FORBIDDEN FRUITS? HIDDEN DESIRES? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO, BUT KNOW YOU SHOULD NOT DO? DO YOU OR DON’T YOU? Let me tell you about the secret desire I have fulfilled since I was eight or nine. I don’t make much of a secret about it now, but once it was definitely something I thought I shouldn’t be doing. No, it is not a major sin–I don’t molest children, secretly poison animals, things like that.
I think my secret sinning started with reading in bed using a flashlight with the covers pulled over my head. I do not need lots of sleep, something my parents didn’t understand, most of that generation and many of today’s parents still don’t get that a few of us are what are now called short sleepers. Five or six hours of sleep do me very nicely. My secret night-time pleasures began as soon as I learned to read, which was early—I have two learning disabilities, but dyslexia is not one—thank you all higher powers. I went willing to bed and then pulled the covers over my head and using a flashlight read. As flashlights need batteries and there wasn’t a lot of money to spare, other pleasures were discovered.
Not sure how I knew at eight or nine, that masturbating was not a pleasure others should know I had discovered, but I knew. Moreover, it I paid for indulging with guilt.
When I “fell off the roof” (my mother’s term for menstruating), she gave me a Kotex, a sanitary belt and a book that had been given to her. I was twelve. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to attach the Kotex to the belt and then step into it. All the time, all I wanted was to read that book.
I was interested mainly in two things. What a penis looked like and what this birds and bees text had to say about the Big M? The penis was briefly illustrated by a line drawing and the drawing was not any more satisfying than the few nude male statues I had seen at the Philadelphia Museum of art Disappointing, but not as disappointing as the section on the Big M.
What I read went something like this: “One only has to visit an insane asylum to know the dangers of self-gratification. It is clearly one of the major causes of insanity.”
Well, that stopped my sinning for about three weeks. Then I decided I’d risk insanity, but fear did get added to guilt. My husband says the fear was justified and my self indulgence explains why I am wacky. Fortunately, he also agrees wacking accounts for his being wacked. I never told my sons this story, so it is a good thing they have no interest in reading what I write. Might upset a few other family members or friends. But, I hope it opens more minds than it upsets.
The demonizing of masturbation as some of you know is one of my rants.
I am told the one paragraph I wrote suggesting masturbation was not only not bad, but healthy in my Good Kids Do Bad Things kept it out of Christian book stores.
Once when I mentioned at a workshop masturbation might be a better solution than abstinence to slowing a teen’s rush to intercourse, three audience members walked out. Never happened to me before or since. And I still make such remarks when talking about teens and sex.
It is still mainly a forbidden subject. Blows my mine. Such a pleasure and tension reducer and forbidden. Sigh. One of the nicest articles I read on the subject, describes a young man who finally worked up the courage to tell his blue haired elderly female therapist that he masturbated and had some worries about that practice. She just asked him the following questions:
Do you masturbate instead of taking advantage of intercourse when the opportunity presents itself?
Do you masturbate so often your penis gets inflamed or sore?
Do you masturbate and end up late for work?
Does it interfere with any of the other things you need to be doing?
Do you enjoy it?
When he had answered “Yes” to all her questions, she shrugged her shoulders and asked, “So what is the problem?”
Enabled him to dump his guilt and decreased mine as well. Sorry I no longer have the reference to the article. Well maybe I do buried somewhere in my various syllabi, but time is fleeting and I have to get this posted soon or the day is done here in Colorado.
I share this in the hope it relieves someone’s guilt. I also hope the younger generation has less guilt, but from some of my students reactions when I brought the subject up in the courses on Adolescent behavior I taught a CUSSW and Smith College, it remains a secret sin for far too many.
Meanwhile, care and share and stay strong.
Topic #121: Write about something you want to do, but know you shouldn’t. Bonus: Ambivalence, or conflicting feelings, are more common than most people let on. Why do you think this is? Or are you ambivalent about ambivalence?
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