Arnold: When I was about 5, my cousin and I . . . went into the basement and dropped our pants. We touched each other’s penises, and that was it. I guess I didn’t realize the total significance of the secrecy in which we carried out this act. For later . . . my parents questioned me . . . and I told them exactly what we had done. They were horrified and told me that that was definitely forbidden (Morrison et al., 1980, p. 24)
Despite Arnold’s parents’ “horror,” same-sex sexual play in childhood does not foreshadow adult sexual orientation (Reinisch, 1990). It may, in fact, be more common than heterosexual play. It typically involves handling the other child’s genitals, although it may include oral or anal contact. It may also include an outdoor variation of the game of “show” in which boys urinate together and see who can reach farthest or highest.
I’ve been made to feel guilty about my body and about normal sexual exploration as a child, since I was young. I was told that I was oversexed, I was dirty, that young ladies didn’t touch themselves there, that I was too young to be doing that, etc. Then, when my cousin (slightly younger) and experimented, like the above example, and we were caught by my Aunt, I was lectured by father. He actually did a great job of gently telling me that it wasn’t okay. It was my crazed, stoner Aunt who went off and was yelling insults at me. She said I was gay, that I needed help, that I was disgusting.
The logical part of me knows that what we did was mere childish experimentation and nothing more. The scared, guilty child in me wonders if my cousin thinks I coerced her. I am worried that she thinks I’m some molester. That now she’s in therapy or that she needs therapy or something, because of it. It’s so painful, I push it away and don’t think of it. It goes into my gut. For Christ’s sake, I was fucking molested! I know how it feels and to think that someone out there, let alone family, might think that about me or feel the same way I feel towards the man who did it to me; I could kill myself right now without hesitation.
I will never talk to her about it. Ever. This is something I will just have to resolve with myself or just live with, kind of. I guess writing this is a way of living with it, sort of.
I will never talk to my mother or my mother’s sister (different Aunt) about how they shamed me and made me feel like shit for being perfectly normal about my body. Yes, I touched myself when I was young and I did so in front of the TV, when I thought no one was around. Yes, I masturbated when I had no inkling what the hell masturbation was; I just knew it felt good. Instead of making me feel bad and scarring me psychologically for the rest of my life, how about talking to me about it and educating me? Luckily, I plan on talking to any children I have. I won’t scar them for life and make them feel self conscious every time they pleasure themselves as a teen or adult.
Way to go, bad parents.
Sex ed rocks and good sex ed should be mandatory to have children. Sexual psychology is a prerequisite.