What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Questions and discussion about sex and sexuality in political or community beliefs, principles, actions, policies, experiences, messages and media.
Heather
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What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Heather » Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:50 pm

For those of you to whom phrases like "actual sex" or "real sex" mean something -- and it's probably many of you, as we've had LOADS of users bring either or both into discussions with us -- what impact do you feel like that kind of framework has on your sexual lives, choices, and how you think about sex and sexuality?

As a sex educator, they're problematic for me. I rarely know what someone means when they say that, and even when I suspect they mean penis-in-vagina intercourse, as a lot of people who use those phrases use them to mean that, they're often used when people are asking for information about things they did, but are only telling me what they have NOT done is a really vague way. I feel like that often sets me up to have to ask a bunch of questions about what someone did do that might feel invasive, or like I have to argue about what is or isn't sex when, in sexology and sexual health, sex that isn't intercourse is also sex and is just as real or actual. That gets extra thorny when people have cultural or community values where saying they have been part of sex is super-loaded. Plus, only making the kind of sex that can create a pregnancy "real" presents sexuality as only or mostly being about reproduction, which we know just isn't true for the vast majority of people.

In this field, this is how we'll typically define sex: What's Sex?

I also feel like I see frameworks like this setting people up to do sexual things they don't feel great about, or in risky ways, because they have divided sex into "real" sex and not-sex, and what's in the not-sex group often presents the same or similar risks, stresses, issues or experiences as what's being called "actual" sex. It seems to confuse some people having conflicting feelings about what kinds of sex they are having, because they feel like they SHOULD be okay with sex that isn't "real." And of course, because all kinds of sex are real, it's no surprise people who don't feel okay about having sex don't feel okay about having sex of many kinds, not just one kind.

On a more personal or political note, as someone who both grew up knowing very early on I was queer, and having a sexual life that both wasn't heterosexual, but also where my sexual experiences even with same sex partners often involved a lot of sex that isn't often put in this frame of "real," it's really problematic for me. Calling all other kinds of sex "foreplay" pretty much does the same thing: it calls what's sex for plenty of people not-sex. The idea that only intercourse is "real" -- whether someone intends this or not, and I think it most often isn't intended -- basically says that only the most heteronormative kind of sex is "real," and the kinds of sex queer people have more frequently isn't. Too, it also makes it so sex isn't real if there isn't a penis involved -- and that what makes sex real, apparently, is only a penis -- which obviously also brings sexism into the mix, again, even if that's not someone's intent. And of course, it dismisses the sexual lives of more people than not, putting a whole bunch of our sex lives into this place where it doesn't acknowledge so many of our experiences with sex and sexuality.

But I also get, especially for young people, and especially for young, straight women (or heck, just young women), how loaded it is to say you've had sex, and how some people might want to do all they can to call as many sexual things not-sex as possible to try and avoid stigma or slut-shaming, or even just to try and avoid inherited or learned guilt about sex (even though, in practice, the guilt still seems to show up). And I certainly get how many people have been taught that only intercourse is sex, and anything or everything else is...I don't know what, but not sex.

So, how do you feel about all of this? And if these are frameworks you now use or have used, how do you feel about them? Do you feel like they benefit or help you, and if so, how? I'm curious. Too, how do you square this kind of framework with the realities of people's sexual lives and the fact that a lot of the sex people have, enjoy, and know to be sex isn't "counted" with these kinds of frameworks?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Sunshine » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:01 am

You guys really ask the most interesting questions around here...

While my brain fully agrees with the definition of sex you linked to above, Heather, I know that instinctively, I do feel that only intercourse is "full sex". Like, when my partner and I are being sexual together and I'm not feeling like anything being put inside me on that occasion, I am apologetic about it and use expressions like "sorry, but I'd only like to fool around tonight." Then after five minutes, I usually apologize again. I have only just realized this and am a bit appalled right now.

