I Found My Dad's Porn Stash When I Was 12

I Found My Dad's Porn Stash When I Was 12

I Found My Dad's Porn Stash When I Was 12

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This 12-year-old found her dad's secret porn stash; what to do if your little one finds yours.

When I was 12, I found my dad's porno stash in the fifth and sixth drawers of the red Craftsmen tool cabinet in the far-left corner of his workshop, next to the drill press in our garage. Assorted magazines bulged in pistachio-colored freezer bags, the kind my mother brought home from the supermarket stuffed with ice cream sandwiches and frozen fish sticks.

On the cover of one magazine the size of TV Guide a redheaded woman in a black leather vest and studded beret crouched holding a billy club. She didn't have on any pants and she looked angry, as if she wanted to punish the person who ran off with them. I sat on the cool concrete floor among wood scraps and soft yellow piles of sawdust and studied each page. I felt dizzy and my pulse thumped throughout my body. By the time I put the magazine back where I had found it and left the garage, I was hooked.

I wanted to hate what I saw because it seemed like an insult to my mother. Why did my father need to look at other women? Still, another part of me didn't hate it at all. The images and stories held my attention. I was fascinated. I had no idea

 

What sickened me though was the understanding that my father, despite weighing almost 400 pounds, had impulses. Up until then I tried hard not to think of my parents' privates. I had convinced myself that their genitalia wasn't really genitalia at all but rather a hairless, nondescript area like the vague sex parts on Ken and Barbie. But now my father's penis—what I imagined it looked like—filled my head and there it stayed: massive. Jesus. Not only did my father have a dick, but he used it for things other than peeing! What Am I Going To Tell My Son About S-E-X?

Did my mother know this? Had she ever wondered where all of her freezer bags disappeared to?

That summer I began sneaking copies of magazines like Penthouse and Family Affair—a publication about incest that thrilled me because it was so shocking—into my bedroom and cramming them under my mattress. I'd sprawl on the high, pine bed that my father had made for me, my chubby, freckled legs spread. My world had become an X-rated version of the Princess and the Pea, and masturbation became the next best thing to Dairy Queen. I was a pedophile's wet dream.

My mother was experiencing menopausal hot flashes at the time and would yell for me from the bottom of the stairs. "ELIZABEEEEEEEEETH!" she'd call out in her Edith Bunker voice. "It's like an oven up there! Come downstairs! It's cooooooooooler!"

It would be at the height of the day and my room would be hot white and blazing, but it was where I wanted to be. "I'm fine!" I'd yell back, annoyed at the interruption on my careful rhythm.

My mother didn't believe me. I could feel her stalled presence at the bottom of the stairs. I couldn't possibly be okay. It was too damn hot to be okay!

"I want to be alone!" I'd holler, hoping to send her on her way. "I'm reading!"

I stayed in my bedroom for most of the summer with one hand moving between my legs. Had my Language Arts teacher known about my summer reading material she would have called the authorities. I had traded in Ranger Rick and the Weekly Reader for Barely Legal and Juggs.

Eventually, my fascination with porn turned into confusion and disgust. Growing up, my mom repeatedly told me that sex was a good thing. She used words like "beautiful" and "healthy" to describe it. "It's an expression of love!" she'd say. Hearing this always reassured me, especially when I grew older and started noticing men noticing me. From my mom's perspective, sex, when I was ready to have it, would be soft, loving, secure. But my father's magazines told a different story. In those pages, sex was hard, dark, and sometimes cruel. Over a decade later, I confided in my mom about finding my dad's hidden material. "That's just how men are, Liz." she said. 

In my early 20s, I went through a "pro-woman" phase. I studied feminist theory, read Andrea Dworkin, and got in heated debates with my then-boyfriend, who admitted to watching porn movies and going to strip clubs during college. I'd end up with my face in my hands, sobbing. I was dating my father.

The older I got and the more I figured out what love, sex, and having a relationship meant to me, the less pornography bothered me. Truth be told, I had really enjoyed it all those years ago because it had put me in touch with my body. Before I started looking at porn I never knew what a clitoris was and as a consequence had never had an orgasm before. Granted, much of what I saw was inappropriate; as a girl going through puberty I don't think I needed to read about orgies and bondage to enjoy my body! Maybe a steamy romance novel and a short lesson in female anatomy would have done the trick. My dad should have gone to great lengths to really hide his hardcore material and keep it his secret. (Note to self: Put hot pink dildo in better hiding place so my daughter doesn't find it.) My Son Found My "Special Toy"

I never mentioned finding the "stash" to my Dad—that would have been mortifying—but I suspect he knew something. In my teens, I constantly joked about sex at the dinner table, bringing up taboo subjects like incest, anal sex and bestiality. I'd even draw detailed pictures of our neighbors having group sex with their schnauzer, Effie. Because I was such a well-adjusted kid—personable, happy, lots of nice friends—my mom and sister simply chalked up my troubling artwork to a lively—and very weird—imagination.

