Childhood Sexuality

Mary Cassat, Oval Mirror           Child doused with water
"At the tender age of 5, I found the idea of a boyfriend very appealing.  We experimented with kissing on several occasions; however the idea formed, we were sure we were in love.  When I was 7 or 8, he asked me to marry him.   I was overjoyed and really believed that we would marry when we 'grew up.'"

"It was at the age of 5 that I, along with my three friends who were sisters and lived next door, first viewed the genitals of a boy.  They had a male cousin who came to visit and we all ended up behind the furnace playing doctor.  No matter what he would say his symptoms were, we were so fascinated with his penis  that it was always the center of our examinations.  I remember giggling as I punched it and as I dunked it in some red food-colored water that we were using for medicine.  This seemed to give him great enjoyment.  One girl put hand lotion and a bandage on his penis and in the process he had an erection.  We asked him to do it again but there was no such luck.  He suddenly felt embarrassed and offended and said he didn't want to play anymore."

"During the sixth grade, whenever we stayed overnight we slept in the same bed.  We began experimenting and fondling each others' breasts.  We tested for size and who could feel the other out the best.  We never thought we were 'queer'--we were trying to find out what it would be like if a guy did this to us."

"Sixth grade finally rolled around and I was in the 'in group.'  We all had to have a boyfriend, so I got one.  My girlfriends began to have boy-girl parties on weekend nights.  I just hated going to them.  My boyfriend always wanted to kiss.  I pretended that I liked it, but I really wanted to throw up all over him.  It just grossed me out.  The guilt feelings ran really high.  I was afraid my parents would find out, and I lived in fear."

Reminiscences of childhood cited in Floyd M. Martinson, The Sexual Life of Children. 1994.