Bedroom Insider

A blog about relationships, intimacy and sex toys.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What Is “Sex”?

Cozy couple lying in bed under the sheets

When you think of the word “sex”, you might immediately think of putting a penis in a vagina (PIV sex). That’s how it was explained to us in our horrible cringe-worthy sex ed classes taught by our middle school gym teacher and that’s what we see most widely talked about. However, when you really think about it, sex is so much more than just inserting part A into part B.

Think about it. Is that all anyone does when they have sex? Probably not. After all, the possibilities for sexy activities are pretty much endless. Sure, you’ve got other penis-centered stuff like hand jobs or blowjobs, but what about all the other things? There’s cunnilingus and fingering and making out and butt stuff and kink and so many different kinds of sex toys just to name a few.

While we’re talking about different types of sex acts, why do we refer to activities that pleasure penises as “sex”, and activities that pleasure vulvas as “foreplay”? People who have vulvas usually require clitoris stimulation in order to reach orgasm, yet so many types of clit-focused sex, including cunnilingus and the use of vibrators, is reduced to foreplay: the seemingly second place activities leading up to the “main event” of PIV. Looking at it in this way, defining all sex as inserting part A into part B leaves out so much of vulva pleasure. It falls right into our weird culture that values women’s pleasure less than it values the pleasure of men.

And what about couples that don’t even HAVE a penis? Lesbian women have sex, and their sex is just as much sex as heterosexual couples’ sex (say that five times fast). This applies equally to people who may avoid penetrative sex for other reasons. This could be because of trauma, gender dysphoria (when someone feels uncomfortable with their body because of societal norms that say men have penises and women have vaginas), or simply personal taste. Defining sex as all the activities instead of just penis-in-vagina penetration means we get to include more identities and preferences in the conversation.

But even if we did take a look at a couple comprised of a man with a penis and woman with a vagina, there are so many reasons why these two people may not choose penetration. For example, what if he has difficulties getting or keeping an erection? What if she has vaginismus, a condition where the vagina’s muscles clamp down and refuse penetration? What if they feel too nervous about the possibility of pregnancy? What if they don’t have protection available? Broadening what “sex” means allows people who don’t fit the mold of “normal” (read: PIV) sex to feel more normal and valid.

Finally, expanding the definition of sex also means expanding the definition of safer sex. Everyone knows about condoms, but what about a dental dam (a piece of latex meant to be draped over the anus or vulva to prevent the spread of skin contact based STIs)? Or gloves? Or lube, which, by lubricating sensitive tissues, prevents microtears that could be sites for STI transmission? Safer sex is so much more than just condoms, and everyone’s sex deserves to be safer regardless of what activities are being performed.

Sex can be whatever you want it to be. It’s so much more than just putting one body part into another. It’s even more than body part combinations in general. Sex is about emotions, pleasure, exploration, safety, vulnerability, and so much more, and those feelings have no body parts. Summing the vast expanses of what sex means to people to one single act is erasing so many ways of expressing these emotions. So, let’s call sex what it is, people consensually giving themselves sexual pleasure, and leave out the specifics of their actions. We’re all just finding our own personal sources of pleasure, and isn’t that the point of sex after all?

By: Sammi
Follow on Twitter @Squeaky_Springs