What is Lesbian Sex?

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My best friend and I have a running joke. Well, it started out as a conversation. A serious one, in fact.  About 12 years ago, when I started sleeping with women, I was confused as to what constituted lesbian sex. As is, how would I know that I had had sex? With men, it was easy. In my eighteen-year-old mind, I thought the lines were clear-cut. Any sexual act that was not vaginal or anal penetration with a penis was not (yet) sex. Oral sex was not really sex, and fingering was a prelude to the act of sex. After all, I had been engaging in these sexual extra-curricular activities for years before I was said to have “lost my virginity.”

With women, it all seemed so much more confusing.  All of a sudden, the act that had been the determining factor in my understanding of sex was gone. The acts that my boyfriend and I had engaged in while still considering ourselves virgins were now the entirety of my sexual repertoire with my same sex partners. The difference, of course, was that I was enjoying them much, much more and they left me feeling more satisfied than ever before. It felt more like sex was supposed to feel than most of my experiences with men. To compensate for this lack of a clear definition, and during the particularly slutty two year period after coming out, I began to make statements such as “No, it wasn’t sex, I didn’t have an orgasm”, or “No, it wasn’t sex, we weren’t naked” or “No, it wasn’t sex, It was all very one sided.” My favorite is still “No, it wasn’t sex, I was really really drunk.” My friend, a fountain of wisdom during these confused times, came up with a response; “If you have an orgasm, and you are not alone in the room, then sex has happened.” But this too seemed lacking. What about those (admittedly few) times, when I felt that I had had sex but hadn’t climaxed? What about those times when my partner hadn’t climaxed?

So, my best friend had to put up lines like this for several years. It was only when I slept with a man again that I realized how stupid I was being. Clearly, sex was an act created by two (or more) people where the intent is to share their bodies to the utmost, whatever the configuration that “sharing” takes. After coming to this realization with women, my sexual experiences with men felt much less confined to the heteronormative definitions of sex. I didn’t have to be penetrated by my partner (or have penetrated him) for us to have had sex. I settled on a much less fluid definition, if we both felt that we had had sex, then, to put it simply, we had. Of course, this understanding is open to leakage, such as the times when I perform the same sexual acts with two people, yet only feel like I have slept with one of them. And of course, the crucial question is; why the need to have a definition at all? The answer is not simple, but I have been asked, by lovers and friends, countless times how many sexual partners I have had. If only to satisfy their curiosity, I now have an answer.

- Contributed by M/M

Guest Contributor

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