I didn't consider myself "not a virgin" any more until I had had PIV intercourse, but the funny thing about that is I can't remember our first time. At all. I also don't know which of our early sexual experiences to call "the first time". The first time we tried, but couldn't get it in and I wondered if maybe my anatomy was wrong or something? The first time we could get it in but it hurt like hell and I broke the experiment off after ten seconds? The first time it didn't hurt any more? The first time I actually liked it? The first time he actually had an orgasm while inside me? The first time I had an orgasm while he was inside me? Also, when and how exactly did all these things happen?
Because I know they did, but my memories are very vague. I know we had manual sex long before PIV intercourse and I liked it from the start (still do... and I am definitely here to tell anyone who might still be wondering that while a penis can be a great thing to have around in the bedroom, you can definitely also have the most awesome, fulfilling and very real sex without it!)

What makes all this even weirder, come to think about it, is that I have never thought of being a virgin as in any way important or significant and I cannot remember not being sexual. Nobody educated me on masturbation before I figured it out for myself, it was just always part of me being in my body, like eating, drinking and sleeping and if I was as much in touch and okay with my body around other basic needs as I am about sexual issues, then I'd be a much, much healthier and happier person.

So yeah, I get what people mean when they talk about "real sex" or "actual sex" and yes, I have thought that way myself. And no, I can't say it's been helpful at all.

When I next see my partner, I have to ask him what he thinks about all this. I'd like to do so right now, but somehow, it doesn't seem like the kind of thing to discuss over the phone (although it'd be just like me to ring up in the middle of the night: "hey, darling! So, what do you think makes sex real?" :-D)

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby PishPosh997 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:33 am

I have always thought that any type of sex is real. The reason is because giving oral sex is my favorite. I don’t feel comfortable considering what I like the most as “not real sex.”

I have struggled with people saying that real sex is only Piv. They’re entitled to their opinion, but it doesn’t register in my brain. I tend to be more attracted to partners who are on board with my sexual preferences.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Mo » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:55 pm

I really appreciate the bigger-picture approach to sex than just focusing on piv. For one thing, piv sex hasn't even been possible in some sexual relationships I've been in, but we certainly had sex anyway! And it was great and didn't leave us thinking "oh no, that felt unfulfilling because of our particular genital configuration" when we were done.

I agree, Hellocupcake, that it seems weird to have the kind of sex you like the most not "count" as sex in someone's mind. I feel like holding up piv intercourse as the ultimate, real, or best kind of sex sets up a situation where people who don't enjoy it feel like there's something wrong with them, or feel pressure to have it even if they aren't super into it in order to have a serious sexual relationship.
I'd love to see greater acceptance of a model of sex that allows for whatever types of sex people enjoy without saying a certain kind is better than the others.

I admit that I have a particular frustration with the "real sex = intercourse" line of thinking: I had a partner in college make an excuse for cheating on me by saying "we hadn't had sex yet and I was frustrated" when we'd been having plenty of sex (that he was enjoying/benefiting from more than I was) before that point, just not intercourse. It was pretty infuriating to be told that!

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby bikinksterboy » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:08 am

since I first became aware of kinds of sex other than intercourse I've always sort of thought "yeah, that's just another kind of sex." it just made sense to me. I suppose I have still taken some things to be "foreplay" but I don't lump foreplay activities like manual, making out, feeling up as "not sex", just a different aspect.
I've been consistently confused or annoyed when people have brought up that "piv=real sex" idea because I just thought of everything as being on the same level, and I find it limiting to think that way, and knowing what I know now about teen pregnancies, heteronormativity, male-centric thinking, "rape culture", and peer pressure has only solidified that for me and how it can be dangerous. Anything that makes people think that doing what they enjoy with their partner that makes them happy is somehow invalid doesn't fly for me, so I don't think that squares. Being a "virgin" I can't really say it's been helpful, and the most sexual things I've done have been situations in which the intercourse-centric framework doesn't apply, so no it's not really helpful to me. I can definitely see how it can be okay for people to think in this way in some circumstances or how it can be hard to change due to upbringing, peers, cultural expectations etc., but it should never be the default assumption or the only way people are taught to think about sex
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PishPosh997
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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby PishPosh997 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:57 pm

I am happy to read these replies. A few people in my life didn’t understand why I was bothered by the PIV=sex definition. I am glad that others feel the same way.

