From the ages of 11 to 16, I went to a catholic high school. The first sex education lesson I remember we had was in year seven, however, it was a very outdated video of a heterosexual sex, about the science of it and was completely simple. It basically was a video explaining that “men had a penis, women have a vagina and if you put these two together, you make babies”. There was no mention of LGBT+, masturbation, sexual pleasure and the likes.
Then, my next sexual education classes came in around year 10 – we were told how to put a condom on and about STIs. However, I really do think that the STI lesson was to basically scare us into abstinence.
Those three lessons were my only form of sexual education that was given to me in school. Three very basic lessons in five years. It was simply not enough.
Most of my sexual education came from my own experiences and research. One of the biggest things I learnt is about female pleasure, something that had not been discussed at all, which made it feel taboo. I began watching pornography when I was about 13, and from what I saw, the majority of vaginas were presented to be ‘neat’ and ‘tucked away’ (these were the words I used when I saw these at 13!) and quite frankly, my vagina did not look like this at all. It looked completely different.
I remember lying awake panicking over how my vagina didn’t look like they do on porn stars, worrying that no boy would ever want to go near me or would laugh when they saw it (something as I’ve grown into a woman, I realised that I don’t need anyone to validate me or my body!) and just in a general state of anxiety over how my vagina was ‘not normal’. But it was and is.
Whilst I don’t feel the need to look for acceptance or validation from other people when it comes to my genitals anymore as I’ve grown, I can safely say, no one has ever rejected my vagina or made a negative comment – something I would literally lose sleep over in my younger years.
The truth of the matter is: all vaginas are different and that is OK! No vagina is ugly or weird, they are amazing. Love it. Care for it!
It also took a while for me to be comfortable in my own skin in general, but especially with my boobs. My boobs suddenly grew a lot in one year, which brought a lot of unwanted attention. I used to hide them all the time, and I must admit, sometimes I still feel like I should. It takes a pep talk to remind myself that my boobs don’t need to be hidden, I decide what to do with them. Also, I began to realise that my boobs were not symmetrical either. One is bigger than the other and I remember crying over that too. Especially because in some clothes and bikinis, it can be noticeable. I used to hate having my cleavage shown in some tops if it they didn’t look ‘even’ and especially in bikinis. It was a talk with my older cousin that told me that every person’s boobs are different and one boob being bigger than the other is normal.
Now, as a 22-year-old woman, I love my boobs. I love my shape, my size and it took a long time to get to this stage, but I did and I am so much happier for it!
In addition, I became involved in feminism in my first year at university, which taught me how patriarchy had made some women feel that they were not in control of their own sexuality and there was a shame attached to female sexuality. It was really the first steppingstone into me being able to realise that masturbation is healthy for people, and quite frankly, healthy!
Masturbation can be done in many ways and it is just down to preference and whatever the person masturbating feels comfortable with. Your own hands, sex toys, etc. It is completely natural, healthy and enjoyable if you feel comfortable doing so!
However, it is also completely okay if you don’t want to or do not like masturbating. You are completely in charge of your own sexuality.