Friday, March 5, 2010

What is S-E-X?

Just think back to when you first learned what sex was. Maybe it was in school, maybe it was from your friends, or maybe it was from an awkward talk with your parents, or maybe it was not at all. There are multiple sources of information about what sex is but is one of them right?

The Kinsey Institute has come out with another shocking study. Along with the University of Indiana, they interviewed 282 women and 204 men from ages 18 to 96 about what they considered to be "sex". The results were not as consistent as you would expect:

81% thought anal sex was sex
71% thought oral sex as sex
95% thought penile-vaginal intercourse was sex
89% thought p-v intercourse was sex if the male ejaculates

One odd statistic was that only 77% of men over the age of 65 considered p-v intercourse "sex".
So what do they consider sex??

I found these numbers interesting because it proves there is no solid definition of "sex". I've always been taught (mostly by my peers) that penis in vagina or anus is sex and everything leading up to it is foreplay. A common analogy used is running the bases. There are variations of the equivalents of the bases but for me: first base was making out, second was above the waist touching, third was below the waist touching, and home was penis in vagina SEX. Each time you "hooked up" with someone, you could go through the bases but as long as there was no genital coitus, you were still pure.

Looking back, there are problems with this analogy. First of all, it is extremely heteronormative. In a male-male sexual interaction, there are no breasts involved so second base is out, there is no vagina so there is no genital coitus but two men can have anal sex which was beyond home base (at least in my teenaged mind). With two females in this analogy, they get stuck at third when there is no penis. So does that mean they can't have sex?

Besides first base, there is some nudity involved. Some people believe that whenever you're naked with someone that is considered sex. In younger generations, this belief is not as wide spread. We're living in a hook-up culture where nudity does not mean intimacy and foreplay does not always come before sex. Oral sex is not about intimacy but rather a step below sex. For a lot of people, especially those claiming abstinance, oral sex and anal sex are not considered SEX. (Note the word sex in the title??) As long as there has been no penis in the vagina, your virginity is intact.

So for some people sex is intimacy, for many penile-vaginal intercourse, for others only if there is a chance at getting prengnant, and for some any genital coitus. The problem is not so much what sex is, but how to educate people about it. If there is no consensus over what it means, there can often be miscommunication. When talking about STIs, people need to know that whenever genitals are touched there is a risk of contamination. This includes, but is not limited to, penile-vaginal intercourse, giving and receiving oral sex, and anal sex. Being a "virgin" does not protect you and neither does abstaining from "sex". So don't be stupid, if you're intimate with someone or not, if you are touching their gentials USE PROTECTION!!!!

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