What Is Sex? Or, How Do I Know If I’ve Lost My Virginity?

I was speaking with a woman who wanted me to do a blog post on adult virgins (which I plan to do) when I was struck by something that she was saying. She was in her early twenties and considered herself a virgin yet when I asked her about her sexual history I learned that she regularly engaged in sexual activity like oral sex and mutual masturbation, she just hasn’t been vaginally or anally penetrated. This seems to be the distinction, for many, between virginity and lack there of. Penetration = sex. I feel it is my duty to proclaim that penetration ≠ sex…well, ok it does but it’s not the only thing that equals sex.

 So here it is, the age old argument against defining sex as vaginal penetration. Lesbians and gay men. Now I hear your argument already, “Lesbians use strap-ons and gay men penetrate each other anally,” but here’s the thing, not all lesbians use strap-ons and anal sex isn’t as common amongst gay men as pop culture and pornography would have you believe. Many homosexuals have had non-penetrative sex their whole lives and you can trust me that most would not consider themselves virgins. Sex is what happens when two horny people consent to help each other feel pleasure in an erotic way. Ever notice how it’s called oral SEX. Now I’ll concede that the line get’s blurry when the people aren’t in the same room; are phone sex and cyber sex the kinds of sex that constitutes a loss of virginity?

 If the question is “Did I just have sex?” I think that the answer must also come in the form of a question. “Do you think you just had sex?” if the answer is “Yes!” then you, my friend, just had sex! When two women are bringing each other to climax using their hands and mouths they most definitely think that they are having sex, and they’d be right. Sex is just one of those terrible things like art that is kind of subjective. Some people believe that anything can be art and in a similar way if you believe that you’re having sex that’s the only way to really know if you’re having sex. No one else can tell you.

So I get that this woman I was speaking to doesn’t think that she’s had sex yet but she also seems to be putting an inordinate amount of weight on one particular sexual act to the point of almost negating all her previous sexual experience. I don’t think that we should raise vaginal intercourse up on some pedestal of sexuality as the key sex act to which all other sex acts are lesser. It’s just one kind of sexual activity that can make up sex, and in fact, it’s one of the more high risk things you can do with a sexual partner. This doesn’t even cover the fact that considering vaginal intercourse to be the only real kind of sex is a highly discriminatory and heteronormative viewpoint and leaves people who do not engage in this kind of sex on the fringe. I for one believe that the sex act which we consider to be the primary and most important one should be masturbation. I think that would go a long way towards demystifying sex.

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What’s The Difference Between G-Spot And Clitoral Orgasms?

A couple of weeks ago I emailed Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a Harvard Psychology professor who’s blog The Psychology Of Human Sexuality is one of my top reads every week. I asked him a question about women’s ability to orgasm and he was awesome enough to post the question and his response on his blog this week on his “Sex Question Friday” segment. Here’s what I asked and his response:

I know that some women can only experience clitoral orgasm but not G Spot orgasm. I was curious to know if there are many cases of women who are able to have G Spot orgasms but are incapable of orgasming through clitoral stimulation. I’m sure there are a few cases but are these the exception to the rule or is it quite variable?

Thanks for this very interesting question. The short answer is that the route to female orgasm is highly variable and there is not one “correct” or right way for a woman to climax. Some women do it through vaginal insertion, others through clitoral stimulation, while some can orgasm simply by having their nipples touched. Stimulation of the cervix has also been recognized as a way some women reach orgasm.1 As a result, it would never surprise me to hear that some women can climax from one type of stimulation but not another. Thus, there are no “rules” when it comes to female orgasm.

