Marion (not her real name) is a 23-year-old PR professional in Bangalore.
“I had a Christian upbringing, and during evangelical retreats we heard loads of stories of young men who ‘went over to the dark side’ because of ‘excessive masturbation’.
Blind, skinny or mad
"In school my friends and I used to giggle over the health queries section in magazines like Seventeen, where confused young boys wrote in worried that they would become impotent if they didn’t stop jerking off.
"For me and most of my classmates masturbation sounded like a male problem. It wasn’t something I thought about, let alone discussed.
“And when I did find out about female masturbation I wasn’t really sure about the ‘how’ of it. I thought it involved putting something in your vagina. So I was curious about whether you could masturbate without losing your virginity. Because losing my virginity before marriage was out of the question.
"If my folks ever found out they would die with shame and if word got out about it then no one would consider me ‘respectable’ anymore. Anyway the premium on virginity bit is a cultural thing and I got over it soon enough. But the point is that I hadn’t even heard of the existence of the clitoris.
"Sex education was a totally unheard of thing and apart from references in Hollywood films I didn’t even know what it meant. Actually I did attend one unofficial sex-ed session in the first year of college where a 50-year-old nun told us that the best mode of birth control was abstinence.
"So apart from the Mills and Boons I was reading on the sly, the only other source of information about sex was a series of lectures about human reproduction in biology class. To her credit, the biology teacher did speak to us rather frankly about intercourse. But no one ever spoke about masturbation.
“After my accidental ‘discovery’ of masturbation I was racked with guilt. It wasn’t a religious thing anymore I just really wanted to be a ‘nice normal girl’. And nice girls didn’t play with themselves. Boy was I wrong!"
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