Sunday, January 14, 2007

Childhood sexuality

I've been reading Billy Bragg's lovely "Progressive Patriot" which has been making me very, very homesick for Essex. The work is partly autobiographical and he describes the beginnings of his sexual awakening in the back seat of the coach on a school trip to France. This got me thinking about defining moments, and whether they are the best way to understand these kinds of changes.

Was there a moment in my childhood when a light bulb turned on and... well, I'll leave that sentence unfinished for the benefit of those with a weak stomach.

I remember inviting [girl's name withheld] to my birthday party (around the sixth I think). This turned out to be shocking as I was the first in my class to invite a gggiiirrrrrllll over to my house; although, as with many radical acts, it soon set a positive trend and everyone was at it before long.

I'm absolutely certain there was an unseen sexual element to my invitation, although I would not have been thinking beyond a light snog or perhaps even a spot of hand holding.

It was around this time that I fou
nd myself going through a constant stream of mock weddings with a number of the girls I knew through school, the neighborhood and family friends. One particularly galling occasion I'd managed to land the coveted position of Robin Hood one play time. It turned out that this didn't involve running, fighting and yelling "this way men" as I'd hoped - but an excruciatingly long marriage service with Maid Marion by Friar Tuck, whilst my lads were off rough housing.

Do you know what, I'm still slightly annoyed by that. Thankfully by my late twenties the requests to play marriage had completely dried up.

What I think this example shows is that even at a young age I was not adverse to hand holding, kissing the bride and generally being seen to hang around with girls... and I'm fairly sure my motives were not always so innocent - although in an innocent way.

God, I had a gut churning crush on [teacher's name] which at a later age, to my discomfort, I discovered was reciprocated. What a terrible moment to find new conflicting emotions piled up on already conflicted feelings.

I remember very well the mucky magazines my mate Kev had "found" and passed round the class. As forbidden material they were of course impossible to resist and I think they were probably very useful, serving as alternative biology/geography classes.

Whether this effected my understanding of female sexuality I'm not sure. Those young women in my teenage years that took pity on me neither looked nor acted like the women in Kev's magazines, nor did I want them to - even secretly. I was simply grateful for their generosity of spirit and unfortunate myopia.

Whether there was a moment when this nascent sexuality became fully formed and complete or, as I suspect, the process is never quite complete I'm unsure. Whilst it's clear I had sexual feelings as a child these were not the terrible all consuming passions of later life - and although they contained neither the intensity, depth nor carnality of adult life they were very real and important to me at the time.


Louisefeminista said...

Well, I remember at the wonderful (hint of sarcasm here) CofE school I attended as a kid there was an incident where other kids (I was around 6 or 7 at the time) were playing "kiss chase" and I was not involved in the game.

This boy came running up to me and kissed me. This annoyed me enormously as I didn't want to be kissed so I thumped him.

He went blubbing to the teacher (what was interesting is that he was considered the "hard nut" in the class)who told me off as she said I should have let him kiss me and be done with. Even if I didn't want to be kissed!

I remember it kinda vividly as I was confused by what she said. I always wonder if that's when I identified my first ideas around feminism....

Anonymous said...

Wow, kiss chase, those were the days. Sadly when I was v young at school it quickly degenerated into knicker-chase and then ... (ahem), bum chase. ..

OMG can't believe I've admitted that on a public forum.

Jim Jepps said...

Kiss chase... mmmmm... but only for the consenting

I don't even want to know what bum chase is. Is that a northern thing?

Anonymous said...

Midlands dear boy!

I was only 4 or 5 at the time.