That said, you asked specifically about the relationship between G-Spot and clitoral orgasms and whether you can have one without the other. This is a difficult question to answer with any degree of certainty because, among sexual scientists, the G-Spot has often described as a “gynecological UFO.” In other words, although there have been many G-spot “sightings,” scientists have had a hard time proving its existence. In fact, a 2012 review of all of the G-Spot research conducted to date concluded that “the existence of an anatomical G-Spot…remains to be demonstrated.”2

Now, this is not to say that the G-Spot doesn’t exist. There are indeed many women who report experiencing highly pleasurable orgasms as a result of stimulation of the area typically thought of as representing the G-Spot (i.e., the front vaginal wall, about one-third to one-half of the distance between the vaginal opening and the cervix). However, it turns out that the source of this intense pleasure may be a result of stimulation of the internal portion of the clitoris.2 Most of the clitoris is actually inside of the body anchoring it to the pubic bone. During sexual arousal, that internal portion of the clitoris swells with blood (it consists of erectile tissue, just like the penis) and, consequently, moves closer to the vaginal walls. As a result, when stimulating the supposed G-Spot, we may simply be stimulating a different portion of the clitoris.

As a result, there may not be a lot of point in distinguishing between clitoral and G-Spot orgasms and who is able to climax which way. Although stimulation of these two areas may produce orgasms that differ in intensity (and potentially ejaculation), it is important to recognize that this may simply be the result of two unique types of clitoral stimulation.

For past Sex Question Friday posts, see here. Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.

1Cutler, W. B., Zacker, M., McCoy, N., Genovese-Stone, E., & Friedman, E. (2000). Sexual response in women.Obstetrics & Gynecology, 95, S19.

 

2Kilchevsky, A., Vardi, Y., Lowenstein, L., & Gruenwald, I. (2012). Is the female G-spot truly a distinct anatomic entity? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9(3), 719-726.

 

 

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Are Robots The Future Of Sex?

So these days with all this new fangled gadgetry and computers you wear like glasses it’s hard not to feel like we’re getting closer and closer to THE FUTURE! It looks more and more like robots are going to be a part of our lives in the coming decades and like all new technologies the first thing that they’re going to be widely utilized for is…well probably war… but the second thing will be sex. I’m serious, I genuinely think that having sex with robots will become a very mainstream practice before I die. And why not? It will be a safe and satisfying way to masturbate that will open up avenues of fantasy and role-play that require a very open, comunicative and willing “meat partner” to accomplish these days. And Besides, as the video says, tons of us already do have sex with robots, we just don’t think about it that way. That vibrator in your drawer and that flesh light that you “don’t have,” are little, rudimentary robots.

If we’re cool with having sex with disembodied robot penises and vaginas whats wrong with adding on the rest of the body? I think we can all agree that sex is much more than penis and vagina. Plus robots will make certain impossible fantasies possible. Did you know that there are some people who’s biggest fantasy is to have sex with a mythical creature like a goblin or a centaur. With robotic sexual partners they can have a “realistic” experience with the creature of their dreams, instead of having to imagine it during sex with their mundane, human partner.

I’m being quite tongue in cheek here but I seriously believe that robots could change the game for human sexuality and that robotic sexuality will have far reaching effects. Obviously some people will become obsessed with robot sex, believing that they have fallen in love with their inanimate partners and forgoing all human sexual contact, that is just going to happen no matter what. And some people (cough, religious fundamentalists) are going to condemn it as heresy and blasphemy, but some good will come from it too, I believe.

People with disabilities need sexual fulfilment too, and the sad reality is that in this day and age it is not easy for everyone with disabilities to find sexual partners. With prostitution illegal in most parts of the world and stigma around disability so great, this is, in my opinion, one of the tragedies of sexuality of our time. It’s not hard to see how robots could help in this regard. Sex workers may not be pleased, though. Robots could put a large proportion of sex workers out of business. I’m not suggesting that people will prefer robots to the real thing 100% of the time, but eventually they will become cheaper and safer than their organic counterparts.

