Welcome to Girlspeak/Girlspeak! The Guyspeak guys are out doing guy things this week (arm wrestling, fixing cars, etc), so I thought it was a perfect time to double up on the female perspective! My best friend, fellow therapist, and card-carrying lesbian Morgan Parlier is subbing in for the guys, but otherwise, everything remains the same: A girl writes in a real question to Guyspeak, and the lucky dame gets answers from two different perspectives. Read on to find out our thoughts on this humdinger of a query:
So, for a girl who's dabbled in physical delights on both sides of the pond, how does she know when she's officially deflowered? Is there a rulebook for this sort of thing? Does it depend on your values? On your sexual orientation? On the weather? Both Emily and her long-time BFF Morgan weigh in, as this is a subject they've
discussed at least a billion times.
Gay Girl Voice: Morgan Parlier
When I was 19 and in a long-term relationship with a man, I had sex with a woman for the first time. What's interesting is that I didn't realize that what we had was sex
for several years -- I thought things had just escalated a bit too far at a fun party. But it turns out the penis is more of a measuring stick than I thought, because removing it from the sexual equation actually makes the whole formula more complicated.
This is all to say that there is no simple answer to "How does a lesbian know when she's had sex?" When I've asked around, I have heard that sex is: cunnilingus (most frequently referenced -- as well as the culprit of my own inadvertent lesbian deflowering), penetration (whether it be fingers, fists, and/or sex toys), scissoring, any type of clitoral stimulation, anything resulting in an orgasm; I've even heard kissing. The more I've asked this question, the more I've wondered, What
isn't sex among lesbians?
But by removing the very basic, historic mechanics of heterosexual sex, there comes a lot of freedom -- and a lot more focus on preferences. You don't like penetration? You don't have to do it! Love making out? Throw that in the mix!
While I think that ultimately, Emily and I both agree about the fluidity of sex, I believe that there is an inherent difference between sex for straight people versus sex for gay people. While we all have a frame of reference for what constitutes sex between a woman and a man, the rest of us are on our own. I'm not saying that there aren't other options for heterosexual couples. I'm just saying that when I was with a man, I never thought to ask anyone, "What is sex?"
When it comes down to it, sex is defined by the people having it. If you are in a relationship in which it is important to define your sexual boundaries, it may be a good idea to talk about your own definitions with each other – maybe over a glass of wine. Don't wait until you're on third, because by then, sex talk often becomes foreplay.
I agree with Morgan's point about how removing the penis-vagina combo from the equation brings more freedom into defining what sex is, but I would argue that rethinking this definition is important for the straights as well as the gays. With great freedom comes great responsibility.
I remember having this deep, revelatory conversation with a girl I didn't know very well back in high school. She was a cheerleader -- the type of girl I didn't normally hang out with -- but somehow the topic of sex came up. "I want to stay a virgin until I'm married," she told me, "which is why I only let Jared put it in my butt." I nodded, dumbfounded, wondering how on Earth she could still consider herself a virgin while doing stuff some porn stars won't do. But it just goes to show how much value we straight folk put on old-fashioned penis-and-vagina sex.
I like that in the gay and lesbian community, there is more focus on figuring out what turns you on and defining sex that way, rather than assuming that the tried and true method will work. I think every woman should take a few moments to go through every sexual act you can think of, and rate how much you enjoy each one. Make your definition of sex involve the things that get you the most excited.
I guess at its most basic, any activity that involves genitals and could result in an STD could be considered sex. Because if genitals and STD risks are involved, there is vulnerability there, and to me, sex is about vulnerability. Oral sex is sex; having "sex" with someone of the same gender is sex; using sex toys with someone is sex; and for heaven's sake, anal sex is sex.
Sex, however you define it, should be conducted with intimacy and maturity, and it should be enjoyable for both parties involved. Morgan and I will continue debating this issue until the end of time, and as for my cheerleader friend, she ended up marrying her high school sweetheart and they now have two kids. So, I guess she did eventually lose her virginity.
What do you think?
What is sex to you? How do you define it for yourself, and how do you define it for other people? Have you ever had sex without realizing it until later? Has your definition of sex changed as you've gotten older? Tell us! Leave your comments below, and if you have a question you want both genders to take a shot at answering, head over to Guyspeak
and ask -- it might end up back here!