Yes, there are cases where PIV isn’t possible for all kinds of reasons that our out of control.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Herstory » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:45 am

I have struggled with this definition my WHOLE life and it’s honestly got me in a bad depression right now. I consider the first time I had sex to be the first time I was fingered by my ex boyfriend, but I didn’t always perceive it to be. We were in a parking lot, completely naked, and he gave me my very first orgasm ever through fingering my clit. Before him, I never masturbated, but then he showed me how through mutual masterbation, which showed me what I liked and didn’t like being done to my body. For all of high school, I didn’t have interest in having intercourse. I had the “everything but” intercourse, and I mean everything. My bf and I would penetrate each other’s anuses, he would give me multiple nipple orgasms, I would orgasm through clit stimulation by finger, etc. But the one thing that never interested me and even turned me off was intercourse. My boyfriends werent into it either (I had 4 to be exact), so we never did it. The only reason I even began having intercourse in the first place was because I felt like I NEEDED to, like that was the only posible way to have sex and that everything else I did was nothing, even though it was extremely pleasurable for me.
Fast forward to 18, I have intercourse for the first time and I cried. I cried because it felt horrible, even though I was with a partner I loved very much. I cried because it didn’t feel like this huge thing everyone made it out to be and I felt like something was wrong with me. I cried because I realized at that point that I was doomed to have this for the rest of my life if I wanted to be considered valid or human, even if it’s not what brought me pleasure.
So then, I became obsessed with intercourse. I would have it with many partners, have it very frequently, have it for long sessions, tried different positions, tried everything and nothing worked. I still felt nothing from it. I still felt like it wasn’t a big deal. I still didn’t like it, and I would cry myself to sleep sometimes thinking that something is so inherently wrong with me. When I told one of my most recent exes about my feelings towards intercourse, he discredited me, and disregarded my pleasure because what I found to be pleasurable wasn’t “real” sex. He wanted to have intercourse and only that, to which I was obviously very dissatisfied because I didn’t like it. He made me feel shame for the way I had pleasure, for something I can’t change about myself, and for the fact that I didn’t have “real” sex in high school, so my relationships meant nothing. And these thoughts are still with me today.
Not only that, but in high school, I was actually sexually abused by one of my boyfriends. He would bring me to orgasm through fingering and then, when I orgasmed, he would press my clit harder and faster even though I was yelling at him to STOP. Please STOP. And he kept going until I collapsed from the amount of pain I experienced. He also forced me to give him oral and would grab my head and force it on his penis. He once did it so hard, my throat hurt for months. All of these acts were non penetrative, not intercourse, and although they hurt very much and to this day still make me weary, nobody ever considers it to be significant because the acts he performed on me werent “real”, which meant my abuse was imaginary, fake, made up... I talked to many people about it and they all said the same thing: “well, at least it wasn’t real sex. Come on. That’s not assault. That’s not rape.” How can it not be? How can people discredit this? And I was revictimized time and time again, which hurt even MORE than the rape itself. And there are no laws to protect me, or to protect anyone, especially LGBT, from these acts when being forced on you because they’re not “real” or valid.
Finally, I am also bisexual, which means I like girls too and that also brings me a lot of shame about the sex that I have. When I was in high school, I never watched heterosexual porn. It was ALWAYS lesbian porn. I just loved it so much, but I also felt so ashamed because it felt like I was doing something wrong or forbidden and enjoying something wrong or forbidden. When I finally came out and got around to dating and having sex with women, I found out how much more I loved non penetrative acts than intercourse. It’s always felt so natural and pure with women. I never felt the pressure to have this specific sex with them, but after it was done, I’d go into this massive depression realizing that what I liked wasn’t real. That I wasn’t real. And some women I slept with even told me that too. That the sex that we had was nothing because I didn’t have a penis and it made me feel useless, like I was less than human because it was impossible to give them the “real” sex they wanted.
To sum it up, having intercourse as a standard did at least these three things to me:

1. It discredited my pleasure because it didn’t allow me to not like intercourse
2. It discredited my rape because the acts that were forced on me aren’t “real”
3. It discredited my feelings and sex with women because no penis was involved

And these three things led me to the biggest depression and hurdle I have ever faced in my life.

