“Does (X) Count?” What Sex Is, And Why The Question Matters: The Blowfish Blog

Question_marksvg_2I have a new piece up on the Blowfish Blog. It’s about the question of how we define sex… and why that question has serious, real-world consequences. It’s titled, Does (X) Count?” What Sex Is, And Why The Question Matters, and here’s the teaser:

It was a letter to Scarleteen, the “sex advice for teenagers” website. It’s a longish letter, and a longer response (both are well worth reading in their entirety), but the title will immediately tell you what’s going on and why I think it’s important.

The title:

“We’re abstinent, but we had anal sex and are scared to death.”


The story is almost exactly what you probably think it is. Two teenagers, who have decided to be abstinent until marriage, are playing an extended game of “everything but,” avoiding penis- in- vagina intercourse but otherwise engaging in activities that would make Larry Flynt blush. Including, as you may have guessed from the title of the letter, anal sex.

But because they’re not having what they consider Sex — namely, penis- in- vagina intercourse — they’re not taking responsibility for the fact that they’re in a sexual relationship. They’re not practicing safer sex, and the things they’re doing could easily result in the passing on of sexually transmitted diseases, and even pregnancy. (As the Scarleteen advisor points out, unprotected anal intercourse can result in pregnancy, since semen isn’t very good about staying put.)

To find out more about this notion of the One True Sex and how it screws up people’s sex lives, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!


  1. says

    Look, if it involves the sexual organs of at least one person, it’s sex. It is probably still sex even in other circumstances. Let’s not overly privelige the whole PIV thing (as fond of it as I am) and let lots of things be called real sex and learn about them and deal with them accordingly.

  2. says

    “Look, if it involves the sexual organs of at least one person, it’s sex.”
    Actually, I think that definition has problems, too. For one thing, it would make a gynecological exam sex (and an erotic flogging not-sex). I think context and intention are a central part of what makes sex sex.

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