It’s been a while since I’ve talked penises. Raising a 12-year-old boy ensures they’re never very far from my reality. My son loves to talk about his penis and the fact that almost everything gives him an erection nowadays. Sometimes in the middle of the Victoria’s Secret commercial he’ll say, “See? I’m getting hard right now.” “Well, stop it,” I tell him.
He hasn’t gone through puberty yet, nor has he masturbated. How do I know this? Because he’s thrown out comments like, “I don’t think I ever want to masturbate,” to which I inwardly smirk and think, “Honey, as soon as you discover that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I’ll hardly see you anymore.” Which is fine. I actually can’t wait for him to start masturbating because when he’s tired of playing Xbox he drives me nuts.
“I’m bored,” is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me. “Read a book, clean your room, go outside…” None of these hold any appeal for him, but when the day comes when I can say, “Go masturbate then,” I’m certain the suggestion will be met with approval and glee.
I’ll admit there’s a precarious balance between being a “progressive” mother and a “prude.” It may sound like my son and I live a clothing-optional lifestyle and still shower together because we’re so open with each other, but trust me when I say half the time I’m crying, “I’m your mother! You shouldn’t be telling me these things!” But who else can he talk to about male bodily functions? “Go ask your father,” doesn’t apply here, and friends aren’t always a reliable (or healthy or realistic) option.
For as sexually open as I am, sometimes I am rendered speechless. Like when my son asked me how to masturbate. “Um, you’ll figure it out when the time comes,” I mumbled, praying he’d just drop it. He didn’t. “But like what do you do?” I stopped what I was doing and looked up. “You just kinda…you know…move your hand up and down and stuff.” Are you uncomfortable reading this? If yes, then imagine my discomfort in person. Yikes.
If I don’t answer his questions I’m terrified he’ll turn to the internet for information. A few months ago he wanted to impress a girl at school so he Googled “How to get a 12-year-old girl excited.” You can imagine what came up. So then we had to have the Porn talk. I gave him my best spiel about how porn creates unrealistic expectations about women and if he watched too much of it, eventually he wouldn’t be able to have sex with a real woman. Short of resorting to “Your penis will fall off if you watch too much porn,” I think he got the message, but come on—porn at your fingertips? A mere click away? What teenage boy is going to be able to resist the temptation? And it’s sad. It literally makes me want to cry, because I didn’t watch my first porn until I was 18, and it was a joke at that. I was living in Italy at the time, and my gay friend and girlfriend decided it would be a hoot to go to a porno theater to see a movie in Italian. Except that it ended up being in English with Italian subtitles, the floors were icky sticky, and a man sat down next to my girlfriend and began to masturbate, so we fled, laughing hysterically while wanting to throw up at the same time.
My next porn experience was in my early 20s right after the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee video came out. My gay friend (a pattern I seem to have with porn) came over and said, “We gotta watch this. I hear Tommy Lee’s cock is huge!” And it was. But we spent the whole time snickering and counting how many times Pammy gushed, “I love you, baby.”
Porn just wasn’t a reality while I was growing up like it is today. Now it’s an obsession. So I made my son promise he wouldn’t watch any until he was 15, the compromise being that I would buy him a nude magazine when he was ready. When he asked me for one, all these thoughts went through my head before I agreed. Thoughts like: “I guess Playboy wouldn’t be so bad, right? After all, I started looking at my dad’s collection when I was 8. Although that’s the reason I have such a fucked-up body image.” And, “As long as it’s not Penthouse or Oui (is Oui even still around?), both of which horrified the crap out of me when I was younger due to its extreme graphicness. Remember the Vanessa Williams scandal? How could one forget? And Madonna with the hairy armpits and pussy…cat.”
And then I had this thought: “Too bad there isn’t a magazine I can buy filled with pictures of teenage girls with various body types specifically for teenage boys to masturbate to,” which was immediately replaced by: “There are undoubtedly tons of them out there, but it’s freaking illegal to use underage girls in porn and Holy Hell, what was I thinking?”
Clearly I’m not, as my brain seems to be clouded with penises and porn.