At age 3: Totally neutral, natural, and clueless about it. Self-gratification is just what you do until Mommy catches you at it and, with a look of disgust, scolds, “That’s NASTY!!! Stop that!!!” You have no idea what she’s upset about and have to assume that its a part of you that’s accidentally wrong and disgusting somehow. It’s a fair assumption considering that she reacted exactly the same way when you picked up someone else’s discarded ABC gum from the ground and were going to pop it in your own mouth. So you stop and never do it again where she can catch you at it.
Age 4: The pre-school is teaching us about germs and says that you can get germs from someone else spit, touch, or even their breath!
A boy promptly blows on my cheek and I freak out, very angrily tattling that “Johnny blew on me!” and insisting on permission to go and wash my face. I scrub is so hard with abrasive soap powder I come back with very red cheeks and Johnny is permanently out of my good graces.
Age 5: Under a willow tree at the park, a little boy approaches saying, “I’ll show you something of mine if you show me something of yours.
Instantly curious and instinctively wary, I don’t promise anything, merely asking, “What?”
He answers by unzipping his pants and shows a fat ugly pink caterpillar in place of what should have been normal genitalia. A total surprise since I certainly wasn’t expecting him to unzip his pants to show me the area my Mama deemed “Nasty.” Even so, I’m moved by round-eyed horror instead of outright disgust. Brutally honest, I say “EWWWW! You’re SO deformed! Does it hurt?”
He blushes before blurting out, “I showed you mine, now show me yours.”
“No,” I say, not bothering to add that Momma said it was nasty and implied it was unfit to be seen. And then I run away from him as quickly as my little legs can carry me.
I suspect my response may have scarred him for life. Poor kid.
Age 7: Running in to my parents bedroom one morning, I stop in confusion to find Daddy atop Momma and they’re both groaning as if in pain. Then they see me standing there and both start yelling at me to get out of there as if what they were doing was really, really bad and they’re so ashamed I caught them at it. I’m told to never EVER come in there again without first knocking.
I burst into tears and hurry out.
Gee wiz, all I wanted to do was to wake them up by jumping on the bed and wish them good morning.
Age 9: Sunday school. Eve bites the apple and shares it with Adam and they’re both suddenly aware of being naked and dress in big leaves out of embarrassment. When God comes to visit them and sees them dressed in leaves, the gig is up and he throws them out of the garden.
I’m confused. What’s wrong with the awareness itself? Sure they were told to stay away from the apple tree, but that’s the very first thing that made it tempting even before the snake got there. So who can really blame them? Why’d God get so uptight about this totally predictable result? It was like he wanted something to be upset with them about. I why were they embarrassed about their nudity when it had long been a natural state for them?
Age 11: More Bible stuff. Abraham’s wife Sara is old and has never born him a son so she gives him her handmaid to make a son on. Her choice. He humors her. The handmaid bears a son and so, later, does Sara. Then Sara gets all jealous of the handmaid and insists she be abandoned to die out in the desert with her son. A miracle spring keeps them alive, but the hell was wrong with Abraham and Sara that they could do this to them? Maybe it was the sex involved that raised them to such a level of hatred? Was sex a necessary evil but evil all the same?
David’s god tells him to kill the unbelievers, take their spoils but burn their houses, crops, and farm animals, cut the adult male prisoners in half, push the adult women down into wells to died, but to save the virgin males and females alike to be their sex slaves.
WTF??? This was my first really strong inkling that David’s god was no friend of humanity and certainly not of women. Especially not women.
Women being outcast or stoned to death for having had sex outside of marriage even if it was via rape… of it being okay to take them as sex slaves… of their being evil because they tempted men sexually….
Jesus saving a prostitute from being stoned to death just by saying to people who were going to stone her (most of them men), “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.” Classic example of using people’s own fears or weaknesses in order to get decent behavior out them.
They all walked away without throwing a single stone. None were innocent of sex outside of marriage.
