Coming of age

Do you think there are adverse effects to reading/talking to older people online or in person/looking at stuff online/etc at a young age? I was really curious about sexuality and all of that, and I started exploring that sort of thing online at a young age, and I was wondering what people thought about that. It sounds like a lot of people in here were in the same boat, but I was wondering if anyone knows anything about its long term effects. In film, movies with violence aren't given as strong of a rating on the G/PG/PG-13/etc scale as movies with sex in them. Do you think early exposure (I'm not talking about anything physical, obviously that would be bad, but just looking at stuff/being exposed to pictures, movies, or stories online or in books or magazines or whatever) is harmful? Do you think it could lead to unhealthy attitudes about sex, or sex addiction or whatever? I don't know much about psychology, let alone child/teen psychology, but I would be really interested in input from all of you thoughtful/knowledgeable people. Thanks!

Forums: 
Han-pan's picture

Postulant

Thoughtful, maybe. I'm pretty sure a lot of people don't talk about what they were looking at @ what age. But I was def looking at (mostly reading) sexual material at a very young age. Perhaps I'm not a good reference, seeing as what happened for a good three years, but I tend to think that doesn't affect me very much. I also watched some on TV when I was closer to high school (we had one of those nifty descramblers SHHH! lol. not anymore though) and I don't think it really made me have negative attitudes towards sex. For one, I was the most knowledgeable of my close peers, so the girls around me were really comfortable coming to me with questions, and if I could help them with that kind of stuff, rather than them going off and finding out on their own, I was more than happy with the consequences of mere knowledge Blum 3 I don't think it affected my desire for sexual interaction, because I didn't do anything remotely sexual with any boyfriends until the one I have right now, and have had for nearly five years. So in the lust department, yeah it made me curious as to what it was all about, but even with him, we didn't jump into that shtuff. We had been together for nearly a year when we did have sex, so obviously the knowledge/watching/reading I had done didn't make me overtly sexually hungry. If anything, it made me an interesting conversationalist when I got to college, a knowledge database for girls who needed information and didn't want to go to an adult, and comfortable with what it was all about when my own time came.

Though I will say, being exposed to it was very useful for my own knowledge, if only b/c my own parents NEVER breached the topic of sex with me. I had to learn somewhere >__>

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I'm more frightened by parents like Han-pan's, that never broach sexuality topics with their children (even in oblique or euphemistic or whatever ways) than I am by a pre-teen looking up a sexuality term online. No offense to your parents, Han-pan, since you obviously turned out okay anyway Wink

Knowledge of sexual terms and topics will happen or won't. Once puberty hits, sexual thinking will occur regardless of whether or not you have the words and details to give 'em vivid form ("hormones happen"). IMO, the most important thing is in the context in which you assimilate that knowledge. Knowing that a blow job and eating pussy are two gender-specific types of oral sex doesn't tell you that there's a time and a place for such things (between consenting peers and most of us here would probably add in some sort of caring relationship) and times and places where it is not appropriate (street corners or high school bathrooms or pre-teen bedrooms). I can't imagine my parents ever explaining to me what different sex acts are, or what BDSM or polyamory are, or anything like that, regardless of whether or not they approved of it. I would have absolutely died of embarrassment if they had! However, I'll never forget the only time my mother talked to me about unwed pregnancy. It was in high school and it came up indirectly, probably because of something in the news or in our local social circle about a teen girl getting pregnant. All she said was if it happened to me, she would be very very upset at first and then she'd get over it and help me out. Another example - she always took me new clothes shopping for birthdays or Christmas and had fun helping me pick out things that she or I thought would look good on me, but frowned and discouraged me from picking out anything that went beyond "snug fitting" into slutty territory. So I experienced approval for looking good and disapproval for looking desperate.

Instruction like this, that I'm sure (I hope!) most of us experienced growing up from parents or similar respect-worthy adult authorities, provide the appropriate mental context so that it didn't matter if I started having uninformed sexual fantasies at age 10 or 11 and was reading R-rated scifi by age 12 and X-rated stuff soon after. I had already absorbed the mindset that sexy things belonged to committed grown-up relationship, regardless of whether the specific sexy thing was slutty clothes, racy lingerie, blow jobs, or BDSM play. Simple as that.

Okay, I think all that rambling can be boiled down to: details of sexual knowledge and age when you begin to acquire it have minimal impact on your develop compared to the combination of how you're raised (parental guidance/education) and your innate level of maturity.