My final point is controversial, or at least it would be if this were a conversation being had in our society today. I believe that it is possible that robots may be useful for helping people with pedophilia, who do not want to abuse children, live out their fantasies much like the centaur fetishists mentioned above. I’m sure this issue will come up if there is ever a day in which we have functional sex robots, and I’m sure the issue will be a hot one. I am not a child assault and torture apologist but there is some research to claim that pedophilia should be viewed as a sexual orientation like heterosexuality or homosexuality. If this is the case then I believe that robots may be a compassionate way of acknowledging that, without condoning real harm. I hope that in the future, if I become a more prominent writer someone doesn’t dig this up and crucify me for it. I know that this is and will continue to be a controversial idea but at this point in time, in 2013, it looks like it could be a fruitful option. Anyway, thats my rant about robots. I apologize for it’s tangential nature, it was very much an unfiltered stream of consciousness, but it’s a concept that I see endless possibility in. Until next time True Believer.

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The History Of Condoms

Condoms have been around in one form or another since ancient times. They have since become the most widely available form of contraception and when used properly can be up to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. They are also the most important tool at our disposal for preventing the spread of STIs. If you have 8 mins take the time and check out this very engaging and entertaining documentary on The History of Condoms:

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What’s On Our Radar 02/23/12

Turn’s out there’s been a fair bit on the radar this week:

First off, Tricia Romano asks Is Bi The Last Taboo? – The Daily Beast

Penis Enlargement: Why It’s A Big Ball Of DON’T is this weeks best title – Em & Lo

Breaking the stereotypes of exotic dancers in 4 Things You Should Know About Women Who Strip – Alternet

11 Works Of Sexology That Will Blow Your Mind (With Science) is the definitive collection of sexological writing in my humble opinion – io9

Great news: More Elite Colleges Are Covering Sex-Change Surgery And Other Transgender Student Needs – Jezebel

Why Do Straight Women And Gay Men Get Along So Well? Asks Lehmiller – The Psychology Of Human Sexuality

Spiritual Women Have More Sex, Study Finds, the same doesn’t appear to be true for men, however – NBCNEWS

What Does Feminist Porn Look Like? – Role/Reboot

And finally, Tracy Clark-Flory, resident sex writer at Salon, interviewes Cheryl Cohen Greene, the sex surrogate who inspired the Oscar nominated film The Sessions:

Deep Inside: A Study Of 10,000 Porn Stars And Their Careers

If you didn’t notice, it’s unofficial porn week here at The “Oh!” Face:

The Science Of Porn Addiction

This video explains how watching pornography can stimulate the release of dopamine, the chemical most closely associated with addictions and habit forming behaviour. There is some controversy over weather addiction is the proper term when not referring to a substance addiction but the video makes a pretty strong argument that the physiological effects of porn addiction are similar to that of any other addiction.

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6 Ways In Which The Clitoris And The Penis Are Pretty Much The Same Thing

The penis and the clitoris are two sides to the same coin. When in the womb, biology flips that coin and we usually grow male physical characteristics or female physical characteristics. Before puberty the only one of these physical differences that makes itself known is the genitals. But the genitals aren’t as different as they may appear. The penis and the clitoris are formed out of the same material in the womb and perform much of the same functions outside of the womb. The major differences between the two are the fact that the penis is bigger and lives mostly outside the body, where as the much smaller clitoris extends most of it’s shaft within the body. The penis also contains the opening of the urethra from which urine is expelled.

The evidence of the similarities between the two goes much further than that however:

1. The clitoris and the penis are the primary erogenous zones for women and men respectively, that is, they are the sources of the most erotic focus and sensation. The clitoris is the only organ in the human body with the sole function of pleasure.

2. Women and men are both born with foreskin. The clitoral hood, or the skin that rests over the clitoris is made from the same stuff as the oft removed male foreskin.

3. Women get erections. The corpora cavernosa, or the part that fills with blood and causes the penis to enlarge, does the same in the clitoris causing it to swell, usually during sexual arousal, but like men, it can sometimes just happen.

4. Just like men, women get nocturnal erections and sometimes even morning wood. Throughout the night women’s clitorises become erect and are often erect upon first waking (morning hood?).