Jesus was NOT his father apparently, but sex was apparently a sin, no matter that it’s natural for all species including US. Does that mean our designed is flawed with built-in sin so that we have to behave in ways unnatural to us just be considered good in whatever god’s eyes?
Age 12: Neighbor boy suddenly wants to be friends. Okay fine. But he keeps staring at the close my legs until, uncomfortable, I ask him to stop, he’s creeping me out. He protests that he has to look there in order to determine whether or not I’m “girl friend material.” I call him a creep and send him home.
The impression sticks. Any boy that insists on looking at the area deemed “nasty” by mom is a very bad person that should be avoided at any cost. They’re just as creepy as hell. Anyway, everyone knows that girl gets all the blame for anything the boy might do in that zone so they mustn’t be given the chance. It’s dangerous to tolerate their sexuality. Bad things always happen to the girls that do tolerate it.
Age 13: On a camping trip with my parents and favorite cousin when said cousin tackles and tries to kiss me on a sand dune. I fight him off and leave him there, pretty much avoiding him for the remainder of the trip.
Later, with some older girls, I sneak into a condominium complex being used by a baseball team during their spring training. It’s the swimming pool and jacuzzi that lured us in, but the boys – young men really – are very glad to have female company there and cheerfully invite us to stay and party with them. They’re so nice! And the one that sits next to me is especially nice, though he needs occasional chastisement to stay that way. Under the bubbles of the jacuzzi, his hand keeps wandering to my knee… which I kept removing it from.
I should mention here that at 13 I’m full grown and fairly well developed so my true age isn’t really obvious. I look like a young woman even though I’m still very much a kid.
He invites me back to his fancy condo when the party starts dying down and I’m clueless enough to think it would probably be a very innocent visit there, but I tell him I have to tell my parents first so they don’t worry about me and invite him to come back to the campfire with me.
He agrees, but just before we get to the campsite asks, “How old are?”
He blanches. Even in the dark I can seen the paleness of his face as the blood drains from it. “I think I’d better go back now,” he says. “Maybe another time.”
I give him a hug goodbye and he kisses me gently on the lips, a taste of beer and sweetness there. I can also taste and smell fear of some sort on him and it puzzles me. Kind of accidic. And then he leaves, first walking and then running.
I don’t realize until much later what actually transpired there.
Age 14: My older sister got her first boyfriend. They’re the same age but she looks like an adult, fully busted out, much larger than me, whereas he still looks like a kid. He give her her first French kiss and she tells all us younger girls about it during a Halloween slumber party when everyone else is telling ghost and horror stories.
She says, “You put your lips together and sort of suck on each other’s tongues. There’s a lot of spit involved.”
“Gross!” I say and I’m not the only one.
“Not really,” she says.
I look at her like she’s crazy and then suddenly suspect she’s just teasing me, deliberately trying to gross me out. “You’re making it up,” I accuse her and stop listening when she vehemently denies it.
That summer, during a road trip across country, I meet Kenny, a male 3rd cousin (though I don’t know the exact relation at the time). I take an absolute shine to and he to me as well. I like him so much and consider him so intelligent I can totally overlook the fact that he’s a guy. In fact, I start think that if ever I have to marry someone someday, it should be him. We spend hours playing Leggos together, walking, or talking.
A few months later, his grandmother comes to visit mine and gives me a letter from him. I write back. The letters eventually become love letters and during vacations, he always comes to stay with me and my family, all of whom make it clear that they expect us to marry.
Age 15: During a Christmas-time visit after everyone else has gone to bed and we’re sitting on the love seat by fire and Christmas tree, he gives me my first French kiss and I find out that my sister wasn’t making it up. I’m so horrified I jump up and try to run from him but he catches me and tries again. The second time is better. I start to like French kissing. I begin to forget about all those boy kooties I’d been so worried about…
More later if you can stand it and if I’m really, Really, REALLY brave. LOL.