Han-pan's picture

Postulant

Well, in most ways I've turned out okay Blum 3 I never got no-sex, no-drugs, no-smoking, no-nothing talks from my parents, and anytime I did ask a question, the answer was always "I don't know" or "I don't remember". In consequence, I don't trust my parents. At all. And that's really sad, you know? I'm 20 years old and I can't trust the people who gave birth to me and raised me because of a whole buncha stuff besides what I just mentioned. I mean, I really wish I could. But I just cant. And every time I try, they prove me wrong. So....Idunno. I guess it was a consequence of their child raising tactics, but that really has nothing to do with this topic anymore Smile

MsGamgee's picture

Embodiment

I got the talk at the age of 5, when I heard the word "sex" on television and asked my mom what it meant. She sighed and gave me the general idea, and I think my main response was "... You did that with DAD? EW." So I pretty much understood the concept from an early age, and there was definitely open discussion on different aspects of sexuality and different types of relationships if I ever desired it. If I'd asked, I'm sure my mother would have been willing to discuss fetishes and etc, but I was never comfortable enough to do so, so I did my own research as I matured.

My own relationship with sex came later, of course, but I developed my interest around the age of 13. This doesn't mean that I HAD sex early; as mentioned in an earlier thread, I didn't lose my virginity until a couple months before my 18th birthday. However, I spent a good deal of time becoming familiar with my feelings, my body, my ideas towards sex and sexuality and relationships, and I think that did nothing but good for me. I think my confidence, the relative functionality of my relationships, and my comfort with what I want and need comes directly from those 5-ish years of figuring it out, both on my own and with a boy and girl or two. I'm going to admit, though; this was work on my own. It wasn't really me asking friends, because they didn't know either, and it wasn't just from movies or tv, though that was often what introduced the unfamiliar terms to me; I spent a good deal of time on the internet, and even at 13 I knew the difference between what was going to be porn and what would be actual information. I think my main qualifier was if the site called it "vagina" or not; any other terminology was a warning sign. Blum 3 The thing I most vividly remember is looking up female masturbation. I understood how orgasms worked for men, vaguely (penises get happy, stuff comes out, guys are happy?) but I had NO clue what a woman would even do or feel. I took what I read and thought about it and, well... the world changed forever, ha!

When I finally decided that I was ready for sex, I really believe that I was; I understood the consequences both emotionally and physically, and I approached it in a mature, developed way. I love the way I figured things out, and I wouldn't trade it for the world; however, the way I did it might not work for everybody. I don't lament having a person as a guide, however. I feel like if I'd had an actual person, I may have come away with their preconceptions instead of building on my own blank state, and though you get that to an extent with any parental interaction, I like the feeling that most of my feelings on sex came from me. Smile

Moo's picture

This stuff interests me so damn much, you have no freakin' idea. Mainly because I was the opposite... Sad to say, I literally had no idea why sex was considered "fun" until I met my current boyfriend... Poor guy had one hell of a time convincing me that it was not the taboo, scary thing I thought it was.

As far as I'm aware, no, there's nothing particularly harmful, unless the information you get is promoting harmful acts (for example, watching porn that simulates rape). Your sexual preferences are hard-wired in your brain, which is why the idea of reforming pedophiles or necrophiliacs is not feasible. From the time you're little, you are going to like/be turned on by whatever you will like as an adult. The only difference is that your sexual development is kind of on pause from about age 6 to age 12. This is why little kids, like 4 year olds, will kiss other 4 year olds, but 10 year olds think that "boys have cooties." This goes for homo/heterosexuality. It's all determined by hormone production, which in turn is dictated by the brain.

So basically, if you're watching and just absorbing sexual material, all it's going to do is teach you about what happens, and show you what you're interested in. The worst that can happen (again, I'm talking regular porn, not pedophiliac/rape-tastic porn) is that you'll have porn-level expectations. In fact, the most interesting statistic I've seen is that the majority (can't remember exact number) of kids who take abstinence pledges and are not exposed to sexual material end up doing everything BUT penis-in-vagina sex, and wind up with a whole lot of STDs. They also, on average, end up having P-I-V sex only about a year after their peers.

But see, someone like me, who never took an abstinence only pledge, but was forced to miss every single class period about sex? Yeah, I was 18 and had no idea about sex. I was so, so, so glad that my boy had been watching porn since he was 12, because he had also read up about birth control when he was 14, as he was able to connect the dots between sex and babies. Me? I knew sex led to babies, but I had no idea how to use a condom, because I never thought I'd want to have sex.

I also like the idea that I discovered my sexual preferences with my partner, but I also know that these were always going to be my preferences, regardless, and that my sexual compatibility with any partner would not be determined by watching porn at 10 or 12 years old or not doing so. My brain formulated those preferences during my first 6 years of life, then went dormant until, in my case, 18. I'm so totally a late social and physical bloomer in all aspects.

EDIT:

And yes, I knew the technical aspects of sex, I just... never understood why. It's like I was stuck in that 6-year-old's mentality for way too long. I never even kissed a guy until I was 18. Such a late bloomer...

Sora's picture

I never even kissed a guy until I was 18. Such a late bloomer...

Ha, I'm barely 20 and haven't been kissed. Wink

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I was a woman's first kiss when she was...23 I think? 24?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I got a "pity kiss" at a party when I was 18 when it was revealed I was the only person there who had never been kissed. Guy grabbed me and laid one on me before I knew what was happening. He was a sweetheart and I'll never forget him. (No, we never went out or anything, just the one quick smack.)