Personally, I don’t consider intercourse to be “real” sex. But I know more than to discredit other people just because they can have pleasure with the acts that I can’t. Even though I feel like intercourse isn’t real sex, I know that it is, even if I may not enjoy it, becuasue everyone deserves to feel like their pleasure matters. There is no such thing as “real” sex. It’s ALL sex. Now what varies is the KIND of sex you have, not whether you consider it to be sex or not. I think the moment society embraces that is the moment other LGBT and people in general who don’t fit with the norm can finally live in peace without people always telling them they’re nothing and that what they have and experience is nothing too.
I wish I knew how to stop these feelings of worthlessness, but these messages about intercourse have been so ingrained in me that I have a lot of trouble getting over what has happened to me and what society has done to me. I’m going to therapy and trying to fix it, but it’s so hard when everyone has that standard. Even some therapists I first visited made me feel that way. They would tell me that I didn’t like intercourse because I was immature, traumatized by intercourse, or because I was doing it wrong, but none of that is that case. I wasn’t traumatized by intercourse I was actually traumatized by non penetrative sex yet I still find immense pleasure from them. And that was coming from a sex therapist, someone who should have the knowledge to understand that sex is a lot more than just penis in vagina and should know more than to be so narrow minded.

This problem infiltrates more than you think. It’s literally everywhere and because of it, it’s a lot harder for me to get the help that I need, especially when every time I do, they just discredit me. It’s been a very very difficult situation for me and it’s all because of intercourse being a standard. If you don’t think that’s a problem, you’re mistaken.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby thewrit3r » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:06 am

This definitely bothers me a lot, well it bothered me a lot more until I came on here and you all helped me see that sex is not just PIV intercourse but a range of activities. I felt good about that because while I haven’t had sex with anyone yet, I know I don’t enjoy penetration and I thought that was the only way to have sex. So I thought I was in for a load of disappointment when I become sexually active with someone, haha. I’ve always stimulated the clitoris when I masturbate, and I think everyone should enjoy and define sex how they want it to be.

But people still hold onto the idea of sex just being PIV. I bought this up with one of my friends and she said that intercourse would feel better with someone else because penetrating yourself is like tickling yourself, and I wasn’t sure if I agreed with that. My brother also said that he didn’t know what I meant when I said a lot could be sex and I think it just goes to show how limited our mindset is. I feel like the “standard” idea for sex is exclusive and frankly heteronormative. I just think we should be more respectful of people’s personal sexual lives and not tell anyone what “real” sex is. Then again I think this is a larger societal problem of people butting into personal business but that’s a whole other rant...
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PishPosh997
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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby PishPosh997 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:26 am

