When I was in third grade, I convinced myself I had full-blown AIDS. Seeing as I hadn't dabbled in intravenous drug use, ever gotten a tattoo or a blood transfusion or had sex, how did scrawny, massive-eyed, scrape-kneed, little Zara think she had contracted AIDS? (I had no knowledge of HIV, so my brain went directly to AIDS.)
That's a good question. I'm glad you asked. It's been a boring day.
I thought I had AIDS from masturbating. That's right, kittens, masturbation gave me AIDS (in my head). I was heartbroken. I had only recently discovered masturbation (through the water jets of a pool because I know you pervs are curious), and it was like this crazy, mind-blowing, euphoric, yet confusing-as-fuck GIFT I deeply treasured. I didn't understand, but I didn't have to. I felt it.
I knew that it made my 75-pound body explode with pleasure. I knew once I completed a chapter of "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe" and pulled down the frail little string of my bedside lamp, it was all I wanted to do in the safe darkness of my bedroom. But, I still didn't know what the hell it was. Although, I was pretty sure it was connected to s-e-x. All girls have pretty amazing girl instincts, and my very wise girl guts were screaming, "This is SEXUAL, ZARA!" at the top of their young lungs.
The only trouble was, I didn't really know what sex was, either. I knew it was something adults did. I knew it was why my sister incessantly visited the tanning salon and wore crop tops. And I knew it was somehow connected to AIDS. I also knew that mom's dear friend had died of AIDS, and he got AIDS from sex.
Suddenly, all these variables clicked together and formed a terrifying equation: If masturbation was connected to sex, sex was connected to AIDS and AIDS was why mom's dear friend passed away, then certainly I had AIDS. The worst part was, I did it to myself.
When I look back on that god-awful childhood experience, my brain has the same three feelings: Holy shit sex education was total shit in the '90s, holy shit I was an ignorant twit and, most pressingly, holy shit I feel really sorry for my younger self.
Because while we look back on our childhood screwy fears and laugh now, it was VERY REAL AND VERY STRESSFUL at the time. I would lie awake at night, sweating, positive I had only six months to live. I was convinced my parents would forever be disappointed in me because I WAS SO SELFISH and had SUCH LITTLE SELF-CONTROL that I CHOSE TO DIE over resisting this ~sinful~ sexual temptation.
Somewhere along the line, I guess I had learned that female sexuality is SINFUL. And let me tell you, it wasn't from my parents. I was raised in a 100 percent Jesus-free household, by a British bikini model and an agnostic Manhattan liberal.
Eventually, I figured out that NO, I wasn't going DIE from masturbating. I slowly transitioned away from guilt and shame, and instead, I got really into the whole masturbation thing. I still am. I currently live in Masturbation Nation, baby, and I'm the president.
I have vibrators for days. I'm all about the orgasmic energy, and I think it's especially important to give yourself as many orgasms as possible. It's important to remember we don't need to rely on anyone else for spine-tingling, full-body pleasure. Nah, baby, who needs love when you can make yourself explode in orgasmic bliss every single night of your life without the pain of inevitable heartbreak?
Recently, I read an article in Medical Daily titled, "Ask An Expert: Is There Such A Thing As Masturbating Too Much?" In retrospect, I think I was subconsciously inclined to click the link to this article because my inner child is still really worried about adult Zara's incessant masturbating, and I'm constantly trying to ease her mind. (We all have a neurotic third grader living inside us, and sometimes we just have to indulge her, OK?)
Well, I'm happy to report I have good news for women across the world who are still battling their adolescent demons of masturbation shame. According to the ultimate sexpert, Claire Cavanah, co-founder of my favorite sex boutique Babeland and the co-author of "Moregasm: Babeland's Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex,"
As long you can still perform the major functions of your life, you're fine.
The third grader in me breathes yet another sigh of relief. It's always good to give her a little gold nugget of validation because she's really into validation.
Anyway, the issue isn't the act of masturbation. The issue is that, according to Medical Daily, if you're masturbating SO MUCH, it's usually a sign of some other shit going on in your little brain. Like depression. Or anxiety. Or sex addiction. Sounds like my kind of party! (Just kidding.)
If you're masturbating every second of your day to fill a dark, empty void (I may or may not be guilty of this), or if you get down and dirty with yourself so often that you can't hold down a part-time job, it's time to talk to a shrink.
But rest assured putting your perfectly manicured fingers inside yourself isn't going to give you a disease (so long as your hands are clean). Your issue with over-the-top masturbation isn't going to cause you physical harm. Get help if you think you need it, but know you're probably just fine.