Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee shares her masturbation story for Masturbation Month in May.
I first masturbated when I was four or five years old. It was definitely before I entered primary school and so this is how I remembered when it happened.
My sister, who is one year younger, was the one who taught me how to masturbate. So if I was five, she was four. If I was four, she was three.
My sister came to me, and she said in Mandarin (paraphrasing from memory): "Hey Sis, I know if you did something you'd feel good."
I asked: "What?"
She revealed: "If you take the bolster (a long pillow), you put it between your legs, and squeeze your thighs, and kind-of snake your legs around the bolster, and lock them in your ankles. Next you squeeze really hard, and then you rub your privates (she really meant clitoris) against the bolster. You have to rub really hard. You will feel good at some point."
I was like... "What are you talking about?"
I tried it, and I didn't feel anything besides pain in my ankles and frustrated. I went back to her: "You must be lying. Nothing happened. You show me!"
My sister demonstrated the moves to me.
I admitted, "That's what I did. I still didn't feel anything!"
My sister ordered: "No, no, no. You don't give up. Just keep trying. Even when you're tired, you just keep going."
As a kid, the thought of even giving up was not an option because if my sister could figure out something, then surely I could too because I'm one year older than her. There was definitely a competitive element going on as kid.
I went back to my room (and bolster) kept trying and trying until I did feel something good. I experienced my first orgasm.
I didn't know it was called the orgasm. I didn't know what we were doing was masturbation. I didn't know we were rubbing on the clitoris. I did not know any of these terms. But I knew it felt good.
After some weeks, I began to become curious, even a tad worried, if what we were doing was dangerous because after all, I was still a kid. I don't know what are this heart-beating and this flushing of blood within my body was good for me. I decided to ask my mom.
I planned it so I caught her at the right time. She was lying on the sofa watching TV, and then I lay on the floor next to her. She was just above me.
I asked her during a commercial break: "Hey mom. I want to show you something my sister taught me. I don't know how to explain it. I need to show it to you."
She nodded and I proceeded to demonstrate our unique masturbation technique to my mom.
To her credit, she said, "Oh that. It's okay. It's normal."
Because of that one sentence, I felt relieved that it's okay to feel pleasure and to continue masturbating.
She didn't smack me on the head. She didn't tell me to stop because I think if she had, I probably would have not knowing any better.
I'm sharing this story even though it is very personal because I want to help normalize masturbation. I don't want you to think that because I've been masturbating since I was four or five, I'm over sexualized, and that's why I became a sexologist.
No, I have just as little or as much sex education than a lot of my clients. The saving grace was that I caught up in the last seven years of my life, running my practice for the last five, and then having my training, the last two.
Masturbation has helped me to be a more empowered person even when I had no names for the act, no names for my body parts.
Learning about our bodies is a good thing and that our sexuality is ours. The more comfortable we are with our bodies and with our sexuality, the better it is for us to start from in learning how to in turn express and then share it with our partners later on.
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Dr Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com.
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This article was originally published at Eros Coaching. Reprinted with permission from the author.