Girl Crush: Confessions of a Catholic Schoolgirl with Amber Discko
Amber Discko is the founder of Femsplain. Ok, that’s enough bio, you get the idea, moving right along. Femsplain is an amazing community (because it’s now so much more than just a website) of women of all kinds who are passionate about sharing and hearing stories that promote respect and openness. It’s a family. And Amber is the mom.
When I was a child I prayed each night to God, asking him to forgive my sin. The sin in question? Masturbation.
I attended Catholic elementary through middle school, which meant in addition to learning long division and book reports, we were also taught about the miracles of Jesus. In 5th grade we were taught something very different.
“Alright class, I need all the boys to stand up and come with me. Girls stay here and I’ll be right back,” the teacher said. Out went all the boys and in came the massive TV on wheels. “Alright, today we’re talking about becoming a woman and other similar topics. Please pay attention and save your questions till the end of the movie.” By the time it had finished I had learned about menstruation, sex (and why to wait till marriage), pregnancy (and how abortion is never an option) and how masturbation was a sin. This was a Catholic school, remember? The lights flicked backed on and every girl in that room had their red faces turned down towards their desk. “Any questions?” the teacher asked. There weren’t any.
I was so ashamed. Pleasuring myself was something I really enjoyed and now I find out I’m going to hell for it? WTH(eck) God?!?! The way it was described to me was basically the way it’s described when I search, “does the catholic church think masturbation is a sin” “The Catholic teaching on masturbation says that masturbation is always morally wrong. Sex is intended to be both an expression of love for your spouse, and a beautiful means of procreation. If you’re not married, you should abstain from sexual activity.” So the short answer is, very yes.
I left school crying, and that night before I went to sleep I prayed.
“Dear God, Are you there God? It’s me, Amber. I’m sorry for touching myself last night. I promise, that was the last time. Please Lord Jesus, forgive me. P.S. God? Why did you make it so it feels so good? Is this what it felt like when Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the Apple? In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen.”
At school the next day we were coincidentally all told that we were going to confession. It was bad enough I now had massive guilt after touching myself but now I had to tell an old man in order to absolve my sin? Pretty messed up if you ask me. I was conflicted in what I should tell the priest, or if I should even tell him at all. When it was finally my turn he said that whatever I confessed would be kept in confidence, so I decided to tell him. The “sin” came pouring out and once I started confessing I couldn’t stop. Not a word was said by him the entire time but eventually he cleared his throat and told me to leave and do 20 hail marys.
I didn’t actually stop after that day and eventually when I had a choice I left the church. As a young adult who was both closeted and very confused, being part of a faith that did not allow masturbation or more importantly welcome LGBTQA+ identifying people didn’t sit well with me. It took a lot of time, and learning of self love, but the more I allowed myself to be open, the less shame I felt. Now I consider it to be a part of self care. After all, pleasuring yourself is just another way of loving yourself.