I was in sixth grade when boys started to notice me. I specifically remember the two boys who were bold enough to touch my 11 year-old butt. "Yo, Ashleigh, I heard you suck a mean dick!" I remember one of the guys, Russell, saying to me during lunch one day. At that point I had never touched or sucked a penis in my life. I think he was going around saying it to a bunch of girls just to test us. I wasn't offended. I scrunched my face, rolled my eyes, and went on about my day. It didn't catch on around school or anything--it wasn't something he said repeatedly. He was just a young boy discovering sex, oblivious to the sexual harassment he was committing. I was oblivious too. I didn't realize that his behavior was inappropriate and punishable.
Mark, the other guy who got handsy with me, had a more subtle approach. Before I got on the school bus to go home one day, Mark softly palmed my butt. I was aroused. I don't remember what he said to me but I think we exchanged numbers that day. We started talking on the phone regularly and by the following school year we were sort of an item. I didn't like saying we were in a relationship because it freaked me out. I didn't want him to expect anything from me, and I don't mean sexually. I was actually more worried about the pressure of going out on dates, meeting each other's families, exchanging holiday/birthday gifts, etc. Even without an official title everyone knew what was up--classmates and teachers alike. He would fondle me in the hallways and after school, before I went to cheerleading practice, we'd go to his vacant house and mess around. We were young so we didn't dive into sex. We fooled around like kids do. We kissed, touched and groped a lot. When we weren't together we had phone sex. It was a fun, exploratory time in my life.
Near the end of seventh grade Mark gave me my first hickey. I went to the local fair with my friends one night and met him there. We went off by ourselves and ended up in the corner of my elementary school playground. We made out passionately. I felt my knees buckle as I leaned against the brick building. He nibbled on my neck tenderly at first, and then wildly. My stomach filled with butterflies and blood rushed to my clitorous. Am I in love?, I thought to myself. I definitely wasn't in love; my hormones were racing. That night I went home and saw the huge, reddish-purple bruise Mark stamped on my long-ass neck.
The next day I wore a shirt to school with my collar popped (not an unusual fashion statement in 2003). Despite my effort to conceal it, one of my teachers caught a glimpse of my neck tatt and glared at me with judgment. In the following days I used makeup as camouflage. The hickey shrunk but ironically my dad noticed it at its smallest. He called me out. I told him it was from a curling iron but he knew exactly what it was.
I didn't get in trouble. My parents sat me down and told me my body was a temple and I was not to let anyone take advantage of me. Before that they never talked to me about sex. It was too little too late. I already had developed ideas about the sexual woman I was becoming. When I was caught with another hickey in eighth grade my parents weren't as understanding. They made me quit the cheerleading team as punishment.
By the start of ninth grade I was still with Mark. I lost my virginity to him. I skipped choir rehearsal one morning before school and went to his house. After nearly two years of flirting with the idea of sex, we finally went all the way. I looked at us in his mirror and was amazed at the completed puzzle our two bodies formed. It was anti-climactic though. It didn't last long and I didn't get off. After that I thought sex was overrated. We eventually broke up and I started dating an older, more experienced guy a few months later. I started having sex with my new boyfriend regularly and my mom put me on birth control.
It doesn't freak me out that I had these sexual experiences so young. My development was premature but I never felt like I was forced or in danger. I do wish my parents would've talked openly about sex when I was younger, but I know they meant well. I think most parents are disturbed by the idea of their children being sexual and so they shy away from the conversation. That's a dangerous thing to do. If sex talk is limited to the sex-ed school provides, only the surface is being scratched. It's a half-ass message about what it means to be sexual. By not communicating with your child about sex you're leaving him/her in the wild to fend for himself. The more open parents are about something, the less taboo and tempting it seems.
I don't know if my early experiences have anything to do with the hyper-sexual adult I've become, but I'm okay with how things have turned out for me.