Self, Sex

I Found Out At Age 7 That My Mom Sold Sex Toys — And It Made Me Who I Am Today

Photo: Kiarra Sylvester
young girl in ballerina costume

I remember the first time I saw porn (in my stepdad's VCR and then a million times after).

I also I remember the first time I saw a vibrator.

I was 7.

I was infuriated, or in the hard-hitting words of parents everywhere I was "disappointed," by my mother's actions. Those "actions" being the audacity of her having left this atrocity lying around for me — her child — to find. Despite the fact that I choose to dig through her closet and then confront her (some balls, right?).

You would've thought souls were sold to the devil himself by the way I reacted, harshly judgmental.

But alas, mom's sex toy wasn't something she just forgot to put away back inside her nightstand after a solo sesh.

Instead, the vibrator was part of her "inventory," and my finding it was just a byproduct of her way of getting through college as a single parent.

And that "way" was frequent "passion parties" for her girlfriends in our tiny apartment while she sent me packing to my friends in the next apartment building over.

Upon confronting her, she remained as cool as ever and true to black parenting style: She told me to stay in the child's place and stop going through her closet.

While that might not seem like a defining moment it was, or a lesson at the very least.

Some parents make small things into big things when they react as such, she didn't. In fact, she gave absolutely no air to my accusations, and sometimes I think that's the just the best way. 

Now, looking back as my mom helps me set up my own sex toy business, I can't help but appreciate the accidental exposure I had to her inventory back then (although it was more so a result of my nosiness).

In a lot of ways, I think my finding out what my mother did has shaped my own passion toward sexual health. 

Being in an open environment where faux dicks weren't some deep dark secret and the "talk" wasn't always a super-awkward thing, is the reason I'm me.

It's the reason I'm writing to you about sex toys, the reason I decided my passion was sex, and the reason why I have set my sights on becoming set on being a "sexpert."

It's the reason I generally enjoy sex — and don't feel guilty or ashamed about enjoying it. 

Look, if we truly come out the womb with our personality already intact, I'm almost positive I've been in touch with my sexuality since entering the world in 1992. As a child, though, I think I may have been confused and maybe even afraid to feel or think what I thought was wrong.

My outrage at the vibrator discovery more than likely came from the stigma and shame I'd learned up until that point. Until I saw that vibrator, I didn't know a world where it was OK to have penises whipped out.

And, had my mom panicked and made it a big deal in the way that she did when I found my stepdad's porn stash (and I associated porn with dirtiness for a long time), that side of my personality may have never shined through. I likely would've gone on to think sex and masturbation were dirty too.

My attitude toward sex would've been drastically different than what it is today had my mother not simply told me to mind my own damn business and carried on like no big deal (because helicopter parenting is for the birds. Always has been, always will be). 

Being exposed to the unknown that is a closet full of vibrating penises all those years ago, well it peaked my curiosity somewhere in between pouting and snooping around and I've never looked back.