Charlie doesn’t like when he’s confused. And when Charlie is confused by something, he makes it known.
He isn’t the mealy-mouthed type, in the least.
So when he and his friend, Sarah, met up for their weekly lunch date, she was hardly surprised when he shared something that had been plaguing his mind for quite some time.
“I don’t understand lesbian sex,” said Charlie, his candor unmitigated.
“What do you mean? What isn’t there to get? It’s all about the connection you have with your partner and making sure there is mutual satisfaction,” retorted Sarah (who happens to be a lesbian), in a slightly perplexed tone.
“I mean, I get that, but what goes in where? I mean head is cool and all, but it ain’t the ‘real thing.’ I don’t know, I guess I’ll just never get it,” Charlie conceded. He simply wasn’t buying into Sarah’s explanation.
Clearly, the two hold countervailing views of what should be classified as sex. If we take the objective route and consult Merriam-Webster, sex is defined as “sexually motivated phenomena or behavior.”
Um…thanks for nothing, Merriam-Webster. How about we dig a little bit deeper.
The next entry defines sex as “sexual intercourse.”
Ok, so what is “sexual intercourse”? Merriam-Webster lists two definitions:
1) Heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis; coitus.
2) Intercourse (as anal or oral intercourse) that does not involve the penetration of the vagina by the penis.
If we were to extract one of these definitions and put it in context (re: lesbian sex), the second listing is clearly the one that would be applicable in the case of Charlie and Sarah’s discussion, right? If so, why was Charlie even stumped in the first place? Answer: In Charlie’s mind (and arguably in the minds of most individuals), sex necessitates penile penetration—whether that refers to anal or vaginal penetration matters not. Now we understand why Charlie was confounded by the idea of sex between two women.
Is Charlie wrong in his view that sex is restricted only to acts where there is penile penetration? If his logic were to hold, he would also be reluctant to classify fellatio or cunnilingus as sex, as well. In doing so, has he relegated any sexual act (aside from vaginal or anal intercourse) as nothing more than foreplay?
It would seem so.
A 2011 study by The Journal of Sexual Medicine attempted to shed some light on some of the common sexual behaviors of gay and bisexual men. Aptly titled “Sexual Behaviors and Situational Characteristics of Most Recent Male-Partnered Sexual Event among Gay and Bisexually Identified Men in the United States,” the study found that “gay and bisexually identified men have a diverse sexual repertoire and that partnered sexual behaviors are not limited solely to acts of penile insertion.” Below are more detailed findings:
The most commonly reported behavior was kissing a partner on the mouth (74.5%), followed by oral sex (72.7%), and partnered masturbation (68.4%). Anal intercourse occurred among less than half of participants (37.2%) and was most common among men ages 18–24 (42.7%).[i]
While this is only a redacted set of data from a relatively small sample, the findings are still quite compelling. Obviously for a significant swath of respondents, oral sex and even mutual masturbation were performed much more routinely than anal intercourse.
So much for “the real thing.”
Do the results corroborate Sarah’s personal definition of sex? I’m inclined to say yes.
Now if Charlie personally feels as though sex sans anal penetration is dissatisfying, that is absolutely fine. We all know our bodies and what is pleasurable to us. However, if his behavior is dictated solely by what hebelieves is the protocol with regard to homosexual intercourse, I would implore that he reconsider his thoughts.
At the end of the day, our sex life if just that: ours. Sadly, I think many homosexuals are so fixated on delineating sex as nothing more than anal intercourse, simply because it is the closest parallel we can make to that of heterosexual intercourse. And that is, indeed, quite a slippery slope.
For if both parties are content and are coming (oh come on, I had to!) back for more, isn’t that what makes sex, sex?
Maybe Sarah was onto something, after all.