Rants, Feelings & Opinions

Anti-Penetration

August 11, 2017

Our cultural definition of sex is very dick-centric. But there’s a lot of ways to have fun that don’t involve sticking it in. By Karley Sciortino

This essay was originally written for the current issue of Purple magazine. Main image by Ren Hang.

Look, I like being fucked as much as the next guy. But there’s a time and a place for everything. And in my opinion, penetration is a grossly overused resource.

I don’t mean that people should have less sex. Entirely the opposite—people should have more sex, but in different and better ways. So often, in straight sex, we stick to the most conventional itinerary: First some kissing, then groping and hand stuff, then the girl gives a BJ, maybe the guy gives head, which all leads up to the main event: being pounded until the dick is satisfied. But that’s kind of boring, right? Sticking to an itinerary isn’t sexy. This might shock you, but you don’t have to stick your dick in to have a good time. Penetration isn’t necessary and it’s not always interesting. It’s time to (literally) think outside the box.

As a culture, we have an embarrassingly simplistic idea of what sex is. Essentially: Dick in vagina. When there’s no dick involved, our brains short circuit and sex becomes literally incomprehensible. This is why, when you’re a woman dating another woman, you often have to put up with drunk guys asking you: “But wait, how do lesbians even have sex, anyway?” They’re usually half joking, half serious. I’ve now honed a stock response: “It’s just like in lesbian porn,” I say. “We 69 wearing stilettos on the kitchen floor, and then after about five minutes our landlord comes in and fucks both of us.”

Some people even believe that, if you hook up with someone outside of your relationship, and do everything except stick your it in, then it wasn’t really cheating. Right. I find this bizarre, because in my experience, penetration is often the least intimate part of a sexual experience. Even the word “foreplay”—fore meaning “at the front of”—suggests that that all non-penetrative acts are just the appetizers, whereas penetration is the goal of sex. But what is sex if not an intimate sexual experience with another person? Maybe if we started to think of all intimate acts as equal, then we could actually slow down and enjoy the entire process more. When we focus solely on penetration, we forget about the pleasure of simply rubbing against someone.

In his book Sex Outside the Lines, sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue writes, “The concept of sex as penetration, with genitals as the tools, has vandalized the sexuality of all individuals … We determine which body parts are sexual by social definition and socialization, and we prioritize specific procreative based anatomy as sexual parts while illegitimizing the rest of the body. When pleasure, and no procreation, is the main goal of sex, the genitals are irrelevant, as erections and vaginal penetration are not required.” Essentially, expanding our idea of sex would make sex a lot less norm-ey, and a lot more pleasurable—especially for the woman.

I’m not saying that penetration is bad. Clearly, being inside someone and/or having someone inside you can be a very satisfying, pleasurable and intimate experience. And when you’re ready for it, taking a dick feels the best thing in the world. The problem is that some guys (and some girls, too) are so obsessed with getting it in that penetration happens far too fast, and far too often. Because when you’re not turned on, being fucked either feels painful or like inserting a tampon over and over. Depressing.

I primarily date men, but my most recent long term relationship was with a woman. In the years we were together, if felt like literally once a week someone would ask me: “But don’t you miss dick?” As if the penis is the holy grail of pleasure. As if dicks are the only dick-shaped things on earth. As anyone who’s ever thought about anything knows, hands and a mouth and toys can do everything that a dick can do—and far more. Straight people can learn a lot from queer communities, who have created myriad ways of having sex and getting off that don’t involve putting a dick in someone.

Most women can’t orgasm from penetration. In fact, only 25% of women are consistently orgasmic during vaginal intercourse. In other words, dicks aren’t the be-all-end-all of the orgasm. But because sex is often primarily about what feels good for the man, men don’t use their hands or mouth that much, because those acts are solely about the woman’s pleasure. While the increasing cultural conversation around female pleasure has genuinely helped this issue, statistically, women who sleep with women still report to having far more frequent orgasms during sex than women who sleep with men.

I actually wish more guys would get into pegging, because I think if men knew more about what it was like to get fucked, they would be better at fucking. The person doing the penetrating is the one in control, which mean you have to be more aware of the other person—you have to listen to their physical cues and gauge if they’re having pleasure or if you’re hurting them. If you’ve never been fucked, you’re not as good at this.

One of the hottest things about penetration is when you want it but can’t have it. Being teased and denied dick makes it so much more desirable. Basically, for a guy to put his dick in me, I should be begging for it. The moment when a woman is dying to be fucked is a rare and precious moment—guys should be on call, but not desperate :)

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