Model and writer: @aylayuile
I discovered a very innocent, strange feeling in my body at a young age. A stirring, I suppose. I wasn’t quite sure how it worked or happened, but just sometimes it did. I went along with it, children are intuitive.
I think I have always wondered about my body and what it could do. As a half white, half Japanese girl I was a rarity in the suburbs of Japan. I was often likened to dolls and child movie stars - always about my looks and how I should be kept safe.
My mother had an odd experience of a woman telling her she thought her two year old daughter was sexy. My parents at times were on high alert. So from a very young age, I knew how eyes on me felt. How it caresses you with dark twisted energy.
Just around that time I had discovered that strange feeling, a late night porno on the cable channel we subscribed to had taped on after a movie. It wasn’t exactly an attractive sight, I felt a pang of that weird energy I felt from the looks I got from men - but I was intrigued. Why are they using their body like that? I was curious and I needed to know more.
In the sex ed class we had in year 5, I distinctively remember that the most shocking part of the whole 45 minute lesson before recess was that women got vaginal discharge and that it made a mess. No mention of sex, pleasure, insertion or stimulation. A watercolour illustration of a man and a woman holding a baby was used to fill the space instead of useful information.
I ceased the afternoons my mother was out to investigate. I looked to the only thing I knew about sex: pornography. I searched and searched for something that felt right, or looked like the right example. But at the same time, it magnetised a part of me. It was like an addictive force for an impressionable, imaginative young girl of 10 or 11.
This was my only clue about sex. Soon enough though, I got caught. In a panic I explained it as a series of spam ads, but from my mother’s reaction I learnt that it was a bad, shocking, taboo thing to do.
Though eventually, I also did find enjoyment in porn, especially erotica - written words are my thing I think. And sounds too.
However it took a tremendous journey of uncovering layers upon layers of myself, and the shame and conditioning that lay thick in-between them before I felt free of shame and self-doubt.
At this point I had moved to Sydney from Japan. I was in a much more sexually liberated environment. Where my peers in Japan, or where everyone in my life in Japan had such a fear of the topic, in the western side of the world it was everywhere.
After spending the first decade of my life, twisting and turning, feeling shame and confusion, trying to figure out a safe way to understand sex and self pleasure, it was a relief to be in a more open environment.
When I entered my teens I didn’t really know that masturbating was allowed. When boys talked about doing it, that was a cringe worthy but a funny and acceptable topic, we never spoke about girls masturbating, though.
Not even between just girls, why? Because even at that age, no one knew what masturbating meant for girls. Since I realised that what I was doing with my sex was exactly that, I was afraid that I might be perverted or irregular when it came to sex.
I didn’t even know what orgasms really meant. The sensation I felt was a combination of fragmented pleasure and scratching an itch. And still I didn’t know that I could find proper information about sex online.
I didn’t have a clue what to look up because I wasn’t sure women were supposed to masturbate. That we were allowed to speak of it - so I found clues in Cosmo and people’s stories but it wasn’t the right answer for me because I hadn't experienced it.
When I experienced or got an inkling of pleasure with someone else for the first time (but not the “first time”) that’s when I connected the dots. That my body is maybe actually meant to feel things, that touch was something I enjoyed. Touching and hearing sounds caused that stirring . I had no idea I could feel more than an itch.
When I figured out that I was better at self pleasure than anyone else who’d touched me, I felt myself become more powerful.
My parents quickly noticed a slight change in me, too. My dad tried to explain awkwardly or tried to ensure I knew the fundamentals of protection etc, and my mum also danced around it, never really saying anything. When they found out I was no longer a virgin - which was no big deal for me, personally - I was no longer a sweet girl.
For a few years I went back and forth from shame to curiosity, to shame and again. When it was at its curiosity phase, it was an important part of my mental health. I went through a major change, moving back from Sydney to Japan again.
I felt disconnected from my peers’ model of the world. I once had a conversation where my own friends looked at me with judgement when they found out that I had sex with my boyfriend. Those eyes that used to caress me as a child, again chased me down the streets and found me in every space I occupied. I began feeling completely disconnected from my surrounding, myself and who I was.
But feeling that slither of relief, that push of empowerment and that burst of energy you feel after connecting with yourself like that… that was medicine to me. I felt that I am the space in which I can be empowered. I can live feeling like this, I heard myself say. I felt less ashamed and more in touch with my instincts and my inner voice.
Letting that connection to myself lead me forward, eventually I broke through. I felt it everywhere - I couldn’t possibly forget that night.
One night alone in my first rented place, I had a night that began a bath, some spiked ice cream and a whole lot of self caring and loving. I was truly connected to my heart and my mind. As I prepared for sleep, I felt a stirring and I touched and listened to my own imagination speak. Breaking through and experienced my first orgasm, that all encompassing buzzing that shakes and awakes you. The feeling of completion I assumed I had felt before was no where near.
And with that awakening, fear began to fade. I was open to myself, to explore and to seek.
I still face trigger points of shame or other societal conditioning. But trusting in myself, that I am constantly seeking pleasure or joy in all that I do, whether that’s writing, eating, dancing - I keep that fire always alive.
To me, self pleasure is all encompassing. Similar to meditating and reading tarot cards - that’s a way to tap into my higher self and into the consciousness beyond and around me. If I dance I can tap into pleasure and pure joy and self love. If I touch myself I can also tap into those things and then some. A burst of physical energy caused by hormones and chemical reactions in my body.
What began as a secret, shameful addiction became a meditation, a ritual, a tool of communication, a guide to healing, a product of self love and care. Self pleasure is sacred and it can be and mean whatever you want it to be. It is fluid, it’s flowing, ever changing, transformative.
That’s the beauty of it.
That’s the beauty of you.