Herstory wrote:I have struggled with this definition my WHOLE life and it’s honestly got me in a bad depression right now. I consider the first time I had sex to be the first time I was fingered by my ex boyfriend, but I didn’t always perceive it to be. We were in a parking lot, completely naked, and he gave me my very first orgasm ever through fingering my clit. Before him, I never masturbated, but then he showed me how through mutual masterbation, which showed me what I liked and didn’t like being done to my body. For all of high school, I didn’t have interest in having intercourse. I had the “everything but” intercourse, and I mean everything. My bf and I would penetrate each other’s anuses, he would give me multiple nipple orgasms, I would orgasm through clit stimulation by finger, etc. But the one thing that never interested me and even turned me off was intercourse. My boyfriends werent into it either (I had 4 to be exact), so we never did it. The only reason I even began having intercourse in the first place was because I felt like I NEEDED to, like that was the only posible way to have sex and that everything else I did was nothing, even though it was extremely pleasurable for me.
Fast forward to 18, I have intercourse for the first time and I cried. I cried because it felt horrible, even though I was with a partner I loved very much. I cried because it didn’t feel like this huge thing everyone made it out to be and I felt like something was wrong with me. I cried because I realized at that point that I was doomed to have this for the rest of my life if I wanted to be considered valid or human, even if it’s not what brought me pleasure.
So then, I became obsessed with intercourse. I would have it with many partners, have it very frequently, have it for long sessions, tried different positions, tried everything and nothing worked. I still felt nothing from it. I still felt like it wasn’t a big deal. I still didn’t like it, and I would cry myself to sleep sometimes thinking that something is so inherently wrong with me. When I told one of my most recent exes about my feelings towards intercourse, he discredited me, and disregarded my pleasure because what I found to be pleasurable wasn’t “real” sex. He wanted to have intercourse and only that, to which I was obviously very dissatisfied because I didn’t like it. He made me feel shame for the way I had pleasure, for something I can’t change about myself, and for the fact that I didn’t have “real” sex in high school, so my relationships meant nothing. And these thoughts are still with me today.
Not only that, but in high school, I was actually sexually abused by one of my boyfriends. He would bring me to orgasm through fingering and then, when I orgasmed, he would press my clit harder and faster even though I was yelling at him to STOP. Please STOP. And he kept going until I collapsed from the amount of pain I experienced. He also forced me to give him oral and would grab my head and force it on his penis. He once did it so hard, my throat hurt for months. All of these acts were non penetrative, not intercourse, and although they hurt very much and to this day still make me weary, nobody ever considers it to be significant because the acts he performed on me werent “real”, which meant my abuse was imaginary, fake, made up... I talked to many people about it and they all said the same thing: “well, at least it wasn’t real sex. Come on. That’s not assault. That’s not rape.” How can it not be? How can people discredit this? And I was revictimized time and time again, which hurt even MORE than the rape itself. And there are no laws to protect me, or to protect anyone, especially LGBT, from these acts when being forced on you because they’re not “real” or valid.
Finally, I am also bisexual, which means I like girls too and that also brings me a lot of shame about the sex that I have. When I was in high school, I never watched heterosexual porn. It was ALWAYS lesbian porn. I just loved it so much, but I also felt so ashamed because it felt like I was doing something wrong or forbidden and enjoying something wrong or forbidden. When I finally came out and got around to dating and having sex with women, I found out how much more I loved non penetrative acts than intercourse. It’s always felt so natural and pure with women. I never felt the pressure to have this specific sex with them, but after it was done, I’d go into this massive depression realizing that what I liked wasn’t real. That I wasn’t real. And some women I slept with even told me that too. That the sex that we had was nothing because I didn’t have a penis and it made me feel useless, like I was less than human because it was impossible to give them the “real” sex they wanted.
To sum it up, having intercourse as a standard did at least these three things to me:

1. It discredited my pleasure because it didn’t allow me to not like intercourse
2. It discredited my rape because the acts that were forced on me aren’t “real”
3. It discredited my feelings and sex with women because no penis was involved

And these three things led me to the biggest depression and hurdle I have ever faced in my life.

