Define sex

I have friends, both gay and straight, who have differing definitions of what sex is. [insert obligatory Bill Clinton joke here] Some say sex is anal or vaginal penetration, period. Some say it also includes fellatio, but not mutual masturbation. Some say it’s whenever they achieve orgasm, regardless of the means. Some say it’s whenever you get naked with someone, roll around and kiss, whether you achieve climax or not.

By some of these definitions, I know people who have been sexually active for years (meaning kissing, mutual masturbation, cunnilingus, analingus, and/or fellatio, which they call “just fooling around”) yet describe themselves as virgins or as “only had sex with X number of people” because there was no anal or vaginal penetration.

So, really - what is sex?

Just to get the obvious out of the way (from - I underlined the important bits):

Even the dictionary allows that sex means both penetration and activities other than penetration.

Discuss. :wink:


I assume that you are asking for our personal beliefs, not necessarily an elucidation of the Platonic ideal of sex (sort of the like the hypothetical perfect circle.) In that case I would include any penetration of the mouth/vagina/anus by the penis, but also including cunnilinguous. I would say those that digitally stimulate each other can still call themselves virgins, but I suppose others may feel differently

Interesting question.

For myself, I’m inclined to say that anything directly involving intentionally sexual contact with my primary erogenous zones (and another person) counts as sex.

Since I’ve never had any of that, still a virgin. :smiley:

But, I think it’s not something that can be nailed down so easily. Everyone views such intimate matters differently.

if there are any genitals involved, it’s sex. Kissing, for example, is not sex.

I’m pretty sure it has to involve genitals somewhere.

[Jerry Seinfeld]I would say, when the nipple makes its first appearance.[/Seinfeld]
I would agree with SisterCoyote’s definition. Any physical contact, especially invloving genitalia, engaged in for the purpose of erotic gratification.


Whatever you wouldn’t do with your mother.

This would be referring to cybersex? :wink:

Actually, though that’s meant as a joke, where would long-distance sex fall into the definition? Cybersex? E-mail sex? Phone sex? Where is the line drawn for these sorts of activities?

Personally, I’m not convinced that there is a line, but that’s me…

No, I wouldn’t consider cybersex or phonesex to be sex. Someone somewhere has to be physically bumping nasties with you.

Sex is only intercourse under the covers in the missionary position with the shades drawn and the lights off.

Everything else is defined by OED as doing tha nasty!


Sex (AFAIC) is stimulation of the good-feelin’ parts, regardless of whether it is to orgasm or not.


36 dicks!?


*Originally posted by Avalonian *

At the risk of being wooshed, I’d just like to say that in this context “digitally” means “via the digits”, i.e. good old fashioned use of the fingers. :rolleyes:

Some of you have mentioned that you would include oral sex in the definition of sex. However, does this only count as sex for the one recieving it? What about the one giving it? Does it make any difference?

I like to define sex as involving both (assuming it’s two people) parties’ genitals in contact with one another, orgasm or not.

So anal intercourse isn’t sex, but penis fencing is?

Esprix, thanks for starting this. After my disasterous Pit thread, I wanted to start a thread along these lines, but hestitated because of how badly that one turned out.

It always struck me as wrong that women who were raped were considered to be non-virgins even if that rape was their only sexual experience. While they certainly know all the horrors of sex, they know none of the good points. To me, it’s like lumping someone who’d been on a plane that was hijacked to Cuba and saw no more of Cuba than the airport with someone who had visited the place on vacation. They’re two entirely different things, IMHO.

I’d have to say that SisterCoyote pretty much nailed the definition.

Sarcasm never plays well over the web, does it? I thought the winky-smile would have covered the fact that I knew perfectly well what you meant, but was amused that you used the word “digitally” in a digital bulletin board.

Do I really need to point out that I used “digital” in two different ways in my last sentence?

sigh Never mind.

How about this for a definition of sex:

Sex is good, though all good things are not necessarily sex. But a lot of them are.

Too vague for most, I’m sure, but at least it excludes rape…

IIRC, on “Will and Grace” they were counting the number of partners they each had, and their standard was “how you lost your virginity.”

This is a beautiful statement, considering the topic.

I would say that at least one person’s genitals should be involved. In other words, I wouldn’t count being digitally stimulated by my boyfriend as “sex”. Sexual contact for sure, but I sure as heck considered myself a virgin afterwards.

Seems like “penetration” would seem to be necessary, yet I can still think of situations where even that wouldn’t be necessary (i.e. “sex” between two women).

I think what colors my judgement is that oral sex was something I experienced after I experienced genital sex. So I probably would hesitate to call someone who has only performed/received oral sex as “not a virgin”. But it seems like a real fine technicality.