The first sexual feelings I had were so unmomentous and stick so little in my mind that I can’t really say much about my early sexual life. I was certainly sexual awake by the age of around 7 or 8, probably earlier.
I remember feeling a weird sensation Down There that I didn’t understand although I didn’t dislike it. It would come when, for example, I saw people kissing on TV – although in all honesty the idea of actually kissing anyone not related to me was the last idea I ever had, so why the sight of two people doing it on Dynasty should have done anything to me I will never know.
I remember that I vowed at least 700 times as a child to stop touching myself Down There – not because I had any idea that it was something sexual that I was doing, I knew nothing about Sex. It was just because Down There was where you went to the toilet and therefore I thought it was not such a clean place to be touching. I had an idea that it was dirty, but only in the sense that involves germs and stuff, not in any wider moral sense. I did also have a kind of consciousness that this wasn’t the sort of thing you mentioned to people, but I really don’t think this consciousness put the matter in any more sinister a light than the consciousness that you shouldn’t really mention your nose-picking habits.
In preparation for the next post in my current mini-series, a post on Sexual Repression, I have been thinking about sexual repression in my own life.
When I was young (before my sexual awakening), my parents sent me to Sunday school, something which I found somewhat strange because they manifestly did not Believe and never themselves showed the slightest bit of churchiness. Of course, it later became clear that their motive was simply to get a bit of peace on a Sunday morning. Clever plan. I remember liking the bible stories that we were told, and that’s about it. I never got Religion. Phew. Avoiding (patriarchal / sex-control) religion was lucky.
And my parents pretty much kept quiet on the Sex front. I remember once my mother sending my dad and brother out of the room so that she could have A Talk, and then her embarassment at having to acknowledge that I had Breasts and did I want to go out with her one day soon and buy a couple of Bras… Then, one day when I was older, I had this boyfriend and one day my Dad decided it was time that I had The Talk. I don’t recall much of the Talk, except there was some rather vague muttering about self-respect and my reputation and how people do talk if they think things. Of course I knew what he was getting at but it wasn’t in fact going to make any difference to how I felt about anything because he wasn’t actually saying anything and it wasn’t a conversation. It was a somewhat embarrassing attempt at The Talk, no more. Phew. Avoiding parental interference was lucky.
At home, we watched a little television, but had no video, never went to the cinema and didn’t really listen to any modern music: Dad preferred Radio Two and Mum preferred animals. Since we lived in the middle of nowhere, going to friends’ houses was rare. Actually, since I had hardly any friends, going to friends’ houses was rare. We didn’t waste time on TV or on boring grown-up stuff. I went to a very small primary school, and even when I went to secondary school I didn’t mix much and learned next to nothing about the schoolyard facts of life. And “proper” sex education didn’t start until it was too late, either. I learned in good time that you had to use condoms if you were going to have sex, and that was about it. Again, lucky me!
Because of the lack of any religious moralising about sex, my parents’ “failure” to have any influence on my sexual development, and my relative isolation from the sex “education” offered by mainstream life, I grew up fairly innocent.
(By “innocent” I mean – undamaged, unscarred. I mean I found my own way, instead of being shown some preordained way by others, or being forced by others along that predestined path. By “fairly” I mean – not so you’d notice without digging a little deeper.)
On reflection, I think I was lucky to grow up this innocent. I grew up fairly unflustered by sex, pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I never felt guilty about having sex. In my day, I had a lot of sex, and I had a lot of fun. It wasn’t perfect, but I would take what I had over most of the alternatives.
Coming up next: where all this leaves me, writing a post about sexual repression.