5. Clitorises also lose their erection after orgasm although it may take a fair bit more time than it would for men.

6.  Some women suffer from a kind priapism, or persistant erection, called clitorism in which the clitoris becomes repeatedly erect causing extreme discomfort and pain, as can happen to men.

Like penises, clitorises (clitori?) come in all shapes and sizes and like penises they are exceptionally sensitive. They don’t really look the same from the outside but as with most things to do with sex/gender, the similarities outweigh the differences.

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Iceland May Ban Porn

The Icelandic government is trying to pass a law that will ban online pornography in the country. They are trying to specifically target porn that is “violent” and “hateful.” This isn’t a particularly surprising move from the country that has already outlawed strip clubs and is ranked number 1 in the Global Gender Gap report, meaning that they have the highest rate of gender equality of any nation in the world. They also have the first openly lesbian head of state in the world, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. But banning internet pornography is creating a heated debate about censorship and the slippery slope that banning porn could lead to, not to mention the fact that, logistically, it may be an impossible achievement.

“Web filters, blocked addresses and making it a crime to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography, are among the plans being devised by internet and legal experts,” writes The Guardian. The only reason why this is even a conversation being had is that Iceland has a population of only 322,000 people. In a country with a bigger population it would be logistically impossible and Iceland may be the same. The debate about censorship that this has sparked has made the likelihood of this actually happening quite low but it also raises an interesting debate about pornography.

In Iceland, the average boy is 11 when he is first exposed to internet porn and the kind of porn he’s seeing isn’t your airbrushed Playboy centerfold either. The kinds of porn available to people of all ages these days is more graphic, sometimes more violent and as men become desensitized to hard core porn they may ‘graduate’ to more and more extreme types of porn to fulfill their erotic tastes. There have been studies on both sides of the debate about wether porn is negatively affecting society but those studies are getting harder and harder to conduct as it becomes nearly impossible to find large enough groups of men who haven’t watched porn.

I don’t believe in censorship but I’m glad that Iceland has opened up the debate around pornography, violence, and what we should deem to be acceptable. I hope that, if nothing else, this news from Iceland will get us to think more critically about what we’re watching, how it portrays violence against women, and wether or not it is helping, hurting, or remaining neutral in terms of gender equality.

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Straight Men Who Watch Porn Are More Likely To Support Gay Marriage

It’s official, porn is the Devil! How else could you explain the results of this latest study? The study states that heterosexual men who watch pornography are more likely to support same-sex marriage. And it’s not just rich, educated, elite porn watchers either. It appears that the most marked shift in attitudes can be found in less educated straight men. So what is it about watching porn that these researchers think is affecting the attitudes of straight guys?

The study believes that exposure to “nontraditional sex situations,” as seen in porn is opening the minds of straight men across America. Basically, watching all the weird and kinky shit that is available on the internet has desensitized straight guys icky-meter. It’s hard to be grossed out by the thought of two men kissing and getting married in a post two-girls-one-cup world (mom, go ahead and don’t google that).

“Pornography adopts an individualistic, nonjudgmental stance on all kinds of nontraditional sexual behaviors and same-sex marriage attitudes are strongly linked to attitudes about same-sex sex,” says Paul Wright, Assistant Professor at Indiana University, “If people think individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to have same-sex sex, they will also think that individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to get married to a partner of the same-sex.” I feel like this really highlights why people are opposed to same-sex marriage. People don’t like it because they think it’s gross, which is, in and of itself, gross. It has very little to do with Jesus. When people refer to gay sex as an abomination, what they’re really saying is, “You guys put what, where?! Gross!”

In conclusion, watching porn is a good way to get over your prudish attitudes about what people should and shouldn’t do in the privacy of their own bedroom/Volkswagen. Porn can teach you that people do a lot of weird shit that is none of your business and that, well, it’s none of  your business. So all you anti-same-sex marriage bigots can go home and watch some porn and we’ll talk once you’ve come out of the closet, everyone else, enjoy your weekend.

 

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