When I discovered masturbation (quite by accident) at the age of 12 and the intoxicating end result of it, the hypochondriac in me naturally thought I was experiencing the first signs of a stroke. Leaping up from the bath from whence I’d been rubbing myself, I glared at the porcelain accusingly. ”YOU HAVE KILLED ME!” I thought. ”I HAVE BEEN DOING THE DEVIL’S WORK, AND NOW GOD HAS FORSAKEN ME!”
I was a religiously troubled child. It took years to overcome the sense I was doing something wrong, but I’m proud to say now that I’m a firm advocate of being the master of your own domain. I only wish I’d had someone tell me that when I was young, embarrassed and filled with uncertain shame about what it was I was doing.
It saddens me to think that this might still be the case for girls today. We seem to be reluctant to discuss sex in relation to girls at all, terrified that we’ll be perceived to be sexualising them. Typically, ‘expert’ commentators on sexualisation (particularly those regularly sought after in Australia, most of whom seem eager to institute a nationwide distribution of chastity belts and clutchable pearls rather than any kind of sound advice) bristle at the mere mention of sex and teenage girls in the same sentence. Sex for girls is viewed as predatory, emotionally destructive, overwhelming and dangerous — a responsible, moral society seeks to protect its most vulnerable citizens from it, lest they be ruined forever, their fragile psyches crushed amidst discarded condom packets and whatever tawdry metaphor is supposed to represent their sullied virginity.
Unfortunately, girls are still the casual victims of a society that views sex as a rigid binary — something that boys are empowered to do, but that they must have done to them. Jokes about 13-year-old boys spending too much time in the bathroom are de rigeur, because we have no discomfort with the idea of boys touching themselves. It’s natural, they’re boys - everyone knows that they’re biologically predisposed to want sex ALL THE TIME. Don’t you know they think about it every seven seconds?
And so forth.
But teenage girls… they’re a different story. Our hesitation to discuss the real fact of young female desire and sexual awakening is spawned from our hysteria over sexualisation. Because sex is something that ‘happens’ to girls, discussing it taps into that fear that others will think we’re preoccupied with it. That in the discussion of it, we are ourselves exhibiting unnatural and predatory desires.
It’s impossible for some people to believe that girls can actually engage with their sexuality, can seek out sexual experiences willingly and responsibly and without risk of permanent psychological damage.
Read the whole (fantastic) piece from Clementine Ford here.