Katerina from Germany
I grew up in the southwest of Germany, in a pretty small village that is well connected to the city. When I was older, I always went to the city for the club or the cinema but my childhood was spent in a house with a garden right next to the forest. It was super beautiful.
Neither sexuality nor emotions existed in my family. I don’t think I’ve even seen my parents touch in a mutually appreciative way. My father is super introverted and my mother, in German you would call it übergriffig, kind of intrusive or overbearing. As a kid, I could always ask questions about knowledge or how the world works, but sex and emotions were not topics up for discussion.
I was lucky that I have a sister who is ten years older than me. She was born in ’63 so she was quite a hippie. She had one of these 70’s sex books lying around, which I thought was super interesting. Whenever I had time alone at home, I would look at it. Of course, I would never talk about it though, I was so shy; I had no clue how to deal with it. I probably could have asked her but I just didn’t.
The only person I felt I could talk to about sex when I was really young was a friend of mine in primary school. He was the first person who told me about what sex was when we were eight. It was pretty clear that he was gay, even if we didn’t really know what homosexuality was at the time. We would play together a lot and do all sorts of things but it never moved into being sexual between the two of us. One of our favorite games was with these dolls. We didn’t like Barbies because they only had the weird genital mound for both male and female. There were another kind of dolls though that had a plastic molded penis or a slit. We thought these ones were much more interesting.
We built bordels for them, something between a slave camp and a harem and we built whole stories around them. There was this whole SM thing going on with needles and shaving their heads. There was always an evil boss, I think mostly it was a woman who held them in prison and forced them to do things. My friend and I were both always frustrated by Barbies and didn’t like them so we tried to make it more interesting. Later my friend and I decided that we wanted to have a sex club when we were grown up and design fashion for it. I don’t know where we came up with this idea but we started drawing out all of these ideas.
Then there was my first pornography from this car drivers club (ADAC) magazine. In the back of the magazine you always had ads for things like holiday parks. In these ads, there were often women with bare breasts because it was FKK camping (FKK or Frei Korper Kulture/Free Body Culture is a common concept in Germany embracing nudity. Many of the beaches and camping grounds in Germany are either clothing optional or full nude). These ads completely fascinated me and I was always hoping to find more. There were a bunch of other really weird magazines as well that were not really porn, but they were really sleazy. Those weren’t as interesting.
I never got any sex ed in school and what I did get was quite awkward. Most of what I learned was in biology class, when we were already mid-puberty. We had a male biology teacher, and while we liked him quite a lot, he was also kind of frustrated, lazy, and had kind of given up on teaching. The sex ed was super functional, really just what happens biologically, that’s it. And of course, there was much more detail on the male part than the female part. There was no information about pleasure, just purely technical- what happens with your body when you go through puberty and what sex is.
Not only was my relationship with sex and sexuality strained because of my family and upbringing, but to make it worse, I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a small German town as a redhead. At the time, and I think still now, there was a huge stereotype about redheads being hot in bed. I was super shy and I always wanted to vanish but I would always get a huge amount of unwanted attention.
One example of this is that when I was a kid I went to this local carnival. My mom made me this beautiful dress and I was so proud. It was this mini Charleston dress with fishnet stalkings and a feather boa. I was maybe seven or eight. Then there were these three boys, probably they weren’t old, maybe fourteen or fifteen, but for me they were super big. They pressed me against the wall and put their hands on my pussy. I was so embarrassed that all I wanted to do was disappear. I didn’t talk to my parents about it, I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I just ate it all up and over time, let it lead me to so many completely fucked up relationships.
People would often say to me, “show us, are you a real redhead” Or, “I am sure you are good in bed.” I always completely blocked that off and tried as hard as I could to always just be one of the boys. As a redhead, you stand out and people like to press you and I couldn’t deal with that. I still notice it today, when someone tells me “I love your hair I am like ehhh, yeah ok. I had fifteen years where I dyed my hair just because I was so fed up. Maybe by now times have changed but for some people, it’s still a signal.
There was this ad a few years back actually, I remember biking past it and I stopped and actually had to cycle back because I couldn’t believe it. It was this big wall, I don’t remember anymore what the commercial was for but it was painted completely black with a burning matchstick. It’s so cliché and so infuriating. That’s one of the things that you are called, a matchstick. Then it said:
96% of German men think that redheads are better in bed though 90 some percent have never slept with one or met one
I think until 38 or 40 sex was really frustrating and also my relationships because we didn’t know how to talk about sex. It was something that we shied away from. Then I came to Berlin and started using OKCupid and I have no idea what got into me, but I started very aggressively exploring everything that I could get my hands on.