Pedes's picture

Postulant

I kissed first at 22. Which was partly due to misunderstanding in my first relationship... that I don't want to talk about XD
Next time I find the right person, whichever gender, I'm taking initiative; at least with kissing Wink

(Come to it I've never kissed a man yet 0o).

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

How hard-wired do you think they are? This is in part a more general nurture/nature question, really, and I think that everything is an interplay of genetics and environment.

I have thought that perhaps the catalyst for my love of pain and domination and blood during sex comes from the bloody, painful loss of my virginity by a man who, at least emotionally, controlled me, and was definitely the in-power person in the 'relationship'. I enjoyed my experience and time with him. I can't help think that somehow 'set the standard' for my perceptions of sex (and relationships as well). But do you think there are other, stronger reasons - genetic, prenatal, etc - for why I am the way I am? Was I destined to be a masochist from birth?

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... than we think, would be my guess. I don't know about the "from birth" thing - there seems to be sufficiently large nurture component to the whole thing that genetics + prenatal nurture seems to me to be insufficient to explain it all conclusively. In that vein, I think it possible that your previous relationship was indeed the catalyst for the way you are now, but not the cause which, as far as I know, is bound to be a mix mostly of genetic, prenatal and early-childhood influences. So, I'd say that yes, you were "destined" to be a masochist, as far as your proclivities go, while the way you're acting out those proclivities is at least in part shaped by previous experiences

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

Even if some of it is hard-wired, your experiences have to affect who you are...otherwise we wouldn't be able to learn. I think that has to apply sexually as well. I know some people that get really turned on by shame, and they were very sexually repressed by their parents. Other people really like older men, and they never felt like their fathers loved them. I'm not saying it's true for everyone, but I think it must be at least partially true for some people (and I feel like it's true for me).

ereuyi's picture

Ehh, I was 19. Totally teased the guy until he kissed me because I was too nervous to do it myself.

Sara's picture

I think that the fact that you are even asking this question is an indicator of your personal maturity level and a sure sign that early exposure will NOT mess you up for life Wink Really, the most important thing to understand on the internet when talking to strangers is when you're having an intellectual discussion versus when you are being taken advantage of. If you are talking about the how and why and when, etc, you're having a conversation, if your chatting buddy asks if they can touch themselves or starts asking you what you look like, that is a no-no unless you are in to it to (but if you are under 18, it is illegal and if at any point it makes you uncomfortable, END the conversation)

I was pretty much raised watching MTV back when it was really in to sex awareness (early 90's) so I basically had the message of safe sex drilled in to me early on. Like those before me have said, its all a matter of context. If the only way you're going to learn without putting yourself in a compromising position is to surf the internet, by all means do it, that is what its there for. (*Is suddenly struck with the song "The internet is for porn!"*) If you are asking about watching porn, go for it. If you are reading up on anatomy and safe sex and STD's and other details, go for it. Just remember that there is more to sex than meets the eye and that you shouldn't do anything you don't want to do and definitely shouldn't have sex until you are ready and you're sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

I started educating myself when I was very young, but even though I was sexually frustrated through most of my adolescence, I didn't have sex until I was in a healthy, stable relationship and the decision was reached mutually. We were both 18 and virgins and used protection.

Long story short, watching/discussing/learning about sex at a young age is not going to mess you up for life, but be smart and don't jump in to it because it looks like fun. }:)

Sara's picture

*PS sex in movies is only rated harsher because we have a sexually repressed and backwards society who thinks there is more evil in a natural physical expression of love and/or lust than in mass murder.

there are plenty of societies where people live in communal rooms and grow up watching their family members doing the nasty. Also, there are countries where some commercials show more sex and nudity than an R rated movie in the states

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

This Film Is Not Yet Rated? It's a great movie, and it talks a lot about that.

Starrysky's picture

I grew up in a straight lace town with Christian vaules, so sex was not talked about. My mother gave me and speel and then gave my brothers a different verison. It was just done that way where and when I grew up. My father gave my brothers a speech, but not me. Well expect that any boy that ever made me feel uncomfortable I was to report him to my dad and my father and brothers when they were older would "handle" them. I think my father and I would have been too embaressed and uncomfortable to talk about sex.

We grew up on a farm also, so that helped some of the sex talks.

My brothers and I were never told sex was bad or dirty, but natural. On the other hand, we were told it was only what adults did. Before we hit puberty, we got the talk on protection and what worked and what didn't. Also about pregnancy and teenage pregnancy. Also about AIDS and other sexual transmitted dieases.

We were not allowed to watch anything with sex in movies or TV. We did what every kid did during that time, which was sneek downstairs while the parents were asleep and watch TV we weren't supposed to. My brothers would steal my father's playboys and hide them, then I would get curious when I heard my brothers talk about it and would sneek a peek.

