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Katie Schwartz Headshot

You Know You're a Girl When

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When I ask my girlfriends about their firsts (sexually speaking) like me, they remember. Oh, those tweener years: Stolen glances led to brief flirtations, holding hands beget socially awkward relationships.

The first boy who held my hand was "David." For two weeks one summer we fell in tweenage love. To this day, he remains one of the loveliest boys I've ever met. We were inseparable from dawn until dusk. At sunset, we would share a lawn chair and talk. After a few days, he scooped my hand in his. My skin wanted to leap off of me and fling itself around his body. David was unlike any boy our age I'd ever known; he treated me with respect and kindness, in words and actions.

One morning, after two weeks, he disappeared. I asked his grandmother where he was and vaguely remember a forlorn, almost defeated look in her eyes. While closing the door behind her, she said his parents took him back. Whispers surfaced about them physically abusing him. This time they promised it would stop. I knew in that moment, I would never see him again. For a while I was heartbroken. Still, I ruminate about what became of him and hope that his parents didn't drain the kindness from his soul and the pulse from his life.

My first kiss wasn't decadent like holding hands with "David". No, that was a shame lavosh wrapped around pimiento olives, cream cheese, pastrami and pancetta, cloaked in a kangaroo pouch and served to a herd of famished, piranha-toothed gnomes, mercilessly scratching the crabs from their loins in a North Korean prison. You get the idea.

The first time I got felt up, well, that's a stunning yarn. When I was ten, my parents took me to a breast surgeon fearing that I had breast cancer. Turns out I was developing past a training bra and into an "A" cup. But not for long. At twelve, I was teetering between a "B" and "C." Technically, the surgeon was the first time I was felt up. Unfortunately, it wasn't memorable. But my grandfather feeling me up, NOW THAT WAS MEMORABLE.

Anyway.

That experience fucked with my head. For many years, I deliberated why my big breasts were good enough to fondle, yet didn't equate to an attractive enough physique to fuck. I genuinely thought my smaller breasted cousins might be sexier and more doable than my breasty self. If that were the case, would it mean I was doomed to a sexless life, only being felt up? Questions about my sexual future remained in a vortex of fear and curiosity and self loathing (about the boobsie twins).

At fourteen, after putting my bra on, I'd wrap Ace bandages around my rack. By fifteen, I wanted a breast reduction. At sixteen, a guy I was dating shoved his hand down my pants. Holy shit, I thought, maybe I am fuckable! Regrettably, at the time, to him I was only finger-bangable. Oh well, at least I had new conundrums to stew in.

When a man did want to fuck me, finally, all I could think about was the time my grandfather felt me up and why I was unfuckable to him. While that sounds insane on too many inexplicable levels, it was abundantly real to me. Was it a matter of taste? Did I have limited sex appeal? Without revealing what happened, I asked him why he wanted to fuck me (not my grandfather, the guy). His response at the time was fascinating, although in hindsight it was pretty generic: he just wanted to get in my pants and said, "I like you. We've been dating for a while and I want to be close to you."

So, people fuck to achieve a level of closeness? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!

Years later, I realized that I didn't agree with his philosophy about sex. Eventually, sexually, I came into my own. I found my inner sluttiness and loved my sex life without guilt or reservation. (Sidebar: I really hope my parents aren't reading this.)

For unrelated issues, during a session with my psychiatrist, my experience being felt up surfaced. OH MY GOD, we fought like pigeons on a playground. His insistence that I was molested was met with fierce defiance and persistence that I was felt up. The two were worlds apart. Why the fuck couldn't he see that?! Man, it took, I don't remember how long for me to entertain his perspective. Entertain, not agree.

Mostly what I gleaned from being felt up by my grandfather was multi-fold. Unknowingly, I was hyper-focused, bordering on obsessed with the fact that I was a girl. However, eventually, I found my way and came into my own as a whole person. That "beat" in my life didn't define my sexual future. Sure, it impacted the framework for a couple of years, but not enough to destroy me. Believe it or not, I regard myself as lucky. From time to time, I think about how my sexual and life trajectory would have been impacted if he felt my lady parts or took my virginity.

Often, I worry about how many of us girls realize we're girls because someone fondled us. Or worse...that and having met hundreds of women in my life, I wonder if I'll ever meet a woman who wasn't sexually interrupted.