Shame thrives in isolation and silence. Thank you for witnessing these stories, and for lessening my burden by doing so.
I invite all who would like — whether you typically comment on blogs or not — to share in the comments any part of this post that resonated for you, any memories it may have brought up, or any other thoughts you wish to convey.
“Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)” is part of an ongoing memory project. The entire series can be found here.
When I was a kid, I loved listening to musicals. I would sing along to my mom’s records as often as she’d let me, holding a toilet paper tube as a microphone and belting out my own off-key (but enthusiastic!) renditions. Eliza Doolittle’s Cockney-accented “Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins” was a particular favorite of mine.
So was anything-and-everything Julie Andrews.
Even if you don’t have the same fond memories of this song as I do, I hope you agree: May tends to be a lovely time of year.
My mother emailed me a link to an article this week, together with the note:
Maybe you already knew this, I know you collect a lot of esoteric info.
The article was a Daily Kos piece titled, The Strange History of Corn Flakes. I knew even without clicking that it would tell the story of the Kellogg brothers and Dr. John Kellogg’s obsessive quest to stop the world from masturbating.
By getting us all to eat corn flakes instead.
(When Mom talks about my interest in ‘esoteric info,’ she generally means ‘stories about masturbation and your other weird/pervy obsessions.’)
To be fair, my mother is correct: I do enjoy gathering such info. And while I think of my interest more as “ways human beings throughout history have dealt with the sexual (and sexual-adjacent) aspects of their lives” than as purely “weird-a$$ sex sh!t”–it is the latter association, I suspect, that makes me the go-to person for friends forwarding links such as this, this, and even this. Three unrelated people all flagged this story for my attention.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in receiving such stories. I have long-running gags with friends on social media about the sexXy-pervy ranging from cryptozoological erotica to pubic hair grooming (although neither of these quite compares with the Annual Dissing of the Pumpkin Spice each fall). Beneath the laughter, however, there is real purpose to all my collecting. Which is simply this:
Bodies are funny and weird and human and divine. Sex is funny and weird and human and precious. Skip the funny and you miss the divine. Misinterpret the funny and you denigrate the precious.
My apologies in advance to the three or so of you who read this blog (hi! *waves*) for this redux interpretation of what I posted 5 days ago. I’m still working through the best way to articulate a difficult feeling–and in the process, hopefully to exorcise it.
And if anyone is so inclined, I recommend that when you read what follows, you read it aloud. I think it works much better aloud.
Happy Friday, y’all!
[UPDATE: Who’m I kidding? Nobody’s sitting in their room, reading blogs aloud. So I went ahead and read it aloud for ya! Check out audio file below.]
about masturbation and other words I am forbidden to say
It is undeniable. I am feeling better. I am feeling possible.
Many days I feel downright good Save that one rotten spot in the back left corner of my brain
That I keep prodding like a bruise to see if it still hurts.
It still hurts. And I still don’t want to know that.
No. I want to know how I feel possible and not get distracted by how
As the animal reasserts itself in health
I find myself hungry again for things I still cannot have. Continue reading “And now for some (poetic) repetition!”→
A few months ago, I talked to my therapist about it.
I apologized first.
“I want to talk about masturbation,” I said and apologized again.
She assured me she would listen to whatever I wanted to say. That I could talk without concern for her well-being. We sometimes take turns reminding me that she can take care of herself in our conversations.
As I described the paroxysm of grief that had overwhelmed me the night before–how the gasp of orgasm had become a wail of sorrow, how sobbing overtook me and did not let go for a full half-hour–it occurred to me that she might not understand the particular shame I was apologizing for.
“I’m not ashamed to tell you I masturbate,” I said, head cocked to one side and eyes focused on her intently. “I mean, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I always assume most adults are the same.”
She cocked her head back at me and waited.
“I’m not talking about this like, ‘well, everybody masturbates,’ or a joke the way TV shows run laugh tracks when the guy pulls a vibrator out of the woman’s drawer. And not ironic or academic, either. Not like reading a study on whether lesbians prefer their dildos realistically phallic-shaped or not.”
I paused, then continued in a voice so quiet she had to lean forward to hear me.
“I’m saying it matters to me. I’m saying I do it because I like it, and I like that I like it. I like that it matters to me.
“And I care that I am now frightened of what happens in my head when I do.”
My therapist nodded slowly as she took my words in.