    Some years later, my 2nd niece whenever she was stressed etc, would often play with herself after school while watching TV to relax. My sister in law always made sure to let her know it was okay to do that, but she needed to do it in her room as a 'private time' kind of thing.

    I don't recall my parents ever doing anything that made me feel like that was wrong, but it also wasn't openly discussed like a lot of other things. Family dynamics have changed a lot now that I'm in my 20s, and someday I plan on making sure my kids know whatever they wish to explore about their own bodies is perfectly normal :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow such a great post! Really eye opening, about the problem generations have created "shaming" masturbation and about the normality of masturbation. I grew up in a loving kind home and I was never shamed about my privates, but I also never remember any normal conversations about exploring myself so I never did it, and I grew up thinking it was weird. It is such a difficult illusion to get past, that a woman's own body is weird to touch or explore or enjoy for herself, even as a married adult it's hard to free my mind of old ways of thought. With a baby daughter, I've been blessed with the need to get over it now, so I don't pass on the uncomfortable discussions and "off-limits" attitude about the body down to her. Will be doing lots of sex-ed/parenting reading the next few years, hahaha. Thanks for helping to break the cycle, Zen!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Any suggestions for a 3 year old who sometimes notices and touches her little brother's privates in the bath? I try to ignore, or just say "that is so-and-so's", but she might keep doing it, especially if he laughs, it just encourages her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents made a funny song they used to sing about respecting each others "privates ". It got the message accross in a way we understood.

      Delete
  14. When my son started asking questions I answered everything (using correct names) without being awkward about it. He knows he has a penis and I have a vagina & vulva. Every now and then he goes through phases when he wants to touch himself more often. Now that he has his own room I'm working on getting him to only do it in his room. I secretly masturbated all the time when I was growing up and I thought I was a freak because of it. Now I'm doing my best to not make him feel weird about it.

    ReplyDelete