Personally, I don’t consider intercourse to be “real” sex. But I know more than to discredit other people just because they can have pleasure with the acts that I can’t. Even though I feel like intercourse isn’t real sex, I know that it is, even if I may not enjoy it, becuasue everyone deserves to feel like their pleasure matters. There is no such thing as “real” sex. It’s ALL sex. Now what varies is the KIND of sex you have, not whether you consider it to be sex or not. I think the moment society embraces that is the moment other LGBT and people in general who don’t fit with the norm can finally live in peace without people always telling them they’re nothing and that what they have and experience is nothing too.
I wish I knew how to stop these feelings of worthlessness, but these messages about intercourse have been so ingrained in me that I have a lot of trouble getting over what has happened to me and what society has done to me. I’m going to therapy and trying to fix it, but it’s so hard when everyone has that standard. Even some therapists I first visited made me feel that way. They would tell me that I didn’t like intercourse because I was immature, traumatized by intercourse, or because I was doing it wrong, but none of that is that case. I wasn’t traumatized by intercourse I was actually traumatized by non penetrative sex yet I still find immense pleasure from them. And that was coming from a sex therapist, someone who should have the knowledge to understand that sex is a lot more than just penis in vagina and should know more than to be so narrow minded.

This problem infiltrates more than you think. It’s literally everywhere and because of it, it’s a lot harder for me to get the help that I need, especially when every time I do, they just discredit me. It’s been a very very difficult situation for me and it’s all because of intercourse being a standard. If you don’t think that’s a problem, you’re mistaken.
.


I am going to validate that many therapists can be ignorant about sex. They are telling what they’ve heard in pop culture.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby pangolin19 » Wed May 06, 2020 6:46 pm

Hmm… this is a tricky one. Yes, I’m—well, “offended” isn’t even quite the right word, just utterly baffled—by the idea that only PIV is “real sex.” (In MSM culture, in my experience, anal intercourse, specially anal penetration with a penis, occupies a very similar role at the top of the sexual totem pole; this is also baffling.) I would also be lying if I denied that, contrary to Scarleteen’s official definition, sex involving genitals didn’t feel qualitatively different from, say, making out—and that’s unquestionably cultural, because it’s not like it’s necessarily more arousing, even. For me personally, I guess I would have to say that activities that get somebody off* fall closer to the “full-blown sex” end of the sexual activities scale, and that activities that get all parties off** are pretty much as fully blown (if you’ll excuse the pun) as sex gets.

*Gonna acknowledge that personally “get somebody off” usually equals “result in somebody orgasming,” because (problematically, I realize) that’s typically the end goal when my partner and I engage in genital sex acts. Has it happened that genital sex acts or a sequence thereof conclude without either person orgasming? Yes, of course. Are both of us happy with that? Not usually! But that’s an us thing, and I’m sure there are people out there who would feel perfectly fulfilled without having orgasmed. I know there are people who regularly orgasm from things that involve no genital contact whatsoever, too. So broadly, “get somebody off” = “result in somebody achieving a state of sexual pleasure that all parties find satisfactory.”

**Again, whether or not the getting off results from one or more activities—probably almost always more than one, actually! Personally, the closer together (we’re talking like “less than an hour” versus “over an hour” closeness) the orgasms, the more something subjectively feels 100% like sex. Why? Heck if I know.


To give an example: the first time I went “yep, that was definitely sex” as opposed to arguing with myself over whether a particular thing was or was not sex was the first time my partner and I engaged in… I guess it would be half manual sex and half mutual masturbation? Simultaneously giving the other person and ourselves a hand, let’s say. That felt way more like sex than previous attempts at manual sex or partnered masturbation alone—or the first time we had genital-oral contact, for that matter—because, to be frank, it worked a lot better. :P This is despite the fact, I should stress, that my partner and I have exactly the same genital configuration as the cisgender heterosexuals pushing PIV supremacy. So! Yes! It’s complicated. But my complicated definition works well for me!

I should note, though—and what I’m not trying to do here is call people out, because 1) I don’t have conclusive proof that they’re all using it this way, and 2) if they are, all they’re doing is reflecting the usage they see around them—is that I’m almost equally irritated by people using “intercourse” as a synonym for vaginal intercourse specifically, and “vaginal intercourse” in turn as a synonym for PIV sex. Now, I’m no sex educator, and I’m sure my definitions in this regard are somewhat idiosyncratic, but for me “intercourse” refers to the type of sex you have when someone’s genitally located Tab A goes into someone else’s genitally located Slot B. The two types of intercourse are named after the two possible genitally located Slot Bs: vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse. Using “intercourse” to refer just to vaginal intercourse is reductive in that it’s hetero- and reproduction-centric, as Heather points out—even though not all vaginal intercourse might potentially result in reproduction, and even though not everybody who has vaginal intercourse is heterosexual, and even though vaginal intercourse is not the only kind of intercourse heterosexual people have, its strongest cultural associations are with heterosexual, reproductive sex.

