Photo illustration by Tina Wallace
Let’s be honest. We all do it. At one point, we discovered how magical masturbation truly is. These brave souls have delved into the details of their first time being intimate — with themselves.
Who needs Ken?
I was a child who liked to fantasize. I take it back. I was a child who needed to fantasize. I didn’t need to be entertained or taken on outings or be kept busy I needed to be left alone to imagine.
My mother would put me near my books and dolls and paper and crayons and I’d be good to go until my stomach or my bladder distracted me from my focused musings. My Barbies went on endless adventures saving the world by tightrope walking on a piece of yarn from the bookshelf to the embattled world on the windowsill. They took each other’s temperatures and heartbeats wearing only pantyhose and a lab coat, and sometimes a pair of hot pink roller skates. They discovered each other’s beige boobies and lightly outlined panties painted tautly on their tiny square buttocks. They scissored each other and stood on street corners naked. They had soapy baths that left their hair mangled and infinitely more capable of holding a style. Then they got bored. Their legs could only rotate forwards and back. Their prostitute wardrobe choices had been exhausted. They’d all been pregnant with the same oversized baby, they’d dated each other and every Ken — even the skinny ones I had inherited from the ‘60s whose knees cracked with fascinating flexibility. The skinny Ken had dated the buff Ken, the buff Ken had braided and re-braided Danny’s New Kids on the Block rat tail. I had exhausted all the options.
Then I happened upon one of my mother’s harlequin romance novels. I sat in my perfectly organized yellow and red bedroom, lazily flipping through the book when my eyelids were zapped open by a lightning bolt of a word. “Nipple.” It stood out on the page. NIPPLE. Time stood still. The dust mites moved in slow motion around my head in a frozen moment.
More context … I needed more context.
I read backwards through the passages preceding the word that had zapped me into this tingling time bubble: “He kissed her deeply, languishing in her scent. His hand unbuttoned the top of her blouse, slowly grazing the top of her breast. His finger snuck under the edge of her lace bra to pinch her hardened NIPPLE.”
It happened when I tinkled
I couldn’t tell you about the first time I masturbated, not because I am nervous or embarrassed to tell the tale, but because I just plainly don’t remember.
You see, I am the spawn of a poet and a child psychologist, two very well educated, sex positive people, and the topic of masturbation was never a subject of interest in my schoolyard clique. So masturbating felt as natural to me as eating macaroni and cheese or taking a shower. The event itself must have been unsatisfactory, or in the least, uneventful, because I can’t remember not masturbating. The discovery must have been a fluke I have long forgotten. Either that or furiously fapping was an activity programmed into my brain from birth.
What I can tell you about the first time I remember spanking the monkey goes as follows:
I think I was peeing.
I remember being about six or seven years old. It was summer. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was taking a piss. I remember feeling the urge to go, and I zipped to the bathroom, did my business, gave it a shake … and another shake … and it felt nice, so I kept shaking and shaking until, BOOM. UGHHHH. What was that?
Needless to say, I got excited every time I had to pee. And still do to this day.
For the love of God
I learned about getting off from a Christian book on puberty that my parents gave me sometime between sprouting body hair and getting my period.
It had a sexy title like Journeying Through Adolescence, or something like that, and spent its chapters detailing the myriad temptations that could keep me from becoming the “nice girl” I was supposed to be. I read the testimonials from the repentant former masturbators and promptly stuck a hand down my pants. This was probably not the effect my parents and the author had intended, but it marked the start of the beautiful relationship I have with my lady parts, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Today, I make a living selling high-tech sex toys in my favourite feminist toy and book shop, but when I was figuring my body out, I used whatever DIY tricks I could think of, and, of course, Google. It didn’t always go smoothly. I once pulled the showerhead right out of the wall mid-orgasm. I ruined a very expensive electric toothbrush. I broke my hymen with a candle. The discovery that I could ejaculate came at a seriously inopportune time. What did all of these things teach me? To sometimes not take myself and sexy times too seriously. Sex is funny. Bodies are neat. Touching feels good. Unexpected things happen.
What else have I learned from fucking myself? To sometimes take myself very seriously. I am intimately familiar with my texture, smell, and taste, so that I know when my body is well and unwell. My body is mine, I am in charge of it, I am kind to it, and I know how to work it better than anybody else. These are not things that I learned from that misguided gift of a book, and the curious thing is that in the process of learning them, I unlearned a massive weight of shame, and it felt good. Really, really good.