My dad, however, would say, "You're mind is in the gutter!" and I'd think, what a hypocrite!

For sure, the porn left an imprint on me. More than anything, it impacted my sexual fantasies. I tend to think about crazy things in bed—scenarios that you'd read about or see in, well, a hardcore porn magazine! But then again, I've only compared notes with my sister, Diana, who didn't peruse my dad's stash. Maybe a lot of people get off on fringe fantasies, and Diana—with her ho-hum fantasies of seducing younger men (yawn) — is the real anomaly. 

In addition, in my pre-porn years, I was always weirdly curious about sex. In fifth grade, I used to pretend I was Mr. Kitty Kat, a suave, sweet-talking feline who always had an erection and wanted to have sex with my sister. I'd pounce on her in her bedroom and rub my head on her thighs, purring and talking about my feline boner. I'd also make believe that I was a deranged Mr. Cooter from Dukes of Hazards and pretend rape my sister on the floor. I have no idea where this stuff came from—or why I found it so entertaining. My sister and I would crack up probably because it was so outlandish—so far from anything that was in our everyday uneventful lives. If anything, the porn colored my already wild imagination. But it didn't turn me into a deviant. I've never been promiscuous, and my sex life has always been pretty straight. The wildest thing I've ever done in bed? Fantasize about extreme sex—sex that I'd never really have. Still, porn is made for adults, not children. Should Fantasies Be "PC"?

When I finally decided to become a writer in my late 20s, my first piece was about—you guessed it: sex. It was about the language of male masturbation, how euphemisms for "jerking off" are often violent (think: beating, spanking, flogging, and whacking). It was a smart piece, and I shopped it around to every magazine. Editors liked it, but no one wanted to publish it. Then I thought of Penthouse, my reading companion from long ago. They bought it immediately and paid me $800. I was thrilled. I just scored my first professional writing assignment.

Since then, I've written sex pieces for Hustler, Penthouse, Redbook, and Glamour. Each time one of these magazines buys a new article from me and I tell my parents, my mom congratulates me; my dad just laughs and says, "You're mind is still in the gutter!" (Like father, like daughter, I guess.)

In retrospect, I know my father meant me no harm. It's not like he planted his stash in my bathroom or book bag so that I'd find it. In his mind, his porn was for his eyes only. Only my young curious eyes fell upon it, too. Did it injure me in some way? I don't think so, but who knows?

According to Maureen Healy, a child development expert and author of 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids, "One-time and limited exposure to pornography usually doesn't have any persistent negative effects. Repeated exposure to pornography may have negative effects on children. Studies indicate that pre-teens and teens that continually search out pornographic websites have developed unhealthy attitudes towards sex."

I'm pretty sure my attitude toward sex never became unhealthy, but maybe that's because my mom gave me another perspective. Her early refrain that sex was beautiful and healthy seemed to temper the bizarre stories and crazy pictorials that I later stumbled upon. By far, her nourishing and well-meaning words left the greatest impact on me—more than all the wild and wacky stuff that I was never meant to see. Opinion: Sex Ed Is A Parent's Job

Don't be like my father; keep your porn in a truly safe and secure place—or else your kids will find it. If they do, here's what to say, according to Healy.

Age 3 – 5

  • These are adult magazines for grown-up eyes. They help adults understand their body in a healthy way.
  • The human body is beautiful and natural and these photos are showing the human body for adults to see and understand.
  • Photos like these are for adults and it is for adult play. I promise it will make more sense later in life

Age 5-8

  • You know there are all kinds of love—baby love, puppy love, friend love and grown-up love. That magazine you found was for grown ups to help them love themselves and others. 
  • Sometimes adults have things that are only for adults because it's natural and healthy for them but just weird at your age. This is one of those things. 
  • Magazines like that are for healthy adults to explore their bodies. It is a natural part of life. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense but when you are older, it will be clear. Now I realize it's weird and that's okay.  

Age 8-12

  • Sweetheart, I love you very much. Some of the things that I have in my room are just for adults. That magazine was for adults but is a healthy expression of adult sexual interest. Do you have any questions?
  • The human body is a work of art. I know you realize that adults sometimes put their bodies together. Magazines like the one you found show adults how to use their bodies in a natural, healthy way. It's also for adult eyes only.

Age 12 and Up

  • Thank you for telling me you found that magazine. Such magazines are really healthy and natural to look at once in awhile. Do you have any questions about it?
  • I appreciate you telling me you found that magazine. Its one of those natural things that Dad [or Mom] keeps to better understand the human body. I know your body is changing too.  Do you have any questions?
  • Thank you for giving this magazine to me. Adults like kids are curious and want to see things.  I wanted to see the human body in different ways. It's really just a natural and healthy way to learn about the body.
This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.