A Foundation: Sex
So you’ve stumbled upon (or was aggressively directed to) this blog about sexual education for grown-ups. Awesome! This right here, is where you should start, because everything we talk about on this blog is dependent on foundational knowledge about sex, sexuality, and (sometimes) BDSM and kink. We have to walk before we can run, or in our case, we have to get comfortable with what sex is before we can talk about tying anyone up or setting up our Wants/Wills/Won'ts (more on that later).
So, what is sex?
Great question. Hard answer. Here’s what we know:
Clinically, sex is described as “a sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse”. Not exactly helpful there, Mr. Google, but alright. In your biology classes at school or in sex ed classes (if you were lucky enough to have them), you likely heard sex described like this—A penis goes into a vagina, the penis is thrust in and out quite a few times, and then the person with the penis ejaculates. If there’s a condom or other contraceptive in the way, nothing happens. If there isn’t a condom or contraceptive in the way, there’s a chance for sperm inside the ejaculate to travel up the vaginal canal and into the uterus, where it might impregnate an egg.
A great place to start and build off of but certainly not accurate. First of all, it insinuates that in order to have sex one must be heterosexual, or at the least, that one partner must have a vagina, and the other, a penis. Second, the focus is almost entirely on what the penis does—the penis enters the vagina, the penis thrusts, the penis ejaculates, and the vagina is doing nothing but existing as a place for the penis to go in to. Third, sex is described in one way, as PiV, or Penis-in-Vagina, leaving no room for oral, anal, hand-to-genital, hand-to-anus, or any other kind of sex that we know about. Forth, and here’s the real kicker, this explanation has NOTHING to do with the people having sex and has EVERYTHING to do with what their genitals are up to.
Let me say again, yuck.
So, lets step away from the clinical. It gave us something to go off of, but it didn’t give us the whole picture. Let’s try this:
How do people define sex?
Great question. The answer is even harder. Here’s what we know:
Some people view sex as a way to be physically intimate with another person, some view it as a way to be emotionally intimate, some view sex as impersonal entirely and more as a fun activity and a way to get their rocks off, and some might think sex is all about procreation and making babies. Some people view sex as a way towards empowerment of themselves or their partner(s), others as a simple or complex form of affection. Some people believe sex can only happen between a biological male and a biological woman, with a penis and a vagina only. Some believe sex can happen between people who both have penises or who both have vaginas or some mix-match. Some think sex can happen between two or more men, two or more women, two or more non-binary folks, etc. Some think sex can happen between three or more people, maybe a whole football team. Some think sex must be Penis-in-Vagina, some count anal penetration as sex, some count mouth-to-genitals as sex, some count fingering, some count dry-humping, and some count heavy make-outs. There are people who believe that an orgasm is necessary for sex, some believe every person involved must have orgasmed for it to count as sex, and some people don’t think orgasms are important at all. Some people think sex is all about the journey and not the destination.
None of these people are wrong, in fact, each of them is entirely right, which is where we get to the real meat-and-bones of what sex is.
Sex, and what it means, is entirely up to the people having it. It has very little to do with what those pesky genitals are up to at all, so long as people are using them.
If you believe that a steamy face-time call with your boss counted as sex, then you’re entirely right! If you believe that hot summer where you went a few rounds with the pool boy but neither of you actually came was sex, then congrats, you had sex! If you think that magical make-out session you had with your first girlfriend where you grinded on each other without taking any of your clothes off was sex, then boom! Sex!
As long as both (all) people involved were consenting and having a good time, and you decide to count it (either adding it to your body count, putting another notch in the belt, or just for posterity), then you had sex! It’s that easy.
Of course, you will find that most people will draw the line somewhere. Pretty much everyone agrees that genitalia or other various ‘private parts’ must be involved in some way, that there must be a sense of heightened arousal, and that all parties are invested and excited about what’s going on. Other than that, your imagination can run free about what it means to you, when to count it and when not to, and exactly how many people you can or want to add to your metaphorical or literal tally.
Remember to be always be safe, sane, and ask for consent with everything you do, whether it leads up to sex or not. If you want or need to, wear a condom or a dental damn, take birth control, make sure all your sexy bits are clean (and the rest of you while you’re at it), and drink some water before any play time. And if you want to know what your partner thinks about that sexy mutual masturbation session you had last Tuesday, and whether you want to count it as sex together, you should always feel comfortable asking.
Next time, we talk about sexuality. See you then!