This is a recent article I wrote for the upcoming gutterbird NEST zine (an awesome publication that promotes artists in Toronto). They will be having their next issue release party on May 1st. You should be there. I will be there.
When I was eight I was having sex dreams. I also humped my teddy bears. Yeah. I said it. No shame. BUT I WAS EIGHT.
Our current understanding of anything to with children and sex is that, to them, it is explained in a manner that is all very mechanical and logical and maybe connected to this distant non-understandable concept of ‘love’ that our parents talk about, blushing and stuttering all the while.
The dreams I had were comprised of rather obvious symbols and images that would depict what the subconscious of a hypersexual eight year old might resemble; enlarged genitalia that you traveled through to get to other realms – but needed a password before entering – and strange naked games in which there were always boys, naked, jumping on top of me.
To be frank – I have no idea if I understood any of this. I knew it made me feel all tingly and happy and excitingly naughty, so I didn’t complain, because, why WOULD you complain about something that made you feel all those things… Not that I could control what I dreamt about anyhow… Sex was just running rampant in my randy, young subconscious mind.
What also happened when I was 8: I found my mother and her boyfriend’s underwear on the couch one Saturday morning when I went to go watch the Weekenders and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It was mind-boggling. What on earth would they be doing taking their underpants off in the living room? Let alone taking them off TOGETHER?!
I knew this likely meant that I should recognize my mother and her boyfriend as sexual entities in their own selves (as they seemed to be reenacting the naked games I was having in my dreams) – but quite like how my mother did not want to imagine her young, innocent daughter as a being with a libido, I was in denial about every adult having a libido.
When my parents divorced, my grandmother bought my father about 200 different types of condoms for Christmas. I looked away and chose to ignore the fact that my father may have been a sexual creature.
Which is hilarious, because I was eight.
What is sexuality to an eight year old?
I remember watching a girl very gently, softly and carefully focus on braiding another girl’s hair and feeling ‘funny’. I remember doing ‘back tickles’ late at night with my female cousins, extracting pleasure from the sensitivity of light fingernails on the skin from our necks down to the waistline of our pajama pants. I remember seeing a flash of testicles in grade one when a fellow classmate was doing sommersaults and again, feeling ever so ‘funny’. I remember trading candy hearts with a boy named Luke and thinking we would get married.
This is not dangerous stuff. This is nothing that we need to be terrified of for our offspring. To me, these instances strike me as moments of intense sensuality that derive not from genital stimulation, but an ability to appreciate and experience pleasure.
I feel the need to paint you a picture: I was the quietest, shyest girl in my class. No boys had crushes on me. I became a flaming red ball of blushing embarrassment if ever asked to speak in front of more than one person at a time. I didn’t keep up with the latest fashions – at ten, I tip-toed around the schoolyard in purple velvet pants and an over-sized pink teddy bear sweater to hide the swollen nipples mother nature hatefully handed over to me.
What I am hoping this characterization of myself as a child will do is to negate that image of a half-naked, extroverted tomboy who went around asking if she could see down every 9-year-old boys pants, and her hand always between her legs regardless of the fanciness of the restaurant.
Something is okay to recognize: children are sexual beings. Not just the flagrantly obvious horny little boys – but also the quiet, shy timid girl in the corner.
SHOCK GASP APPALLING DISGRACE HOW DARE YOU SAY THIS CAITLIN?!
Now I’m not saying we should toss away all thought patterns we have on the subject matter. Throwing in the towel and just letting our kids masturbate all over the place likely won’t solve any of their internal sexual reservations that most of them will have when they reach adulthood.
However, it would solve a lot of our future generations psychological turmoil if we acknowledge that children are already pre-programmed for sex long before we even have a chance to explain to them that it has to do with a bed, two individuals who look at each other longingly and lovingly, and with mushing our genitals together.