Diary of a 4-year-old Masturbator

Love and Sex

Diary of a 4-year-old Masturbator

Illustration: Akshita Monga

M

y very first orgasm was as public as it gets. I was sitting on my little desk in a full classroom, getting bored as the teacher taught us the alphabet. I swung my legs idly in the air, listening to the fan whirr above. I pressed my legs together, found out that it felt good, and kept repeating the motion for five minutes or so.

Advertisement

All of a sudden, I came. Not that I knew what it was then, but it felt like a tiny explosion of happiness in my core. No fanfare, no sound, and no change in expression. The toddlers around me, with their sticky fingers and muddy faces, were blissfully oblivious to my orgasm.

I was four then.

I thought at first that this elusive, oh-so-lovely feeling I now craved all the time, could be recreated only in my classroom – in that same position, on the same chair that I sat on the first time around. I fought others for my favourite chair, and in the rising heat of the afternoon, continued to squeeze my legs together, waiting until I achieved that blessed release.

From pressing my legs together in class to create “that” sensation, I progressed to masturbating on the couch, on my bed, in the backseat of our car on long road trips, sometimes even in church. To me, it was neither “dirty” nor sexual, but I was wholly aware that this, whatever “this” was, was to be kept a secret.

I had no shame and absolutely no conception of what it was, or what the ramifications of self-pleasure were. At four, I was not doing it to “own my sexuality” – I masturbated because it felt good, just like any other kid would enjoy the sensation of being on a Ferris wheel or a roundabout. (I liked those too; the butterflies in my stomach from coming down on a rollercoaster aroused me too.)

Human bodies fascinated me. The furtive glimpses of nakedness I managed to sneak – dirty magazines ferreted away, aunts changing clothes, discounting the curious toddler in the room – never succeeded in sating my curiosity. I was obsessed with genitals, with the opposite sex, and with exploring the secrets I held in my panties.

I began to do it almost every day.

It was only at 19 that these two wholly distinct halves of my lives met and the orgasm became an acceptable thing to discuss

I don’t remember when I first tried it at home, or when I tried to experiment with other “positions”. By the time I was seven, I was seeking out every opportunity to snuggle under the covers, squeeze my legs together with a finger between my legs, and clench like my life depended on it.

I’d do it while watching TV, a comforter over me, sometimes with other people in the same room. I’d do it in bed, just before going to sleep, with the lights out and the covers over me. And I’d go to sleep spent, but happy, wrist aching with the satisfaction of a job well done. I was never caught, except the times my grandma would ask me, what I’d been doing to make my face so red. I wouldn’t say. I knew better by then that nobody would understand.

Infant masturbation has haunted American researchers and parents since the early 20th century. As this piece in The Atlantic observes, “For parents and experts in mortal fear of masturbation, almost any seemingly innocent activity might be a disguise for self-stimulation. Or it might awaken a desire for it. In the 1910s and 20s, as the writer Christina Hardyment observed, ‘sliding down banisters, persistent tree-climbing, and dangling astride daddy’s legs were discouraged. Back-buttoned pajamas were recommended.’ If nothing ever touched the pelvic region, the child might simply never notice anything was there. The goal, apparently, was to have a child retire on his or her wedding night, disrobe – and find that his body had somehow sprouted genitals.”

But the fact is, all children explore themselves: Freud’s theories are premised on infant sexuality. Parenting forums are full of queries from desperate mommies and daddies, wondering how to get their children to stop touching themselves in public. Doctors on paediatric website FAQs reassure parents that child masturbation “does not mean your child will be oversexed, promiscuous, or sexually deviant”.

Even as a four-year-old, I must have had this foreknowledge that my parents would overreact to my little secret. When viewed through grown-up eyes, child masturbation can seem appalling – like fast-forwarding to adulthood. For a child, though, masturbation rarely extends beyond the immediate pleasure. A child never connects it to sex. For me, sex seemed disgusting and unnecessary until I grew up. I thought about boys a lot, but never in a sexual way. In a dreamy, Hindi-movie-running-through-fields kind of way.

It was only at 19 that these two wholly distinct halves of my lives met and the orgasm became an acceptable thing to discuss. But even as my friends discovered this glorious feeling for the first time in their lives and gushed about it, analysed it, weighed it, over-thought it, got weirded out by it, shrank from it while wanting it, I just smiled. I thought of the happy four-year-old squeezing her legs under a wooden desk. She knew all about uncomplicated bliss. We don’t have a clue.

Comments