The first time I saw a penis I was under the age of 10. Like many other bad ass kids our age, my cousins and I were at the peak of our physical curiosity, and were determined to know why we were so different after all. A distant relative around my age was visiting from Mississippi and he had agreed to show me exactly what his "thing" looked like. As he pulled down his child-sized briefs, I thought: Wow. That's f*cking terrible.
In my mind, I compared his tiny protruding member to earthworms, vienna sausages, and everything else under the sun that made me gag, and decided to put an end to these unfortunate moments of exploration of the male body indefinitely.
As I grew older, that feeling stuck with me. When I was 13, I became aware of my own sexual feelings. Around that time, I had my first boyfriend and actually touched a penis for the first time. The image of an unruly earthworm vienna sausage monster played over and over in my mind. It was then that I realized that I was disgusted by male anatomy and made a choice to repress my own sexuality until I had the courage to overcome my fear of dicks.
This repression led to years of mismanaged emotions and sexual frustration that all seemed to disappear when I stroked the tiny button that rested at the top of my vagina. Discovering the power of masturbation liberated me and saved me from a number of potentially unsatisfactory suitors.
This same power helps many women, especially ones with high libidos, maintain abstinence and avoid seeking pleasure from anyone but themselves. This same power is one that Jada Pinkett-Smith recently revealed she was given by her grandmother at only 9 years old.
In this week's episode of Red Table Talk, we get to hear three generations of women talk about their very different experiences with sexual exploration. In the episode, Jada opened up about how her grandmother teaching her about masturbation at an early age taught her the importance of not depending on a man. She told her 17-year-old daughter Willow:
"We, as women, have been trained that women aren't supposed to enjoy sex. Sex is not for women, sex is for men, pleasure is for men - and honestly I think that's why so many women that I know have never had orgasms. I think by your age I gave myself multiples first. Multiple orgasms. Yep, I did."
Jada mentioned that at a point, she may have even appreciated her grandmother's life lesson a little too much.
"I was really into it at one point just because I was in an exploration stage. And I was abstaining from men. And I actually think I went through kind of an addiction, too, with it. And then one day, I was like, 'Enough. You're having five orgasms a day.'"
I've been there Jada. Last week, I've been there. Being able to create a world of pleasure by your damn self is an empowering feeling. She shared that her grandmother's lesson was less about sexual pleasure, and more about independence:
"My grandmother taught me about self-pleasuring because she wanted me to know that that pleasure was from me. She didn't want me to fall into the hands of a man, and if he gave me pleasure, to think that that was him. And she taught me at 9!"
Jada's confession was news to her mother, who said that the same woman who taught a young Jada about sexual exploration was very strict during her own upbringing. Jada's mother, Adrienne Pinkett explained:
"I had none of that. I had none of what Jada had. Her teaching to me was 'boy are dirty', 'dont let them put your tongues in your mouth'."
"Everything was very negative point of view to scare me."
She reiterated Jada's point that we as women, especially women of color, are programmed to believed that our sexuality is something to be ashamed of. Watching this episode was refreshing because it proves that we're moving into an age where sexual liberation for women no longer has to be a taboo conversation.
I am proud to say, I have overcome my fear of dicks, but I still choose masturbation over meaningless sex any day. I understand that any pleasure in the world that I seek, I can discover within myself. Watching three generations of women discuss their very different experiences with sexual exploration helped me put my own into perspective.
Our experiences may be different, but black girls orgasm too. And it doesn't always have to be at the hands of a man. Watch the full episode below.