Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wait a second. It's a SIN to be a pig-humper?

Right around the age of 5, I received a gift from my grandmother. A stuffed pig.  It was of medium height, pink, and pretty firm for a stuffed animal. I loved it! I would sleep with it at night, and would pretend I was riding it around the room sometimes. It would carry me from my bed, to my closet, to my tea-set, and back around again.

One day, my ride was a little different.  As soon as the pig touched a certain spot between my legs, I instantly felt a warm, pleasurable, but also truly indescribable sensation.  The first time it happened, it shocked me. I immediately jumped off of the pig, and looked at it. I wondered, What was that? What caused that feeling? and then I thought, Could it happen again?  I was curious. I got back on top of the pig, and once again, instantaneously, that exact feeling came back. It was amazing. I was onto something. (No pun intended.) At that young age, I had absolutely no idea that I was masturbating, nor that it was even sexual in nature.  I just knew that if I got on top of my pig in just that way, it would feel really good for 2 to 3 seconds. I couldn't even describe the feeling.  I just liked it. A lot. So I kept doing it. (Thanks, Nana!)

A few years later, by around age 7 or 8, I had graduated to pillows, or I would sometimes ball up the sheet or blanket in my bed and lie on top of it.  It would only be a few seconds before that feeling would come back. I enjoyed it. I felt no guilt about it, because I didn't even know what I was doing.  I thought of no one while I was doing it; I hadn't ever seen a naked person other than myself.  Boys were still gross to me, so my mind never connected the pleasure I felt with sex. I didn't even know what sex was, much less an orgasm. And since I couldn't articulate the feeling I was getting, nor what part of my body I was stimulating in order to attain said feeling, it never occurred to me to talk to anyone about it. I thought, in my young mind, that I was the only one who happened upon this experience. It was my golden nugget.  That is, until my mother approached me.

She took me into my bedroom, and sat me down on the bed. 

"Stephanie, I have to ask you a question," she asked with a pained expression on her face.

"Ok," I answered. I was confused, and scared. I wondered what I had done to make her so sad.
She hesitated while I mentally ran through everything I had done that day that could possibly be the reason I was about to be in trouble.  I couldn't think of a single thing.

Finally, after what seemed like ages of silence, she asked, "Have you been mastur..." she paused... "masturbating?"

Masturbating?  I asked myself. What is that?  I had no inkling. I had never heard the word before. Well since I don't know what it is, then that means I probably haven't done it, I thought.

"No, mommy," I answered. "I don't think I have." And I was being honest. Even at that moment I still did not equate what I had been doing with the subject matter at hand.

She continued. "You haven't been..." more hesitation, "touching yourself?" I noticed her hand motion at her crotch area moving back and forth toward her pants and away again as she asked the question.  My cheeks flushed.  I felt embarrassed, but didn't know why. To that point, I had never used my hands to "touch myself" as she put it, so I still didn't completely make the connection. 

"I only touch there when I'm washing my bottom in the bathtub," I said nervously. I didn't comprehend what she was asking me, but I still felt like punishment was inevitable.

She wasn't satisfied with my answer. She looked more aggravated as she continued the interrogation, "You don't do anything that gives you a funny feeling down there?"

Just then, I understood. My face turned red, I could feel my heart race, and my clasped hands began to sweat.  What I had been doing was bad? Oh no, I thought, I really am in trouble now.  I started to cry.

"Yes, mommy," I stammered through the tears, "I lay down on my pillow or my sheet sometimes." I sniffled, and wiped my tears away with my hands. "Am I in trouble?" I asked awaiting my sentence.

She winced. "Let's see what Jehovah thinks," she said as she reached behind her back and pulled out a little red book.  No, it wasn't the Bible from which we would read Jehovah's thoughts.  It was another book with the title stamped in gold lettering, "Your Youth--Getting the Best out of It."
It was a book we got from the Kingdom Hall [church or meeting place of Jehovah's Witnesses] so that meant what I was doing was not only bad to my mom, it was bad to God! I was even more frightened as she flipped the book open.

She landed on Chapter 5, and told me to read the title.

"Masturbation and Homosexuality," I read aloud, instantly perplexed. I had just learned by context clues what masturbation was, although I still didn't really understand. But what in the world was homosexuality? I didn't even know what sexuality was in the general sense.

We continued reading the chapter together, which contained information like: 

"The apostle writes of those who 'gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.' (Ephesians 4:19) In his letter to the Colossians...Paul mentioned “covetousness,” and in this text, “greediness.” Really, masturbation expresses both of these undesirable qualities. How? Well, it is an expression of desiring something that does not rightly belong to one. God has provided marriage as the arrangement in which to satisfy sexual desires. But the person who practices masturbation is, in effect, trying to obtain that satisfaction without paying the price." (Youth book, p. 37, par 6)  How do you explain to a child, who had never even heard of sex, and has no clue what marriage means, that she should stop masturbating because sexual desires are only able to be satisfied by married people? Needless to say, "God's counsel" fly yards over my head.