My brothers and I were in high school around the same time. The biggest deturrent for me not to have sex was listening to the boys talk about sex and about the girls I knew who they did things with. The talk was so bad that it made me not want to even date. I had several choice words for my brothers and how they demeaned women with their words after those talks.

It was all these factors that made me wait until I was ready and made me not give into peer pressure.

The first event that really hit home that my values were different from others and that I was raised differently was my first roommate. I would get back to room to study and she was on an internet site with a sex chat room. She'd be chatting online with several guys while on the phone having phone sex with her boyfriend.

I was so stunned at first, I didn't say anything. After she got off the phone with her boyfriend, she bragged to me about how she is stringing these guys along and how her boyfriend didn't know she had had several online boyfriends.

I was horrorified. We have a blowout arguement, which in hind-sight I was a high hand bitch, but in the end, we decided that I would put on head phones and listen to music so I would have to hear her conversations. Unless she wanted my honest opinion -I was not a good listener back then-, she wouldn't talk to me about treating men badly.

Anyways, I always think it depends on the situation, the age, and culture when to talk to kids about sex. I think some knowledge is better than nothing. The only thing I wish that my parents did differently was that I got the same talk as my brothers did. After all, I got my brothers to tell me everything in the end.

Han-pan's picture

Postulant

Uh, I think most people would find what your roommate was doing to be pretty horrifying; from what I understand of polyamoury, it's a very open situation with all people involved, so "stringing boys along" isn't a positive or productive relational state.

Don't feel bad that you felt off about it o.O

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I read, caught the internet in middle school...the whole nine.

I was...pretty well book-informed by middle-school--both due to a good public school system (human growth and reproduction unit in 5th grade, more sex-ed stuff in 7th, 8th, and H.S. Health coursework). My mom is a nurse--she said I could ask any questions I had...

I did that once...

10-year-old-TheBoy: "mommy, what's a blowjob?"
Mother: "well, what did you hear that it is?"
clinical explanation follows (what goes where, not terribly detailed--and certainly no discussion of technique)
Boy: *mortified*

I think I turned out fairly normal, if a little sexually conservative (as to theories on the ideal number of partners &c., at least for me).

greatmediocrity's picture

Devotee

If only more kids were like that.

I feel pretty strongly that if violence were the taboo and nudity were commonplace, the world would be a much better place to be. I don't ever plan on having kids, but if I do, more than likely through adoption, I plan to make a serious effort to bring them up that way.

For the record, no, I am not a nudist (naturalist for our European friends) in any traditional sense; I don't cavort nude around the house or in my garden, I don't go to nude beaches (difficult when you don't live near one anyway), and I don't go to camps. I just don't see any good reason to be ashamed of our naughty bits.

Beebalm's picture

Hmm, I don't think there should be any problem. Then again, my mom (in order to give me more knowledge than her mother gave her) gave me two books on puberty when I was around 10. Now, those two progressive books talked about masturbation and stuff. Granted my mom didn't brief me on that part of the book. Wink

And we don't want to talk about the book that I found years later that my parents used to educate me when my baby brother happened. I was two at the time, so I don't have memories of that talk.

The only issue is that the US government has gotten so uptight that it's prosecuting a man for owning manga that depicts characters that "appears to be " a minor engaging in sex. (see http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000372.shtml for more details.) The issue of under 18 people discussing sex with over 18 people is a sticky subject in the US. Other countries too, because Australia's also having issues about the Simpsons, but I can't find that link quickly.

Besides which, remember that this whole business about not being an adult until you are 18 is a recent development and a Western development. People used to have families and their own households at very tender ages by our standards. Besides which, people obsessed about sex long before there was an internet and the ease of other people to talk to. (gods I'm old) I mean there is a very strong hormonal drive in the pre-teens and teen years. There wouldn't be all this taboo around sex if people naturally avoided it.

And a final thought, how can you have a healthy view of sex, if you're paranoid about even thinking about it? Shrug

Nancy's picture

Personally, I think that as soon as someone starts asking questions or becoming interested in the topic, they're ready to understand the issues and consequences involved. I also strongly disagree with abstinence-only sex education, as that just means the kids won't be educated enough to protect themselves when they do decide to have sex! As for myself, I became interested in sex and how our reproductive systems work just before I hit puberty, and I'm glad that I had books and internet there to help me educate myself on it! I've only had one partner, and we're getting married next fall, so I guess I'm a little out of the ordinary, but it just goes to show that early exposure doesn't necessarily lead to promiscuity or overly sexual behavior. And I cannot stress enough that when a child starts to become curious about a topic, they are usually ready to handle the information, and dumbing it down or telling them that it's something that only adults can do, or that it's bad can really hurt them.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

Do you think there are adverse effects to reading/talking to older people online or in person/looking at stuff online/etc at a young age?

Nope. Absolutely not. Of course, anything really extreme (rape, snuff, etc.) might give you nightmares, but other than that? Nope, no developmental dangers or anything.

