Warning: Embarrassing, mature content ahead. I did it again – I abused a movie title, twisted it up and used it as the headline for my post. I learned how to do this in my Dad’s bible study. I have not seen Conan the Barbarian, but somehow I deemed this a suitable title for this post.
In my last post I talked about the extreme standard of purity me and many other girls in the different fundamentalist movements have to live up to (and usually fail, which causes deadly guilt in them).
Under the covers it looks quite a bit different. There’s a whole lot not-so-pure things going on.
Which, at this point, brings me to masturbation. I remember when I was a kid I was taught all about purity for ever since I can remember. But my parents missed the point a bit there: They never explained to me acts that would make me impure. So, while I strongly believed in purity, I just didn’t know that I could do impure things with myself. A kid of 10 years is too young to learn about these things, I guess, because once you get started talking about masturbation, you better expect the kid asking more questions about sex in every version of it.
So the point I’m getting at: Of course I did things my parents would sent me to the prayer closet for. And I didn’t even know that I wasn’t supposed to do it. I didn’t know of “masturbation” in the sense of it being a sexual practice and not ok, hence why I never really considered the actual act as that “wrong”. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do that, my parents would freak out about it. I must’ve been about 12 or 13 when I could sense what all of the fuzz was about, but I was yet somehow too silly to connect it with the fact that I was actually doing it myself occasionally. It didn’t occur to me, this connection. Can’t tell you why. I think I was like 14 when I finally made that connection and realized: “Oooops. That’s not supposed to happen!”. On I went, into the prayer closet, apologizing to God for the sodomy and stuff. But deep in my heart I couldn’t see the big deal. I didn’t see how it was adultery to my future husband – I didn’t think or fantasize about men at all!
However I want to point out that I didn’t know the “technical” side of it. I didn’t know what an orgasm was (though I had had one at some point, I’m guessing) and I also didn’t know how sex between a man and a woman worked. My best friend and I had a talk about my upbringing in the area of sex and the idea that I didn’t come to some sort of conclusion how it physically works on my own was oblivious to her. First I thought I was a bit dumb for not realizing it on my own until I found out why I never connected male and female genitals to their actual purpose: I think as a girl, you need to know that a man can have an erection to connect this. I never knew about that. Can you imagine a woman in her 20s and how she reacts upon finding out? “What?!?! How’s that working? That’s like… magic!”.
This and others I found out when my friend bought a book for me. It was a book on sex for teens and it was just the basic knowledge really. At first I acted like I didn’t need or want to read it but I crept into the kitchen, secretly, late at night, to get it and read it in bed. On almost every page I had a wow-moment. Not only did I learn about men for the first time in my life, I also learned about women.
I didn’t know about how pregnancies worked, or how the female body worked to begin with. I didn’t know that having your period actually had a physical function! I thought it was about being unclean and had something to do with growing up. I didn’t know the eggs business! I believed that a woman was just an incubator and that the babies were actually supplied only by the man! Part of this is due to the teaching that sin (and therefore the soul) is transferred to a child only by the father – which is why Mary didn’t give birth to a sinful, human child. She couldn’t because she was an incubator, like every other woman.
I was really shy about this topic, but my friend figured that me not knowing about it would make life in the real world harder for me. After all, I needed to know what I was getting into in case I wanted a relationship. And I guess she was right because the rate of unwanted pregnancies because people just don’T know how it works is pretty high.
A few months ago my roommate and best friend declared that she wanted to have “the talk” with me. She’d get some others to join in and explain to me what’s it all about. I was nervous, refused, yelled at her that she was stupid and embarrassing and I didn’t need her help at all. But deep inside I was excited to have this opportunity. She gave me a few days to make up my mind and while I felt like a stupid kid at first, I was so curious to find out so many new things. I decided that I wanted her to talk to me about it. So a few days later she asked me if I thought about her offer and I replied “I guess, if it makes you feel better…” with clear annoyance in my voice and excitement in my heart.
As I came home two days later, it was early evening and I had been at work, she was in the kitchen, cooking dinner with two male friends and another female friend of hers. I didn’t realize that it was the day of the talk. We ate together and afterwards had a glass of white wine. Finally, my roommate initiated a conversation about her experiences with love and sex. And then one of the guys went and everybody ended up discussing and exchanging. I thought the talk would be horribly embarrassing, but that actually felt natural and fun. I wasn’t demanded to ask questions or answer things. I could just sit and listen. They described a lot of different situations. Like how they reacted when their boyfriend wanted to have sex but they weren’t ready. How their first times went. What they felt about it in general, how important it was to them, what they find acceptable and so on. Especially interesting for me was when one of the guys talked about his experience with a one-night-stand (something I didn’t know but do now!). I expected him to be happy about it and show off, because we all know men are sex-obsessed monkeys, but the opposite was true. He felt it wasn’t for him, he had regrets about it because he felt he had disgraced himself and the girl and he feels like love is most important to have sex.
I was baffled. Everything I learned about sex and love was questioned that night. Could it be true that having sex before marriage doesn’t always break a person? That love sometimes doesn’t last a lifetime? That society doesn’t see sex as something cheap and easy but as sacred and special? That worldly men thought such a thing?
I still don’t know much on the subject, only what I have read and been told by my friends so far, but that didn’t make me go out and sleep around. I’m doubting that the abstinence only and purity movement is the only way to teach a responsible sexuality. But I’m really glad that finally, after over two decades of not knowing what this purity deal was even about I have at least a tiny idea of what’s going on between men and women.
In retrospective I have to say that I believe my wedding night would’ve been a traumatic event for me. So many things I didn’t know, I wasn’t taught about. How shocked would I have reacted, being thrown into that situation? Would it have messed up my view of sexuality? I’m pretty sure it would’ve had tough consequences for me and my entire life and I’m so glad I saved myself from something I couldn’t even grasp back when I ran away from it.