A major struggle for me, since I was young, has been the concept of sexual liberation and its expression. My first sexual awakenings came early, earlier than other girls for sure, and earlier than most boys even, I think. Whether this was due to childhood sex abuse or just an acute attunement with the world around me, I cannot say for sure. I do know, however, that it has haunted and affected my life for almost as long as I can remember.
As a pre-to-beginning adolescent, I channeled these notions into writing, the only outlet I had that allowed me to be both true and exploratory. In my writings, I was safe to examine my ideas, to deem them of value or not. At such a young age, I had little context or imagination to process such awakenings, so I did what any young girl would do: I wrote fan fiction.
Oh yes, darlings, I wrote fan fiction left and right. The X-Files, Due South, Roswell… I had a whole catalogue of the ideas and relationships I explored. The dynamics between characters of different shows gave me a rather varied platform upon which to extrapolate my ideas. It was my way of acknowledging the budding desires in my breast, the light glow that started to pulsate inside me when i was just a young, innocent girl.
Yet my stories were always written with love, with so much love it looked like everything else, apparently, to my mother. When I was around 13 (and after I’d been writing these things for 3-4 years), she found one of my notebooks, full of my ill-informed, naive sex stories, and she pretty much FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT. Gone were my notebooks, my thoughts, and dreams… Here was a lecture, about waiting until you were mature and in love and all sorts of things that really just pissed me off more than anything. Not because they were untrue, or mean, or unreasoned, but because she took away from me one of the only forms of self-expression i had at the time. I mean, I couldn’t talk to her about my feelings, clearly. At the time, I was a bit of an outcast, due to the fact that i liked things like The X-Files and Roswell and Due South, so I had no friends to talk about these things with.
The sad thing, in retrospect, is that I had a better grasp on a healthy relationship at 13 than I did for years and years afterward. Had she actually read my writings, and the longings they contained, instead of getting freaked out and agitated because her teenage daughter was becoming a bit sex-obsessed (because, obviously, I was the first pubescent girl in the history of the world who thought about sex), she might have seen that I had the right idea from the beginning. But alas, she did not, and my feelings and wants were taken away. The only safe place I had was taken away from me, and there was no choice (in my mind) but to take the explorations to the outside world, a world she couldn’t control or take away, except for by grounding me, which I didn’t much abide by anyway. The clear and present danger of abandoning a girl to the outside world is- well, you’ve just given her to the outside world. It is a place much crueler than a young girl’s head or even her mother’s disapproving glower.
And there, in ways, is where it began, and in other ways, the way it ended (at least for years- almost decades- later). The situations I dreamed of, in which a man waited patiently for a woman to be ready, were gone, and that concept didn’t even make its way back into my vision until recently (15 years, over half of my life.). The world outside of me was all there was, and I was most certainly not ready for it at all. But that reaction- that angry, judgemental feeling I got from my mother for wanting sex- well, it was almost enough to make me fuck every man I saw. (I didn’t, incidentally, though I was, as a friend put it “selectively easy”.)
And the weirdest thing of it all is that my mother isn’t really anti-sex; she wouldn’t shame a woman for being sexual. I think, partially, it was an over-reaction due to my older sister getting pregnant at 15, and partially because I was more sullen, withdrawn, and contrary than her other children. In the end though, the way she handled it was more damaging than other things that have happened in my life (for example, the entire instance inspired me to lose my virginity in the backseat of a 93 buick with a spectator up front. This, in all its humiliation, means much less to me now than her theft of my adolescent sexuality.)
Thus, in a strange request: if you find your daughter’s or son’s desperately innocent Twilight/Harry Potter/Glee fan fiction, please do not take it to heart that your child is a whore who is going to end up pregnant/getting someone pregnant. Read it: truly read it, and all the emotional clues you need will be there. I promise that in the context of the relationships, you will find a better clue to your child’s mind than just the simple fact that they are writing about sex. Sex is natural, it is a human curiosity and phenomenon. In most cases, kids will sort themselves out without your help. In others, intervention may be required. Again, you will read this by their own hands, in the sort of sex or relationships they describe.
And be aware, with each step, that the way you address this issue may well be one of the most formative events of their adolescence. Any shame or stupidity or disrespect you instill in them could last years, or even a lifetime.
Yes, I understand that they’re your children… But they’re clearly growing up, and any attempts to stifle them now will be met with rebellion, resentment, and long-lasting influence.