In film, movies with violence aren't given as strong of a rating on the G/PG/PG-13/etc scale as movies with sex in them. Do you think early exposure (I'm not talking about anything physical, obviously that would be bad, but just looking at stuff/being exposed to pictures, movies, or stories online or in books or magazines or whatever) is harmful? Do you think it could lead to unhealthy attitudes about sex, or sex addiction or whatever?

The roles of violence and sex are pretty much reversed in Germany (and, I believe, much of Western Europe) compared to the US. We also tend to have a far smaller teenage pregnancy problem (with the notable exception of the UK, which is, in this as in many other things, closer to the US than most other European countries) and homicide rate, so make of that what you will. Wink (And no, I'm not suggesting a monocausal relationship between the two.)

And as for the obvious badness of physical exposure to sex at a young age, it is not obvious to me at all. People all over the world (used to) grow up under conditions where they witness animals or other human beings having sex, multiple times, and don't turn out to be serial rapists or erotomaniacs in the end. Heck, it is not even really all that clear that actually having sex at a young age, provided the child him- or herself doesn't perceive anything bad/forced/violent about it (either during or any time after the act), has any lasting negative influence beyond the one that lies in breaking a huge societal taboo and the stuff that comes with that. And no, just to nip that particular discussion in the bud, I'm not defending pedophiles or anything, all I'm saying is that the scientific evidence supporting that particular social taboo, like the evidence for many other such taboos either past or present (or probably future), is pretty darn slim and murky.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I would argue that, if nothing else, children are far less prepared to deal with the consequences of sex - pregnancy, disease, relationship issues, self-knowledge, self-confidence, navigating complex social taboos. The actual physical stimulus of sexual pleasure/arousal, of course, isn't likely to hurt them. It's the difference between masturbation and a sexual relationship - maturity is required for the second but not the first. And while age isn't a *perfect* predictor of maturity, it's a pretty good correlation, especially in the young ages of 8-15.

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

For me, I partially believe it depends on what a child is mature enough for and partially depends on the quality of the information they can look up. The more educational and honest the information is, the more helpful, especially to girls. I remember reading that girls who know more about sex are much more likely NOT to have sex young and instead wait until they're ready.

I think every person needs to develop a sense of self-monitoring. I believe every person has limits as to the information they allow themselves to explore. Me, being a sensitive person, I now avoid reading about horror or torture or other things that cause me great distress. Yes, one has to encounter these limits to identify them, but if a person is mature enough to self-monitor and cope with the information they are interested in looking up, then they'll be perfectly normal and fine. In the case of sex, they'll probably be much better off, especially if the information from those around them is less than satisfactory. In other words, sexual addiction and perversion are somewhat unlikely, because in most situations, there are natural defense mechanisms (psychologically) that prevent a person from really damaging themselves with unwanted information. Yes, information has an allure, but our brains are also not friendly towards things that really do shock and disturb us personally. We find a way to label it as an aberration, or a lie or whatever.

This also reminds me of a "horror story" that was going around my little brother's high school friends, involving the evils of masturbating in one's swimming pool. The boy in the story somehow got his intestines ripped out through his anus by the pool's drain (?) as a punishment for his carnal delights, and got his little sister pregnant because he went to the hospital before he could capture those sperm globules. Vivid, yes. But because I, an enlightened college student, knew that sperm dies rapidly if not ejaculated directly into the slightly less hostile vaginal environment, I could question this entire story and tell him it was an urban myth. Swimming pools would not be given that much suction, no, you cannot get people pregnant by cumming in a pool, and how could they have left the pool uncleaned before his little sister swam in the pool after his accident anyway? It's better to be knowledgable, to find a safe way to answer the questions you need to know!

Same thing with death, btw! I, for a long time, resented my mother for not allowing me to see my uncle in his coffin when I was a preteen. I expressed strong desire to do so, it was important to me, but she couldn't handle it, so I couldn't handle it. This is a case of protection becoming negative. =/ I still sort of regret that.

I really appreciated the Developmental Psychology perspective above! I was under the impression that there are some competing theories about the flexibility of sexuality (within limits, sexual preferences may be learned and/or cultural) and the so called sexual developmental stages, but it was good stuff.

I'm biased because I discovered masturbation at 4 or 5ish. ^_^;

Saramander's picture

Petitioner

The pool story was in a Chuck Pahlanhiuk book. The suction issue, I've heard, actually CAN cause problems, but I have serious doubts that sperm could survive the chlorine in a swimming pool, especially for the more than 48 hours that the story claims.

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

How? What kind of problems? How could that happen without your body seriously warning you that damage was being done?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Chuck is a writer here in Portland. We're not acquainted, but we're a handshake away several different ways.

