While I like to think my parents are pretty open, they avoided the sex talk like the plague (they were practically gleeful when shuffling me off to 8th grade Sex-Ed to hear about the birds and the bees just so they wouldn’t have to do it.) And let me tell you, hearing the words “penis” and “vagina” from some old lady volunteering to teach the class because her husband died and she had nothing to do and therefore hadn’t even seen a penis in ages is the least effective way to learn about sex. I remember nothing about that class except the fact that boys get boners when riding buses and horses, and Ms. Jill’s hair looked like a cat curled up and committed suicide on top of her head. I also remember that masturbation was never discussed. This is a major problem with Sex-Ed classes (can someone please start a petition to rectify this?).
It’s a problem because not only did I grow up not knowing how to masturbate, but I grew up thinking it was for guys only. Despite these setbacks, I was still hormonal and curious and reading Twilight every night, which could only do so much for my needs (I once found a book in my mom’s underwear drawer that was a soft, romantic erotic novel specifically for middle-aged divorced women – exactly my mom’s demographic – and involved cowboys with calloused hands but tender hearts. I skipped to the sex sections and tried to block out the fact that my mom was getting turned on by the same stuff). So, I had these feelings but I didn’t know how to release them (this was before I had a personal computer and I sure wasn’t using the communal computer to google, “How to masturbate and can girls do it too oh my god am I a freak?”). Somehow, through trial and error, I figured out that if I lay on a rolled-up blanket at the right angle and kind of moved around, it felt good. Dear readers, this is the product of Sex-Ed classes failing to explain vibrators, lube, your talented fingers, and the magical clitoris. I blame Ms. Jill. I could’ve been under the covers happily masturbating like a healthy teen, but instead I was embarrassed, awkward, guilty, and humping a blanket.
And to make matters worse, my whole family discovered my secret. I have this distinct memory of my sister bringing her friends over to my room and telling them, in front of me, about what I did to blankets. Okay, I know how it sounds. I promise I wasn’t some sex-crazed maniac running around the house humping blankets in front of company. I was just bad at hearing footsteps approaching my closed door. And some people (my family) have no sense of privacy. It wasn’t until college that I learned how to actually masturbate (I distinctly remember calling my ex-boyfriend and shouting “I finally orgasmed after masturbation!” followed by him stifling laughter and saying, “You’re on speakerphone.”). I still feel guilty and embarrassed, and hide under the covers even though I’m alone (although this time I make sure to lock my door). And sometimes Ms. Jill’s face pops into my mind at exactly the wrong moment. But I’m slowly getting better at it…and I keep a blanket around for old time’s sake.