By Manik Rege
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Congratulations on turning 15. And welcome to hell, I mean, puberty.
I personally consider myself your parent as much as Mom and Dad do. And so, I believe it’s my duty to talk to you about certain sensitive topics which every parent should openly discuss with his/her growing kids.
Surely, Mom and your teachers at school have explained all about how and why your body is going to turn into a nuclear power plant, set to explode every single month for the rest of your life.
On the basis of that assumption, I’ll skip to a more sensitive topic that is often ignored or held back during the discussions on sexual health.
I’m here to talk to you about masturbation.
Please don’t react like you’re hearing the word for the first time in your life. You and your friends have surely talked, gossiped and laughed about it at school.
You’ve most probably been fed the wrong information in a format and language so filthy, it must make you cringe at the thought of touching yourself even when your mind secretly wants to explore more on what it really means.
Now before you freak out, I assure you that I don’t want to make you feel awkward or uncomfortable in any way.
I’m not here to conduct a sex education class. I totally respect your private space- which is exactly why I’m writing this letter- to let you know that I trust you, and I’ll always be here for you whenever you need my friendship or support.
I’m simply here to tell you that you’re not alone.
I was in the same situation 5 years ago- with thousands of questions bubbling inside my mind. But unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to answer them and make me understand in the right way, so it took quite some time for me to figure stuff out on my own.
I don’t want you to go through the same confusion…which is why I’m here to tell you- IT’S OKAY.
It’s okay to want to touch yourself and it’s okay to have weird fetishes and crazy dreams. In fact, masturbation is not only okay but also great for your health and well-being.
It gives you a chance to explore your body, understand your needs and know exactly what hurts you and what turns you on.
It gives you power over your body; it makes you your own happy boss. Maybe, that’s why masturbation, and specifically female masturbation, is still such a big taboo.
The realization that a woman, too, has certain desires and she can fulfill them without your permission, or your dick, strikes an unsettling chord in a society that has dis-empowered and objectified your gender since the beginning of time.
That’s the essence of the stigma of self-pleasure- it’s often, if not always, partial to us men. I mean, if boys do it, it’s just a part of the natural cycle they can’t control, but if a girl does it, it’s considered immoral, irreligious and filthy in every sense of the word.
Well, if that’s the case, and if masturbation is really so ‘unethical’ that an author had to describe it as ‘the path to Satan,’ I suggest you should waltz your way to hell if that’s where your happiness leads you, and I’ll tell you why it’s totally worth the ‘punishment’ you might receive.
First of all, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do or not do it, so it’s completely up to you. It’s your personal choice and human right. It’s completely free and safe. So unless you get addicted to it or let it intrude your work, it cannot possibly bring you any harm or pain.
Secondly, it helps you keep your relationships alive, because you can now let your partner know about your needs, and what he/she can do to satisfy them.
Lastly, unlike the situation 50 years ago, there’s an infinite number of books, articles and videos you can refer to for knowing how you can make the most of your ‘alone time.‘
In fact, there’s also an actual app that guides you through the ‘game.’ What a time to be alive, eh?
My point is that there’s a great library of resources you can access to know more about the topic. All you have to do is open up and be bold enough to ask questions whenever and wherever they arise.
I say that because contrary to the popular belief among adults, I personally believe there is no ‘right time and place’ to share certain facts, especially in today’s era where kids already have access to all the information in the world, thanks to the internet.
If we adults don’t share the real facts with you kids when you ask for them, you’ll gladly forward your queries to your friends and get them answered anyways. Only this time, instead of getting the proper knowledge, you’ll be thrashed with all kinds of stupid stuff that may even scar some kids for life.
On that note, little sister, I have a small request for when you become a parent one day- Please don’t avoid your children and their questions. I want you to be there for your kids when they need you as a friend.
Don’t run away from your responsibility towards your kids with the stupid excuse, “They’ll find out when they have to.” I agree that they might find out for themselves, and they might gain all the knowledge in the world. But by the time they grow up, they will have lost their trust and faith in you.
If you can’t handle their questions and confusions now, you’ll also lose the right to shout at them when they make mistakes in the future.
The world has become so fast that you can’t wait for your kid to turn 18, and then sit him down on a sofa to give the long awkward talk on ‘girls/boys.’
You’ll only discover that your kid has already been stuffed with myths and misconceptions long before you can accept that his tiny brain even had room to accommodate them.
So answer those questions NOW- as and when they pop up. And appreciate your child’s curiosity rather than dismissing it. Cultivate the thirst for good knowledge, rather than suppressing the inquisitiveness which is simply a natural side-effect of growing up.
With that promise of being a friendly guide to your younger generation, I ask you, dear Isha, to not feel ashamed or afraid to bombard all the adults in the house with your questions and queries.
You have the right to know about how our bodies work, and as adults, it is our duty to give you the information you demand in the right way, regardless of the time and place of your queries.
My last piece of advice as a young human being who has the same needs as you do, is that you should never feel guilty about putting your needs before everything else- because there’s nothing bad in wanting to feel happy and good about yourself- because you’re doing nothing wrong and because even if you make mistakes, there is someone who will always trust you, respect your space, and understand what you can’t express in words.
I promised Mom I’ll be the friend she and Dad can never be for you. So, I’ll say this again, and I’ll keep saying it until it gets fixed in your head- You, my dear sister, are never alone.
You have my complete trust and you can be 100% sure that I’ll sincerely accept and appreciate all the decisions you take.
So…relax, dim the lights, google up Chris Hemsworth (or Cameron Diaz) and let your hormones take you on the craziest ride of your life.
Happy Play Time, my dear lady!
- Happy Play Time App (for growing ladies)
- Sex Chat with Pappu and Papa (sex.ed campaign by Durex)
- Talking to Kids about Sex
- Masturbation Guide, WebMd
Research Sources (used in this post)
Jerrold S. Greenberg and Francis X. Archambault (1973). Masturbation, self‐esteem and other variables, The Journal of Sex Research, 9:1, 41-51, DOI: 10.1080/00224497309550777
Laufer, M E (1982). Female masturbation in adolescence and the development of the relationship to the body, The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (Jan 1, 1982): 295.
Robert Darby (2003). The Masturbation Taboo and Rise of Routine Male Circumsision: A Review of Historiography, Jounal of Social History, Volume 36, Number 3, Spring ’03
Author’s Note: Thanks to Chinmayee, Jyeshtha Vartak and Surya Nair for their valuable inputs