Nye's picture

Supplicant

my parents didn't cover much, and what was covered was "DON'T, for God's sake, DON'T!" Actually, that was my mother. My father never said anything at all. The sex talk was "You know where babies come from, right?" when I was in my early teens. I wasn't allowed to watch TV like The Golden Girls or Dynasty because unmarried people had sex. Kissing was barely tolerated. I didn't see many movies, either. On the other hand, I was allowed to watch as much violence as I wanted. I could stay up late for A-Team, murder mysteries and any number of things blowing up. As soon as Kevin on Mr. Belvedere plotted to bed his sort-of girlfriend (even if it didn't work out), I was sent of to bed. I saw a couple pornographic images when I was rather young. I brief glimpse of a movie... a few pages of a cheap porn magazine. The context of those bothered me more than what I saw... the people around me... more than the "traumatizing images."

But I was a bright, curious kid. I also had a very intuitive idea of the way things worked from a very young age. I'm convinced my daydreams from age 8 and up would make damn good porno flicks, even now. I was never abused, and that point didn't even know why the parts worked that way... insert tab A into slot B just made for really interesting mental vacations. And I did interesting things with my Barbies, too. It was about all they were good for.

I started by looking things up in a dictionary, oh anywhere between 10 and 12 depending on the topic. I learned what a menstrual cycle was, and where babies came from, and what masturbation was, all the various genitalia, and a few choice swear words. Of course I learned more of the interesting side of sex from friends a bit later. I had a friend writing a truly memorable book with romance-novel explicit sex scenes starting in junior high. She had 5 older sisters. Another friend gave me a copy of the Joy of Sex when I was somewhere in that age range, too. It was illustrated with fairly uninteresting pictures of couples in different positions, but it explained the mechanics of pleasure more than other references I'd had to that point. I got better at masturbating. I tried watching scrambled channels a few times when I babysit at homes that had cable.

I had a pretty good damn idea bout how it all worked and went together by 13, I just lacked the experience. I fooled around a little with a boy in school from 13 - 17, I think. Mostly it amounted to groping and eventually I blew him, though not to ejaculation until after I was 18. I had sex the first time a couple months shy of 18, at college.

I don't know why I was so sexually intuitive as such a young age. I guarantee anything my mind kicked out was far more "troubling" than anything I actually saw until I was well into college. I am imaginative. Still, it's far easier to turn me on through writing than seeing. Stories play through my head when I'm getting off far more often than scenes from porn video. I am very sexual, if sexually frustrated the last few years. I pretty much always have been. It would have helped if I had more honest parents. I would say more exposure to material, in the right context would have helped greatly.

I was troubled for a long time by my "deviant" fantasies, preferences, and proclitivities. I eventually was able to explore and learn that while some might consider me a deviant, I wasn't, really. I'm a little violent. Gee, I wonder why.

Nye's picture

Supplicant

oh, I didn't have a kiss until I lost my virginity. Sex was never a thing tied to emotions for me. Once I was old enough to know better, it also wasn't tied to marriage. I had sex when I wanted to and when I was ready to deal with the consequences. I knew about safer sex, etc., but I also went to a Baptist school where nothing was ever discussed in school besides "DON'T" and biology and anatomy... never sex, mind you.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

I grew up with very openly sexual parents - none of them are American or prudish, and two of them are both semi-nudists and medical professionals (specifically in the area of pregnancy and childbirth). I never recall NOT knowing everything about sex and its various consequences; it's like I've always known. I have not ever watched parents having sex, or anything like that, but they will still be nude around me today. The only person in my family I ever really cover up for is my younger brother, and I'm not sure why (maybe for reasons similar to Temmin's...).

Sex and nudity were very natural and never remotely taboo. As far as I know none of my parents care for porn of any type, but my mother did have a Kama Sutra book with very explicit art and descriptions which I was fascinated with, starting around maybe age 8, which is when I began to fantasise graphically. I would sneak the book into my room, and that I don't know why. It's not like the book was hidden from me.

I didn't really have TV but we would occasionally go to Indie flicks with sex/nudity, even when I was quite young, and they did impress on me - but I think in the normal manner that the first exposure to any major life theme would. My parents hate violence (I love it), so that was discouraged but not forbidden - my mom wouldn't buy my brother video games but allowed him to buy his own. Sex was fine though.

So starting at about 8 I became increasingly sexual and was reading sexually explicit books and online material (pics didn't interest me), and when I got online around age 10, there was a bit of cybersex and a lot of more general, but still explicit, sexual talk with various older men. There was one guy in his 40s whom I chatted with regularly for about 10 years. I would also send nude pics of myself to some of the men (or 'people'). I was quite literally a very young, very sexual girl on the internet, semi-seducing much older men - sort of like that myth you think doesn't actually exist. I was it!

But I was not socially comfortable around my peers until well into college, and I didn't even have my first kiss until I was 16. Boys didn't really start to actively pursue me until I was 17, and I was VERY oblivious. It took years before I realised the amount of attention I actually got/get, though I still cannot gauge how I was perceived as a younger teen. The summer after I graduated high school, at 18, I lost my virginity. That was nearly 10 years ago, and I've really come into my sexual own since then, but in what I feel is a healthy way. I am not a sex addict (although I have a strong libido and am very sexual in general), and I have made few poor sexual choices, none that I truly regret. I love sex and it enriches my life, so I think my early exposure to it has only been good.

