Who Needed “Girls Gone Wild?”

When I was 10, I learned a new word:  Lesbian.  My mom called me one.  And it was not meant the way kids call each other “gay” today, even though that isn’t nice either.  She was genuinely worried…

 
But first, let me back up.  In my three-part post on Innocence Lost and Found, I described the difficulty I had in 3rdgrade with navigating the white water of love and friendship.  Before I left the New Jersey town that I felt was ruining me, I did finally make a BFF whom both my mom and I liked.  Sharon lived in the blue-collar part of town and therefore was not part of Jersey high society that my mom had hoped I would aspire to.  But her parents were nice people, and Sharon herself was quite engaging.  In fact, we looked a lot alike, which was really funny in school when the teachers got us mixed up.

Eventually we had sleep-overs.  And we did a lot of fun things.  We read comics.  We experimented with makeup.   We even invented a verbal game of Clue that we could play in bed in the dark – how cool is that!  We talked about boys.  And sometimes things got kind of racy.  After our bath we would play strip-tease with our towels, belting out pop tunes as we pranced around in the bathroom.

 

(Beautiful actress Natalie Wood playing classy stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.  My book in progress, Licking the Spoon, discusses the biological and historical underpinnings of males viewing erotica, and how women can turn it to our enjoyment.)

One night as we lay in bed after a particularly steamy strip session, I noticed that Sharon was on her belly, hands under her hips, and the bed was shaking.  I realized – OMG she’s doing that thing that I do!!!  We talked about it and discovered that each of us thought we were the only ones who knew how!

We also started something that it turned out a lot of girlfriends did.  We called it “play pretend.”  We would pretend to be a male/female couple, one of us playing the boy and one the girl, and make out.  Today I know that this is normative behavior called sex rehearsal play, previously discussed in my post Of Perverts, Prophets and Posts.  Not all kids do it, but many do.  Boys sometimes do it in a group called a “circle jerk.”  Whereas me and my girlfriends preferred serial monogamy, no jerking.

One day I had a friend over, and we were mimicking a couple of attractive teachers at our school who were known to be dating.  We were in the closet in case my mom came in my room.  She must have come in without us hearing her, because suddenly the door was yanked open.  No doubt our hair was mussed and our eyes slightly glazed over.  We had been deep into playing amorous Miss Rice and Mr. Cheski.

Mom sent her home.  And sat me down.  “Are you a lesbian?” she asked.  As if I knew what a lesbian even was.  “A woman who loves other women,” my mom explained.  Today I think that’s a nice description, but her tone of voice let me know that she didn’t think it was nice at all.

She forbid me to see that girl ever again.  Which was kind of a joke because my other friends played pretend, too.  But that ended it for me.  All I could hear was “Are you a lesbian?  Are you a lesbian?  Are you?”  And I didn’t know the answer.

It was about that time that a book called Female Sexual Perversion appeared on my mom’s bookcase.  I looked up “Lesbianism,” and here is what it showed:

 (Illustration from the book by Morris Chideckel, MD )

AACCKKKKK!!!  Was that me? Eventually I would find out.

47 thoughts on “Who Needed “Girls Gone Wild?”

    • Thanks, nirvana! Our culture seems confused about the sexuality of children doesn’t it? Adults either ignore it because it makes them uncomfortable, or sexualize it as if it were directed at them, which is inappropriate and abusive.

    • Thank you, Vena. I wish we had more truth telling to kids about sex and about kids’ sexualities in general. Could save a lot of worry and heartache and help move us as a culture toward sexual literacy.

    • In animals they call it sex rehearsal play – the little ones watching the bigger ones and imitating them till they get it right. In our human culture we don’t get to watch the bigger ones, so we’re kind of shooting in the dark, as it were. We fumble around, and eventually we get it right – but sometimes not until after years of heartache. I’d like to change that. No, not by having them watch, but by educating them! Thanks for your comment, Diana.

  1. I am quite surprised that this is the actual environment you grew up in. Seeing how you accept and see all sexual preferences as being equal, Ive always assume that you were influenced by your parents. Haha boy am I wrong. 😛

    • I guess it’s a lesson in how we should never assume we know what path another has walked, huh Gary! 🙂 Partly it was the times that were conservative, and my mom had been raised by a very Victorian mother herself. I think my mom wanted to escape that and be more liberal herself, but was afraid of her own sexuality and then afraid of mine as well.

  2. That is very crazy, how your mother forbid you not to see your best friend again as kids and when you and sharon where having fun with the “play pretend.”

    • She was worried about it, Alfredo. She didn’t see it as play. She was raised by a Victorian mother and wanted to be more liberal, but she was just uncomfortable with sexuality. But it was painful for us girls to lose our best friends.

