My First Orgasm: The children’s story I never read by CaitlinWritten by Caitlin Logan
I had my first orgasm when I was ten years old. Lying stomach down on a single bed in my small, yellow bedroom, I was playing with my cuddly animals— I liked to make them speak to each other, fight each other, kiss each other. Shifting around, I felt something I wasn’t quite sure I had ever felt before. Something… good.
Interest peaked, I kept moving myself – and moving, and moving – until… it happened. I didn’t know the word for it, I didn’t know I had been looking for it, but I knew that it had something to do with sex, and I knew I wanted it to happen again.
I can’t say for certain how often I did it in those days, but it felt like it was all the time. I loved this new feeling but I also felt a sense of shame and fear. I feared that somebody would find out, or that they would somehow just know. Above all I feared how they would look at me; like something strange, dirty, wrong.
It was around this time that I started seeing discharge in my underwear, a precursor to the arrival of my period. I wondered if this substance had something to do with what I was doing with myself; I even recall worrying that I could be pregnant. I knew enough to know that didn’t really make sense, but I was paranoid and confused.
Soon, in anticipation of my bodily changes, my parents gave me a book about girls and puberty. I searched through the book and I was relieved to find a simple explanation for the fluid in my pants. “Great”, I thought to myself, “this book really is helpful”.
I leafed through to find the part about my other new experience, this distinctly sexual sensation I was so frequently enjoying. I scanned that book cover to cover and came up dry – so to speak. There was not a single mention of the words masturbation, orgasm, pleasure… nothing which could have provided an answer to my most pressing questions.
I was an avid reader as a child, and it wasn’t long before I read Judy Blume’s two puberty themed books: Then Again Maybe I Won’t (about a boy), and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (about a girl). Given that both books were written in the 70s, they perhaps couldn’t be expected to be as open on certain subjects as a pre-teen in the early naughties might have liked.
But with wet dreams and erections abounding (again, so to speak) in Then Again, my youthful thirst for knowledge was more than satisfied. By contrast, there was a total dearth of sexuality in Are You There God? Periods – yes, bras – sure, crushes – of course.
But the kind of acknowledgement of actual physical, sexual feelings, so openly expressed in the male version, was entirely absent. This was a running theme in so much of the media and literature I consumed growing up, and I’m not sure how much this has changed.
I recall watching an episode of ABC Family’s 8 Simple Rules where the younger brother is constantly locked in the bathroom, and the obvious implication is that he’s masturbating. It struck me how common and even family friendly this kind of moment was in TV and film, while the idea of a girl doing anything more than kiss a photograph of their (male) crush’s face was unheard of.
If the media wasn’t particularly helpful, the education system didn’t do much to clear things up either. From primary school puberty lessons to high school sex ed (which, let’s be honest, mostly consisted of being told the symptoms of various STIs and how to put on a condom), I still never heard the dreaded “O” word.
While most of these classes were gender segregated, we were all taught the gist of the “changes” experienced by boys (I seem to remember watching a pretty ridiculous cartoon video of a boy getting an erection), and of course we covered how babies are made (the stork brings them, right?).
By definition, this acknowledged the existence of boys’ sexuality, as a feeling and an action. Girls’ (and women’s) sexuality, on the other hand, always seemed to be presented as passive. Sex was something women consented to, not something they asked for, longed for, or fantasised about.
All of this did a pretty good job of leaving me wondering whether it really was wrong for a girl to be so- well- horny. The fact that I realised in my early teens that I was probably a lot more interested in other girls than boys didn’t help matters. Is it because I’m gay and I’m somehow more like a boy that I feel like this?
There were times when, out of guilt, I would bargain with myself to try to cut down or stop masturbating for periods of time. In a strange, don’t-step-on-the-cracks mindset, I would even tell myself that various, entirely unrelated, wishes would come true if I could wait two weeks before giving myself another orgasm.
Even while other girls my age were having sex with boys in some form, I genuinely felt that what I was doing was embarrassing. Most of my friends as a teenager were straight girls, and masturbation and orgasms were never subjects which were brought up or which I felt able to broach myself.
It wasn’t till I met my first real girlfriend at 17 that I felt able to discuss the subject openly, and from there began my realisation that my experience wasn’t at all unusual. Ten years on and I know this, and yet writing all of this publicly still feels uncomfortable– which is exactly why I am doing it.
Sexual feelings are not something anyone should need to feel ashamed of, and this is something which all young people should know when they start having those feelings, regardless of gender. As it stands there is a major gender disparity in this area- the implications of which are deserving of another blog or several- and that’s unlikely to change unless we keep talking and refuse to shut up about it.
I, for one, am tired of a world where it’s entirely common for women and ever younger girls to be represented as sexual objects for men’s enjoyment, while their internal experience of sexual desire and pleasure is effectively written out of existence.
So, I’m here to tell you that I am a woman and I knew how to masturbate before I knew how to do a quadratic equation and I continue to find it an infinitely more enjoyable activity.
Caitlin Logan is our Volunteer Blog Editor. She studied English and Politics at university, followed by a Masters in Equality and Human Rights. Fast forward a few short years later, and she has recently embarked on a new adventure in her dream job as a journalist. She loves writing, reading, Netflix binges, and roller skating- because she has to do something that sounds like a real hobby, and walking is boring anyway.