Note: my brother seems pretty psychologically healthy in this regard, too, though he is less passionate a person.

Voyeur's picture

I wonder how many underage children have read An Intimate History, and if/how it has affected them.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I read similiar stories at a young age (and some much worse), but I don't want to encourage underage reading of this work. If an underage person were to read it, I would hope they would go to a responsible, trustworthy older person with questions, if they had them.

I have two children under age 18 myself. They know Mama writes things they can't read yet. No1 is almost pathological about anything remotely inappropriate for her age group, and comes to me the second she sees something she thinks she shouldn't have to talk it over. I am lucky to have such a trusting relationship with her (No2 is younger and completely uninterested in "icky stuff"). When the main couple in Red String made love (very tastefully I might add and not at all graphically), she came bursting out of her bedroom with a literal ZOMG!! MOM!! GO TO RED STRING RIGHT NOW!! She wanted to talk about it. We decided that they were in love and it was very sweet and appropriate, and that Kazuo is being a dick right now. Wink

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

lol. Since the world is frustrating and does NOT offer us immediate gratification and resolution, I suppose you daughter could be learning something valuable from reading that web comic. But oh my goodness, it' so dramatic and unrealistic to me sometimes. XD Definitely what I consider shallower entertainment that mostly just passes time. Smile Kazuo was characterized as being so much more stable than this. It really doesn't seem to fit his personality, even if he is in extreme circumstances.

greatmediocrity's picture

Devotee

Ugh, the way Kazuo is acting just drives me up a wall. I don't mean because he's acting stupid, I mean because it's like he's been replaced with an evil twin. I see she's started a new chapter now, so hopefully that will be resolved and we can go back to the regularly-scheduled programming.

Saramander's picture

Petitioner

I concur. The lovemaking in Red String was handled very well and was quite beautiful. Also, Kazuo Is being a total dick Wink I can see where she is going with this story line, though. He made a mistake by making love to her when he knew what his father was up to, but at the same time, he should grow a pair and tell daddy to go fuck himself.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I know he's being a dick right now, but I can't help but feel sorry for him. I think he just needs some time to grow up and figure out what's important right now. Breaking away from your parents is one of the hardest things in the world to do.

Voyeur's picture

And why am I a cracker?

seia's picture

Devotee

you didn't make an account to post on and choose a picture on, so you got the standard one.

MeiLin's picture
Pedes's picture

Postulant

Hmm, that's interesting...
I always thought those default icons might have some sexual subtext (doughnut with a hole - someone who hmm, bottoms, hot-dog - male, precel - romantic (hear shaped), pop-corn - someone who sits back and watches, sandwich - likes... sandwich, cracker... uh, I forgot 0o). Then again I'm also a visual artist so prone to seek meanings that might not be there... *cough*

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

When I was really little, I asked where babies come from, and mom explained. I thought for a bit, and then wondered "So the mommy chicken if lays an egg and the daddy chicken comes and sits on it?" Mom was like "Let's go over that again... I think I missed explaining something"

I recall touching myself when I was 4-5 years old, and not knowing why it was something that needed to be done secretly and discreetly. I also used to confound Mom with the knots I managed to get in my jump ropes. I still hope that she didn't realize that some of them were made after wiggling free from a little self-bondage. Around that time I'd already had all sorts of interesting fantasies involving the combination of "non-consent" and Disney villains, so I guess I've been wired toward bdsm-like activities from pretty much the beginning.

Things were pretty quiet until I stumbled across 'lemons' while reading some anime fanfiction. Intrigued, I read a bunch, and then decided to do a little research on the internet. I acutely remember being frustrated that I couldn't find a picture of male genitalia (amazing, huh?) I finally found a medical-leaning site with a heat distribution video depicting the process of erection. Ah hah! I went on to read some articles on the kama sutra and other 'technique' things. I gave my first blowjob at around 15 (the same night I had my first kiss) and later lost my virginity at 16 (anal) and 17 (vaginal) in an emotionally abusive relationship. I guess the only lucky thing about that was that I had accidentally broken my hymen myself prior to vaginal sex, so my first time was boring, but not painful. An abstinence pledge means a lot less after sex that really should be considered rape. A thousand no's and one yes. I'm still kicking myself for that yes. I guess it could be considered 'under duress' or whatever, but I didn't have the confidence back then to do anything about it. I thought I loved the guy when really I was just wrapped around his finger.

Thankfully, I've settled into a much more healthy relationship since then and learned the very important lesson that I can choose to submit. Just because someone's pushy doesn't mean they have my best interests in mind or that they'll take care of me. I'm honestly glad to have learned that before I wander into a BDSM scene.