  3. 3rd grade was about the age for me too. For a while I thought that was freakishly young but this article makes me feel better about that. It is natural for us to be curious about our bodies and how things feel. I appreciate you bringing this to light.

    • I’m glad my post helped you feel better about yourself. I think in our culture we either totally ignore the sexuality of children, or even worse, give negative messages from the beginning. Then sometimes people have to spend a lifetime undoing the damage.

  4. I remember my Mother was concerned that I was a Lesbian in High School. I don’t know why it would make her uncomfortable and she has never expressed any serious worry or negative feelings. But I remember thinking it was was odd that she was wondering if I was. A family friend even told me that she asked her if she knew I was a Lesbian or not! My first reaction was, “Huh? Why would she ask you that? Why was she even fretting about it?”

    I’m not a Lesbian, but I am dating a woman who is biologically female, but identifies as Gender-queer. She hasn’t met her yet, but I just hope (pretty sure she’s not, but you never know) she isn’t going to react negatively.

    • I don’t know if this is true in your case, Wicked, but I suspect my mom had her own feelings toward women that were scary to her. I often noticed that things that worried her about me were things that might have applied to her. Good luck with introducing your partner to your mom!

  5. When you mentioned this earlier today, I couldn’t believe it because I never did such a thing with my friends. After reading this, however, I come to realize it is a lot more innocent than I originally thought.

  6. Haha I have never done that with my friends too, but it is really sad that your mother wont allow you to be friend with her anymore. The must hurt yours and her feelings/ 😦

  7. In high school, my parents always asked me if I were lesbian because of the way I looked. I always wore jeans and a shirt, had a short haircut, never wore makeup, and only hung out with one girl. Moreover, I was not interested that much in dating because I never really thought of it. Not only did my parents ask me if I were a lesbian but so were my peers in class. It is just interesting how people react to how individuals look and act and automatically assume their sexual orientation. It’s very true that life is all about experience and experimenting.

  8. I used to do something similar to this when I was in elementary school with my friends. It’s crazy to find out years and years later that this is actually a common and normal act amongst children!

  9. This is so true for I have gone through this not knowing what I was actually doing at such a young age. I thought only girls “pretend play” but its funny how boys do this as well but they just won’t admit it.

  10. Thanks to your class Lynda, when I become a parent in the future, I will allow them to discover themselves and their own sexuality without intervening too much.

  11. I am really glad this is a topic you spoke about, both here and in class. I seriously have thought my whole life that I was a freak or a pervert for being a part of “sex rehearsal play.” I kept it a secret for a long long time and now I feel like this should be talked about more because I think it would help a lot of parents and children be more open with each other and not afraid to express any kind of feelings they have.

  12. This article emphasizes how parents has a huge role in building their child’s perception of certain things with either a positive or negative connotation. I just wish that nowadays more parents could explain it better to children what lesbianism means.

  13. Woah! I have done this with my childhood friends when I was a kid. It was nothing but innocent when we were little and now that I grew up and am finding out other children have done it, makes me wonder how many children today do it too!~ I dont think its anything wrong as long as they are being safe and not hurting anyone lol experimentation is fun y’allll

  14. I know there was more to this story, but what stuck with me was your mother’s reaction. Maybe one day kids won’t be met with disgust and general negativity when “discovering” themselves.

  15. Is it a common question for mothers to question their daughter’s sexuality? My friends and I have actually discussed this before, our mothers having questioned us before. I loved this blog post! Childhood innocence and exploration is such an interesting subject.

  16. I love reading your posts!!!
    Even after completing my extra credit, i know I will still find myself reading these articles.
    Your titles definitely grab our attention! How do you come up with these? It seems as if titles, or that first opening sentence are the hardest to come up with.

    I’m curious as to if you’ve ever heard about your childhood friend again?
    It seems as if your mom was just worried and didn’t know how to respond to the situation so the easiest thing to do was to forbid you to see her again.

    Smart title in correlation to your post! ☺

    • My friend and I did get to have a healing talk later, thank you for asking.
      As far as titles, I usually develop them last – after I know what the post is going to say. I do think I have a knack for that (although some are better than others! 🙂 )

  17. Wow my mom is the same, there are moments when she asks if I’m a lesbian. I always tell her that I am not attracted to a girl in a sexual way but if a girl is pretty I will admit to that. I believe that it is okay for a child to be curious at such a young age and still be able to have that childhood innocence.

  18. This story was quite intriguing. I must say it is normal for children to experiment, even though adults freak out and frown upon it. I had girl cousins growing up who did the same thing, and one time my mom busted them and yelled at my aunt. My mom took it as a form of perversion, and made it seem that these were acts, that my girl cousins, must have seen their parents doing things in the bedroom. Maybe so, but anyone who is educated with child development knows that this behavior can be part of the norm growing up.

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