Girl Talk: How Lesbian Sex Changed My Definition Of Straight Sex

When I was a kid, I thought “sex” was two people peeing on each other. Like, I imagined you got in a bed naked and cuddled  for so long that inevitably you would have to pee. But instead of getting up to pee, you just “let go” and peed together, in the bed. This romantic notion just made sense in my eight-year-old brain.

By the time I hit middle school, I totally knew what sex was. Or at least I acted that way, ready to jump on my more naive peers with a “You mean you don’t know?!”

I thought I had gathered the correct information about the genitals, for the most part. I stared at the instructions that came with boxes of tampons, and tried to understand how one went about inserting them … or anything at all down there. I prayed no one would give me a pop quiz about how the logistics of it all worked.

So when I was 15, and my 14-year-old boyfriend and I decided to have sex, it won’t shock you to know that we couldn’t figure it out. We knew sex meant this one act, this penetration thing, but it just didn’t work for us. Later, when we broke up, I wrote, heartbroken in my diary, that I’d “practically had sex with him.”

I remember writing that diary entry, and feeling like I had lost a layer of my virginity, and a significant one; it wasn’t sex per se, but it was still something important. Later, I crossed out the entry, because I hadn’t gone all the way. The big question amongst my friends was, “Did you, or didn’t you?”

Later, of course, I did. At 16, I had a serious boyfriend, who was a few years older than me, meaning he had his own place. Every time we saw each other, our clothes just jumped off our bodies and we went through a montage of sex positions and role play games. There were schoolgirl costumes and anime porn (both my ideas, which I feel baffled about to this day, these tastes haven’t followed me to adulthood.) But, I was into this at the time. I liked the sex we were having. Yet, sometimes I felt pressure for it to end in penetration, like I owed it to him, like that is what counted and made it sex.

As we settled, a few years into our relationship, the role play stopped, the intensity began to disappear– but we were still having a lot of sex. Every-time we hung out, it was a lot of laying on the couch watching movies, waiting inevitably, for the kiss on my neck and poke in my backside. And, always, I would oblige. But I would find myself trying to hurry the sex along, faking turned on, wondering if he would go home in time for me to catch re-runs of “The Golden Girls” on Lifetime.

I guess I felt like, that is what you did as a couple, or like, I wanted to be physically intimate, so sex was what I should do.

Looking back, I wonder how would it have been different, if I had known what I know now about sex. Could I have offered a different sex act instead that I might have enjoyed more?

In college, single and going to house-parties, I started keeping close tabs on my number. Not because I was terribly worried about sleeping with too many people, but because I liked tallying, and keeping things neat and clean. On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I liked re-counting my sex partners, imagining some strange reality show where someone locked all of the men I had slept with in a room together and made them interact. Would they guess what they had in common? Who would get along?

But inevitably, as I tried to tally my sex partners, I found myself wondering, the same thing my friends did about the first guy: Did that one count? Did I or didn’t I have sex with him? Was there actual penis-in-vagina? Should I add him to the list?

Then I started dating a girl and came out as bisexual. Maybe I should have mentioned, even my eight-year-old-self thought “pee sex” could happen between ANY two people!

At first, I didn’t let this bother that nice, neat sex thing, because surely there was some black and white definition for girl-on-girl sex, cloaked in a sort of lesbian secrecy, which all sounded very exciting. But … then there kinda wasn’t. We just, you know, did all kinds of things that felt good or got one another off.

I started to define sex more broadly. I think that each individual defines what sex is for them. For me, sex can be any physical, sensual intimacy that builds to a sexual release, not just penetration.The method of categorization that I started using was that if it felt like sex, then it was sex. It’s kind of like trying to define porn, you just know it when you see it.

My girlfriend asked me, “Isn’t it great that girls can do this?” as we sprawled on her bed, touching and rolling around.

I laughed.

But really I thought, “Yeah, it is great. Why can’t I have sex like this with men as well?”

So, I set out to do that. When I started dating my now husband, we talked about what sex was for each of us. And when I wasn’t in the mood for penis-in-vagina (p-i-v), I started to rack my brain for what would feel nice, and often, I would offer an alternative act I wanted to engage in instead.

Now we have what I previously only knew as “lesbian sex” all the time. There are lots of acts that are equal to — or better than — penis in vagina penetration, at least for us. We don’t have to end with p-i-v, we don’t even have to end with orgasm.

Our sex life reminds me of this short story I read in which there was a restaurant that had thousands of items on the menu, the items had been added once a day since they opened, and each day another one appeared. Our sexual menu might go something like:

#47. Solo masturbation — side by side.

#48. Mutual masturbation with toys.

#49. Dry-humping with dirty talk.

It’s a long menu.

Now, there is never a question of “Did we or didn’t we?” but rather of how was this sexual experience? How significant was it for me? How did I feel about it?

I wish I could have known this when I was a teenager, if I had defined what I liked and what sex was for me, I think I would have had better sex, as well as sex that I felt more emotionally connected to. Sex is how you define it. I guess my eight-year-old self wasn’t so far off after all.