The way we talk about sex is wrong.

Stark Raving
May 15 · 3 min read
Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash

Women “give it up”, men “get some.”

We say we are “so fucked” when something bad happens, as though fucking someone was an aggressive, hostile act.

We call the sexual acts the majority of women enjoy the most “foreplay”, as though they were just an add-on to the core of sex, an appetizer.

The way we talk about sex stinks of hetero-patriarchal norms, and it is also harmful to the way we experience sex.

Sex is not just penetration …

… and foreplay is not the entry fee men have to pay to access a female body. It is an integral and important part of sex. The term foreplay is very much the result of the heterosexual penetrative way sex is defined in our culture, which treats penis-in-vagina penetration as the core of sexual interactions.

This is exclusive towards homosexual couples, and dismisses lesbian sex in particular because of the absence of a penetrative penis. A friend of mine who has dated women her whole life was complaining to me recently about how doctors talk about her sex life. She went to see a Gynaecologist who, upon learning her sexual preference, said to her

“So you are a virgin, then?”

Erm… No.

Our culture presents penis-in-vagina sex as the norm, placing heterosexual sex above homosexual sex, and basing it quasi-exclusively on male pleasure. Like how when magazines write about sex positions, they never include positions for fingering or oral sex.

It feels odd to me that when I began being sexually active, I dismissed the things which brought me the most pleasure as being “foreplay” — accessory to the core of sex. It reinforced in my mind the idea that society was already foisting on me — that sex was service women provide to men, and it drove a wedge between me and my own desire, teaching me that my own hungering was always a secondary priority, and therefore, that I couldn’t ask for much.

The fact is, the things we call foreplay are what procures orgasm for a vast majority of women. According to Planned Parenthood research, as many as 80 per cent of women have difficulty achieving orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone. Elisabeth Lloyd’s metastudy of 32 studies over 74 years showed a similar frequency — just a quarter of the women studied experienced orgasms often or very often during intercourse, she found.

“What would the world be like if men’s orgasms were ‘just foreplay’ and women’s orgasms were the main event?”

— Laurie Mintz, Becoming Cliterate

Psychology professor Laurie Mintz writes that the main reason for the orgasm gap is that we consider intercourse the main event. If the things that bring the most women to climax weren’t considered secondary, this would change, fast. Although this might be hard for some men to hear, it will be worth it.

“The idea that genital penetration might be seriously overhyped is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for those men of the world who base much of their sexual self esteem on the value of their penis in stimulating female pleasure… the pill doesn’t have to be bitter, and once swallowed, it can be incredibly liberating… Sex is no longer penis-dependent, and we can let go of the usual anxieties about size, stamina, and performance.”

Ian Kerner — The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.

So please let’s stop talking about foreplay. Defining sex as a penis in a vagina means we are missing out on so much — like nipple-gasms, and ass-gasms, and plenty of other gasms we’ll discover along the way!

Stark Raving

Written by

Overthinker, writer, backpacker, intersectional feminist. More on my blog: starkraving.co.uk

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