As far as my upbringing goes, I'm from a strongly christian family, and my parents are both loving and supportive of me and each other. I wasn't abused by my family or anything like that. My parents were pretty protective about what I could watch on both the violence and sexuality fronts. They didn't mind a make-out session in a movie, as long as they were there to remind us that that was supposed to be for marriage, but senseless violence was out of the question. Mom gave me 'the talk' in 5th grade, since I started menstruating on the last day before summer break (Aarrrgh! Just in time for our graduation ceremony.) We covered hygiene and how babies were made, but we really didn't talk about any of the emotional repercussions or anything like that.

magalicious's picture

Postulant

... until I was eighteen, too. I still feel very childlike when it comes to relationships and sex, and am not very sure of myself. I much prefer to be 'told' or shown what to do, because otherwise, I'm hopeless and skittish.
I chalk my sex and trust weirdness up to growing up in one of those "Just don't do it!" households. I think children should be taught what sex is, and that it is a natural and not freak-worthy, at a fairly early age - and the child will tell you when he/she is curious. The parent just needs to respond calmly, and not with panic and shame, because the parent's reaction (and not necessarily the technicalities) is what the child will take away from the conversation. Again, JMO.

ereuyi's picture

I really agree with several other people here that the parental tone/reaction when discussing sex is much more influential than exposure to things like erotic stories or even porn online (other stuff I'm reserving judgment on).

I was a very curious child and started exploring this kind of thing early-- I don't remember when exactly, but I was posing my Barbies and using my buzzy pen for something other than writing several years before I turned ten. My parent's reaction was to tell me to stop it and take me to sermons that implied (at least to me) that masturbation was sinful. Also, the bible study where we were told that you should only hug boys with one arm because full hugs give them sinful thoughts (picnics, too) helped convince me that just about anything I could do with a guy (girls were right out) would send me to hell. It didn't stop me, but it made me feel like I was a horrible person every time I did. My first relationships were reckless (going more quickly than I was comfortable with because I was stuck in a virgin/slut mindset) and short-lived, and I'm still working on developing a reasonable sense of self-esteem and enough confidence to pursue a healthy relationship.

My first experience was with a friend, thankfully, and aside from the awkward conversation in which he tried to politely beg off a relationship (and I had to try to explain that I wasn't expecting one) I don't regret it at all.

So aside from the sort of things that even adults often can't take, pedophilia, etc., I think that positively presented exposure is much better than censorship.

Cait's picture

Well, discounting my first kiss and grope (which happened before I had any education on things sex related), I wasnt sexually active (and that includes kissing) until just before my 18th birthday. But I was well educated! I guess thats what happens when you discover fanfic and romance novels at 12. Thankfully my taste in writing has improved Wink
I dont think any lasting harm was done, and really I think my 'education' led to a more mature outlook on the subject, as well, it led me to believe that being 'active' wasnt something that was needed at the time. I felt that sex was something that could wait. Although, I was very annoyed whenever someone told me sex was for 'grownups that love each other'. Really, how stupid to people think adolesents are?

I will point out that abstinence only sex-ed programs (in Catholic school systems here in Canada and everywhere in the US) have much MUCH higher instances of pregnancy and STI/STD occurances. To me, that says that there is a knowledge gap that needs to be filled.

Also: Old enough to drive, old enough to have a job/in some cases pay rent, old enough to join the army reserves, old enough to pay taxes, old enough to go to post-secondary . . . . but you aren't old enough to touch other people (or in the US drink)

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I very much agree with you that abstienanceonly education is just asking for trouble. However, a point of clarification: abstinence-only sex-ed programs aren't *everywhere* in the U.S. They're only in certain schools, some public & some private, mostly in specific areas of the country where the local culture is very heavily influenced by a certain sect of Christianity. In other words, please don't lump us all into the Bible-belt Baptist camp Blum 3 (Our previous president was from that region and certainly advocated that kind of education, but it never became any sort of national requirement, thank goodness!).

informatively yours,
a Protestant Christian (go UCC!) from the northeast Wink

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I tease an actually-VERY-pagan friend of mine in the UCC that it stands for Unitarians Considering Christ. Sometimes she is amused. Wink

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

LOL. It depends on the church, really. Mine is sufficiently graybeard/conservative that many of the congregants weren't thrilled with the United Church of Christ's national "we welcome gays & gay marriage" campaign in the last few years. But in my (admittedly biased) opinion, that's the beauty of the UCC. We're a bunch of independent congregations (most of us were originally from the independent/stubborn-former-pioneers/we-don't-need-no-stinkin'-bishops-or-greater-church-hierarchy Congregationalist tradition) that are organized into the UCC, not subverted to it. And yes, some of the churches do seem to edge into the territory of other denominations *shrugs*.

Saramander's picture

Petitioner

My boyfriend's family goes to the UCC and the whole church actually calls themselves "Unitarians Considering Christ" They have a great openness and sense of humor about it.

Kalietha's picture

My parents made sure I knew the mechanics and the biological stuff young enough I don't even remember having the discussion - it was only the vocabulary that I learned later.

Can't tell you how it affected me though, since I was also brought up with the idea that it was better to wait until you're married, so am still a virgin ^_^()

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