I’m not sure, although God knows I started early enough.
I was seven when I discovered a secret. My uncles’ books are dirty books. Some lines go “He cupped her breast with one hand and felt for her wetness with the other.”
I became an instant bookworm.
Had my parents only taken the time to peruse some of the books that my sea-faring uncles sent to us for storage, they’d have understood why their daughter, formerly of the tree-climbing, gun-toting ilk, suddenly became hell-bent on devouring books, with pages thicker than her ankle.
The books I was so enthralled with before would be too pat and soporific for me now. But to my then seven-year-old mind, each story was more lewd and infinitely more colorful than the last. I found myself learning words like “shaft” and “vulva;” words I instinctively knew I shouldn’t repeat to friends and playmates but words which I found so darkly enticing that at some point, they came to represent everything that’s mysterious and exciting about the world.
So, when did I learn to masturbate? At seven, of course. You can’t put books like those in a precocious seven-year-old’s hands and expect her to continue believing that babies are made in the same way that bees pollinate flowers.
Eventually, my hands learned to stray from the pages to my own genitals.
It was Mama who first caught on. She wondered why I always slept face-down. See, my brother and I were considered, at that point, to be too young to sleep in our bedrooms, by ourselves. So, we slept on a mattress that we plopped to one side of the parental bed.
I masturbate in a strange way. I call it strange because I’ve never seen any other female masturbate that way. The many females I see on porn movies and my cousin, Claire, all masturbate the same way. They lie on their backs while they stimulate themselves. I don’t. I lie on my chest, with my right hand fisted and trapped between the bed and my vagina. Then, I gyrate; my whole body bearing down on one focal point: that fisted right hand which I must continually rub against.
Naturally, the movements aren’t the type you could produce in total silence. But I didn’t know that so I did it, night after night after night. Oblivious to anything else, I gyrated while beside me, my brother slept. The shaking woke Mama up. Hell, it would have waken anyone up. I was thrashing so wildly I occasionally bumped into the wall.
Mama was furious. She grabbed tufts of my hair and hauled me to my feet. “What were you doing?” she demanded. “How did you learn to do it? Who taught you?”
I’ve always had a healthy sense of self-preservation, even as a young girl. I looked at Mama working herself into a frenzy and decided it would be best to clamp my mouth shut. As angry as my silence made her, I knew she’d be angrier still if I answered her.
But she was relentless. “Why don’t you say something? What we’re you doing? Who taught you? How did you learn?”
Still, I said nothing.
So, she decided to wake my father. “Tan-awa na imong anak (Look at your daughter)!” she choked out. “Do you know what I just saw her do? Do you? Do you?” She looked at me, with something akin to madness swimming in her eyes. “Show your Papa what you just did. Show him! Show him now! No, that’s not what you did! No! That’s not what I saw you do. Show him what I caught you doing!”
So, overwhelmed by my mother’s vehement anger, quaking at the thought of what my father would do to me, confused, and still more than a little sleepy, I did what Mama asked me to do.
I showed him.