(Or Sister’s Hoods)
When my sister and I dine out, restaurant servers invariably learn to make eye contact as they approach, giving us a good fifteen feet worth of time to moderate ourselves. That because us girls are usually yapping away about sex. Last time out, we really outdid ourselves. At one point over pasta, my sister looked at me and asked, “When did you discover masturbation?” I asked her to qualify the question, as in when did I sense it, know about it, or discover the joys of it?
Dumbfounded that I’d complicate so simple a question, she elaborated.“When did you start playing with yourself ?” Her tone was more flat-out blanket statement, rather than gentle question.
Well, the truth must come out, I decided.
“36,” I admitted.
My admission stunned my sister. To her surprise, I had taken a roundabout route in the quest for self-pleasure, a quest that was, in fact, novel length and near-epic in nature. My sister’s, by comparison, measured out as a pithy short story.
“I was four,” she said. “I was sitting on the couch, watching TV. I found this spot between my legs and thought ‘Great! A new toy! And I don’t have to share it!’ Mom came upstairs with some laundry and asked me what I was doing.”
Mom. I could hear her accusatory tone in my head.
“What’d ya tell her?”
“ ‘Nothing,’ ” she said in her finest little girl voice. “Then I wandered off to my room to play by myself.”And with herself. (My sister always did know how to blow off Mom.)
I wasn’t quite that savvy that young. In fact, I was a little too malleable, given how I bought into Mom’s attitudes towards self-touching. I told my sister when I first became aware of arousal. “I was at least five because we were commuting from the air force base to our home, off-base.”
Daily we drove to and from Las Vegas to Nellis AFB, an air force family collectively commuting to work and school. We kids loved driving through the desert arroyos — deep dips in the roads that marked where flash flood waters ran during rare rains — and we had lovingly named them “chip dips.” I often felt the flutter of the arroyo roller coaster reach from my stomach to both my throat and my clit in an amazing two-way progression of sensation.
“One time,” I recounted, “I mentioned ‘boy, that chip dip tickled my yo-yo’ and Mom let me know in no uncertain terms that I’d said something disgusting.” In fact, the five-year-old me was deeply shocked, hurt, and shamed to find my innocent comment could invoke such wrath. She didn’t know what to do except sit by, silently wounded.
My mother’s reaction imparted to told me that somehow my body was objectionable and it could do objectionable things, things that you best ignore if you didn’t want to face repeated parental condemnation. My ensuing shame and confusion shut me down; I never did discover that ever-ready “toy.”
On the other hand, my sister was a case study in extended virginity, and masturbation had helped her wait. She relied on her toy to get her through those moments when her body craved sexual release, she developed a positive relationship with her clit and her orgasms, and I can’t help but observe that self-pleasure empowered her to claim her sexuality when and how she wanted it. Which was at seventeen, the world average for losing your virginity in industrialized western countries.
But, my sister reminded me, masturbation didn’t solve everything for her. Once she spread her legs for shared, mutual pleasure, she went through a brief but intense period of promiscuity. She had more lovers in a few months’ time than I had in my entire life. Masturbation had damned up the waters but it didn’t stop the eventual flood.
Which brought me to ask myself: Had my experiences brought me lasting unhappiness or damaged me? Honestly, no. The only discomforts I felt were at the hands of social expectations. And it’s difficult to admit I wasn’t as enlightened in sexual expression as I thought I was. But one can make up for lost time and be happily unrepentant about the past.
Mid-Life Learning Curve
And I did find paths of action and understanding. I realized than in ignoring the possibilities of masturbation, I had always alternated between complete celibacy or taking the occasional lover; I had always lived on the contrasting thresholds of the nunnery and the whorehouse. Even in marriage, that pattern stayed entrenched within me.
But mid-life changed that. Call it a hormonal kick in the ass, but mid-life was swift, horny, and I couldn’t ignore it. Sex didn’t assuage my physical hunger, not even in it rawest form, frequency and fury. Fuck me sore and my body still ached for more. So one summer day, I could stand it no longer. With the kids outside, the windows closed to the stagnant summer air, I placed a body massager to my clit, turned it on and exploded fully in thirty seconds flat.
After that, I developed a personal virtuosity in masturbation. I learned to bring myself to orgasm by hand. I learned how to keep myself on edge, prolonging the experience by denying myself repeatedly, sometimes failing in the process as my cunt gasped a la last-laugh. I learned how to bring an edge to masturbation by adding nipple clamps to the mix or by using two vibrators at once, one for the cunt, one for the clit. I learned the erotic value of viewing porn, whether net-captured or cable-scrambled. (Even a flash of fucking can go a long way when you’re too lazy to dial up pay-per-view.)
These days, my only lasting embarrassment is that I resisted masturbation for so many years, especially in the face of my otherwise adventuresome sexual spirit. It’s disconcerting to admit that I could be well-versed vin several sexual areas yet so stunted and ignorant in this one most basic area. Still, if I can overcome that repression, I think I can survive this particular personal discomfort.
These days, I know my pleasures. I’ve teased out the erotic edges of self-touch for myself. I’m satisfied. Still, there’s always new twists to explore new ones, namely shared masturbation. I’m firmly ensconced in a Master/slave relationship and Master often masturbates me as an expression of erotic possession. He’ll bring me to the brink, then either deny me completion or drive me to raw tenderness through repeated orgasms. Or he’ll command me to do myself for his viewing pleasure. Or he’ll demand a period of chastity from me. Whatever ploy Master chooses, masturbation is an exciting exercise in erotic power. And I love these twisted variations on the theme.
Other rituals have emerged in my life as well. When I told my sister how cock-and-cunt fiction aided the batteries, she started lending me Susie Bright’s anthologies. In return, I give her sneak previews of my fiction. Book reports have become part of the sex talk we indulge in along with bread, wine, and salads.
My sister’s spunky attitude towards masturbation has taught me a lot. She’s taught me the value of keeping in touch with myself, no matter how sexually fulfilled I may otherwise be. She’s taught me that self-touch provides a sense of strength and independence; it builds one’s intimate knowledge of the erotic body and mind. And, should I ever have to face the tedium of long commutes to work, she’s taught me the practical value of keeping a vibrator under the driver’s seat of the car.
When I think back to that moment when I admitted my mid-life discovery of masturbation, I still blush a little. It’ll probably take years before I can think about my repressive celibacy without some level of unease, but the adventure of self-exploration far outweighs any lasting embarrassment. And although I have lingering mixed feelings about my past, my present is all the more enriched for having doped my way through to enlightenment.
Not to mention that I’ve gained a whole new way to appreciate myself and my inherent solitary nature. Which means I spend a fair amount of “quality time” with myself. And all this talk has made me hungry. Pardon me while I go off to feast.
Article used with permission. ©Debra Hyde