Going an additional step and equating vaginal intercourse with PIV sex (or anal intercourse with penis-in-anus sex) is also problematic. You’ll notice I referred to Tab A as genitally located, not as genitals per se; this is because I would contend that anal or vaginal penetration with a strap-on dildo is also intercourse.*** I don’t actually think there’s one single word encompassing the ways in which defining intercourse as necessarily containing a penis is problematic, but the best way to put it is probably to say that it’s reductive with regard to both sexuality and gender. It’s reductive with regard to sexuality because it invalidates both the type of vaginal intercourse two cisgender women have and the type of anal intercourse a cisgender woman with a receptive cisgender male partner has. It’s reductive with regard to gender because it devalues the type of intercourse penetrative partners without penises can have relative to the type penetrative partners with penises can have, and because it implicitly assumes all of the former are women and all of the latter are men. Not a fan.

***A note on genitally located: I specify this, and I specify “with a strap-on,” because I personally would not think of anal or vaginal penetration with someone else’s hand(s) or hand-held sex toy(s) as actually being intercourse; I would call it “anal/vaginal penetration.” This has some wishy-washy connection to the concept of… pelvic thrusting, I’m gonna say?… as necessary for intercourse and may be where sex educators and I differ. I personally would categorize them separately, though.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Sam W » Sat May 09, 2020 7:52 am

Pangolin, just chiming in to say that "utterly baffled" is a pretty concise way of describing how, I suspect, more than a few people feel about such a narrow definition. I've been in this field for years now, and have an academic background that touched a lot on the social aspects of sex, and so intellectually I know the answer has a lot to do with how certain forms of sex or certain relationships were/are privileged or treated as legitimate while others were not. But I occasionally still see people treating vaginal intercourse with a penis as the only "real" sex and just have this gut reaction of "HOW, do you not see all the ways in which this erases the incredible variety of human sexual experience?"

sunadonis
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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby sunadonis » Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:23 pm

I'm late to the game but;

I'm sure this has been discussed prior, but I think the term "real sex" is hard to define if only for the fact that mainstream culture really only views penetration -especially vaginal penetration- as "actual" sex. Which is interesting considering a blowjob or rimming is consider oral sex but to a lesser degree than "actual" sex.

Sex is and should be defined by the participants of the act(ions) and can be whatever they decide is sex. For example, a male* couple could have intercrural sex -which for those who may not know is when partner A has their thighs lubed and is squeezing them together and partner B inserts(?) their penis between said thighs, usually thrusting for friction to achieve orgasm- and that my be considered "actual" sex while another couple only considers penetrative sex as "actual" sex.

(Another aspect, while vaginal penetration is held to a certain degree, anal penetration is considered, perhaps, a degree higher based on how mainstream culture (mainly in heterosexual porn, although it can be found in other genres) depicts it as "the best" and that one must "convince" their partner for it. It also depicts, in a heterosexual couple for example, that the male half must "convince" his female partner to "try it", usually for his gratification.)

*note: "male" as a gender is defined by the person so in this example, please feel free to picture a variety of gender definitions.
Adonis | 22 | He/It Pronouns

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:08 am

Sex is and should be defined by the participants of the act(ions) and can be whatever they decide is sex.


I *love* this, sunadonis!
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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Marisha » Tue Oct 20, 2020 3:07 pm

As a person who doesn't define sex so rigidly, I consider 'sex' to be any intimate act that I would not want a family member to walk in on.

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Re: What's "Real Sex?" (Seriously.)

Unread postby Heather » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:02 am

Marisha, I love that answer!
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