The book went on to insinuate that if I masturbated, I would become homosexual, saying, "Weakly giving in to sexual desires by masturbation will certainly not give you strength when faced with a situation tempting you to commit fornication—or even homosexuality. Just the opposite, it cultivates wrong thinking and wrong desire. In fact, masturbation can lead into homosexuality. In such instances the person, not satisfied with his lonely sexual activity, seeks a partner for mutual sex play.

This happens much more frequently than you may realize. Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned. And often a person gets started when very young by playing with another’s sexual parts, and then engaging in homosexual acts." (Youth Book, p. 39, pars. 9,10)

I felt awful.  I still had zero understanding of what I was doing, and I most definitely had no comprehension of what a homosexual was, but all of it was sinful according to what God (The Watch Tower Society) said in the book we had just read. And since this instruction was ultimately coming from my mother, I had no choice but to trust it.

It was only then that I became burdened with guilt, often contemplating whether I would die at Armageddon for doing what used to seem very natural and normal and good to me.  I didn't stop masturbating though.  I just decided that I would never again tell my mother that I was doing it.  I didn't want her to be disappointed, and I most definitely didn't want to endure another excruciatingly uncomfortable "lesson" from another piece of literature she had in her arsenal. 

Over the next few years, she would often ask me, "Stephanie... are you still doing the... 'master'?" while doing the hand-to-crotch motion she had done the first time.  She never said the full word. It was a shortened "code" that only she and I knew. 

"No," I would tell her, hoping she couldn't see I was lying.  If she did, she never let on.  That would be the end of the questioning, and I would breathe a sigh of relief. 

As time went on, I would periodically see articles about masturbation written in the Watchtower and  Awake!* magazines and would instantly feel that same discomfort as I when I was a child on the bed with my mother.  As a matter of fact, it is such a big deal to Jehovah's Witnesses that if you were to search their literature, you'd find "masturbation" or "masturbate" mentioned 435 times. That's 435 times the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society warns of how "unclean" and "immoral" you are for exploring your own body and finding satisfaction doing it. 

The Watchtower even warns that if one masturbates, he would not be qualified to acquire any higher rankings in the congregation, " If a man...masturbates, could he measure up to such standards? The habitual practicer of in danger of succumbing to still more serious wrongs.  He is hardly in a position to serve as 'an example to the flock.'" (Watchtower September 15, 1973, p. 569) I find it very interesting that a man who masturbates is not deemed worthy to have a position of privilege in the congregation, but no policies are in place to remove one who is accused of child molestation.

As the years passed by, I found more dignified ways of pleasuring myself, and realized that with time, and education, my guilt about it faded. It kept me from being promiscuous. I didn't feel an overwhelming need to "fornicate". When I was aroused, I would handle it myself, and move along with whatever I had to do that day.  While my other friends were rushing to get married at 17 and 18 years old, I didn't feel the need.  As such, I was able to take my time and figure out who I was before jumping into a quick, superficial marriage only to have sex. 

My mother was still thinking about it, though.  Even into my adulthood, she persistently mentioned the "master"... and how it was condemned by God.  At one point, she even let herself into my apartment while I was at work, and found a vibrator I had in one of my drawers. She actually confronted me about it, complete with quotes from various Watch Tower literature! When I asked what she was doing in my apartment in the first place, she explained that she wanted to "help clean" before I moved out. 

Exacerbated, I replied, "Look, Mom. If I'm not allowed to have sex with someone, then I am most definitely going to do it with myself." She sat there in stunned silence for a moment. Then she got up, and walked out of the room.  That was the last time we spoke about it. 

All of this just really emphasizes the amount of control the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses attempts to exert upon its members.  There is something utterly wrong when an organization decides what its members do with their own bodies in their own bedrooms; and endeavors to guilt them into confession, and ultimately cessation by threatening to remove higher privileges.  It is sad that more Jehovah's Witnesses are not able to realize their own sexual potential, and prowess because they are made to feel so guilty, and even downright sinful. 

Silver Lining:  
I truly believe that we, as humans, enjoy sex as much as we do because we are supposed to have it! And if a subject is kept incredibly "taboo", it is only logical that it would pique the interest of most people (especially the young and inexperienced).  Mine certainly was, and I'm glad for it.  I really got to know my body. I know what I do like, and I know what I don't.  When I did finally have sex, I was much more confident,  because I already knew what I wanted to feel.  

My husband has definitely benefited from that as well.  He has said numerous times that "he's never met a woman who knows her body" like I do.  That makes him more comfortable as well.

All-in-all, I say masturbate, or don't.  It's completely up to you. Not your religion.  Take back some control! It's your life. Your body. Know it. Love it. 

*The Watchtower and Awake! are bi-monthly magazines published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. These magazines are studied, taken as doctrine, and peddled door-to-door by Jehovah's Witnesses.