Martina from Switzerland
Switzerland is really small so the countryside and city aren’t far away from one another. We lived in the city but had a stable with horses and other animals in the country about half an hour away so we would spend every weekend out there.
Both of my parents worked with animals as well so we always had a lot at home.And what do animals do? They reproduce. My brother and I learned a lot about sex and reproduction just by watching the animals.
My parents were also really open with us. Whatever we wanted to know, they would tell us. They would always tell us the truth but in a way that we would understand it. We were open-minded kids and wanted to know everything, as most kids do.
I once saw a sheep give birth and I realized that it must really be horrible so I told my mom that I never wanted to have children. She was really surprised that I made that connection even though I was so young.
We also had Icelandic ponies. My mom used to breed them so she took pictures of the ponies having sex. My brother and I loved these pictures, this pony porn. We had these plastic boxes that you could put photos in, like an album and whenever we could, we would put the pictures of the horses having sex on the cover. We thought it was funny.
My brother and I were also super open with each other. It was awesome having a brother who is a couple of years older because he knew all of these things that I didn’t.
Once my brother even got a home shopping catalogue from this sex shop called Beate Uhse. He brought it home and let me look at it with him. I was particularly fascinated by the dolphin shaped vibrators. Our favorite though was one shaped like a banana called Billy Bongo. We had so much fun with Billy Bongo just because it was a fucking banana and it had such a funny name. There were also penis shaped ones, so I think we figured out what they were and what they were used for.
Out at our place in the country, we had two neighbor boys who were around my brother’s age. Sooner or later, we ended up in the barn playing doctor games. It was a bit on me since I was the only girl but it was really fun. It was all very playful. The two neighbor boys were more active and my brother was the observer because you still have this brother sister thing, we knew somehow it was forbidden. Brothers and sisters, they shouldn’t mingle. We might have learned that from the animals as well; you can’t inbreed animals, it’s really bad.
Just a bit after this happened; I was playing in the garden with a really good friend of mine. There was a huge table outside and we put a cloth and towels over it and hid under the table. We were also looking at each other like, “ohh what do you have there?” Anybody could have easily caught us. It was really arousing.
I think because my brother and I were so open with our parents and with each other, we knew more than other children in our age group. This actually left my dad in an awkward situation once.
My mom wanted to buy this American Quarter Horse. The man who imported it from the United States lived in Germany so the two of us went on a road trip. The owner of the horse was this really stereotypical, old-school farmer. He was going around yelling “bumsen” all of the time, which is like a slightly less vulgar way of saying fucking.
I went back to kindergarten the next week and had all of these new words that I picked up and of course, I was saying them every chance I could. My kindergarten teacher was rightfully surprised and wondered why this little girl was talking about fucking. She approached my mom and asked her if everything was all right at home. What about my dad? Was he doing anything inappropriate?
Of course my mom then approached me about this.
After clarifying that there wasn’t anything weird going on with my dad, my mom bought me all of these coloring books with different stories about how you are allowed to say no whenever something goes too far. We went through the book together but it was just awkward.
At least I learned I probably shouldn’t use those words.
I was embarrassed talking about this with my mom but we had some good discussions. Growing up, we were constantly told to be safe and not go with anyone we didn’t know, even if they offered us candy or anything like that.
In Switzerland during the 90s there was a lot of media attention to abducted and abused children. I don’t actually know if there were more abducted children in the 90s or if it was just that it was a big media story.
When I was really young my cousin, who was either 15 or 16 and lived in Germany, was abducted and killed not far from her home. I only met her a few times and I was so young that it wasn’t a really big thing for me. It really affected my mom though. It was her sister’s child and she had much more of a connection with her.
After that, my mom was a lot more careful. She told us to watch out and to always say no, always say stop if you don’t want something. Never be stupid. I was always pretty careful, even when I got older. I would always think do I want to do this or not?
Overall I think Switzerland is quite safe though.
Switzerland is also quite liberal and not very religious. There are religious people but it depends on the area. Zurich is very liberal for example but still there were some kids in my class who were a part of these weird religious constellations. There was a guy named Timόtheos, the Greek version of Timothy, which means “in God’s honor.” We had Latin together and in the textbooks there were always pictures of Romans with very nice (and often naked) bodies. Whenever we started a new chapter, he would go through the book, trying to look as little as humanly possible and put Post-It notes over all of the pictures that had penises and boobs.
We also had a couple ICF (International Christian Fellowship) members in our school. It’s one of these very fundamentalist modern churches. They organize camps and concerts; it’s very young, very cool. What they teach though is really awful. Things like that homosexuality is evil and if you’re gay you’re possessed by the devil. You couldn’t see it because they were really cool, they went to snowboard camps in winter, they had their dancing class and all of their cool friends. But when it came to sexuality and all that, they were really conservative.
One of my good friends growing up was one of these ICF girls but she was really open and very tolerant towards other people and their opinions. We had great discussions about relationships and stuff like that. I think she was an interesting person because she was so open and a scientific person somehow but still had this other part of her.
Her family was also really nice and they really liked me. Whenever I spent the night, her mom would always tell me, “God bless you.” One night her brother was playing at some Battle of the Bands and it was a metal band. When we got home, her mom kept saying,
“I felt the demons there, I felt the demons there!”
Well yeah… it was a metal show…