What is sex?

Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more

Hey everyone! My name is Mr. Promiscuous and welcome to Adult Conversations, the advice column where we have conversations about adult-themed things! Now, I’m sure your first question is: “Why would you call something that’s going to talk about sex things ‘Adult Conversations’?” Well, when I was a kid, I played a game called Suikoden II:


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From then on, that was my phrase of choice for talking about sex or sexual things. Maybe it’s a little goofy, but it’s what stuck..

That said, your second question would probably be, “Why talk about sex on a blog on the internet?.” Honestly, it’s because I have something to say, and it’s better to do something than to just stay quiet and hope someone else does the work for you.

I feel that a lot of people have questions about sex, but don’t want the negative stigma of ‘talking about sex’. They want to know more, but they don’t ask because they don’t want people to think badly of them. Others might do a quick google search, and find the most EXTREME™ side of a kink, sex act, or toy and immediately get too scared to explore. Making the conversation more casual, like you’re talking about the weather or that cool new Marvel TV show that was on last week, might make everyone more inclined to talk about it.

To help with THAT, I’m going to be taking questions about different topics and giving my best answer and, hopefully, learning some things and helping people along the way.

With THAT out of the way, on to the first question:

Dear Mr. Promiscuous,

    When I was a teenager, it seemed like everyone was super focused on which bases did and didn’t count as sex. Now that I’m an adult, I realize I never really got a satisfactory answer. Do you have to have penetration to count as sex? Does heavy enough petting count? What if you’re a lesbian?

Signed, Not 13 Anymore (she/her pronouns)

Dear Not 13 Anymore,

Firstly, congratulations on becoming an adult! Hopefully I will get there at some point.

In all seriousness, this is actually a little more complex than it seems. It can depend heavily on who you ask. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sex primarily as in gender:

“Either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.”

Now, gender is a really interesting topic and something that we could go into a long conversation about, but what we want to talk about is sexual intercourse; we’re talking about having sex versus having a sex. So, let’s see what the definition of sexual intercourse is:

1: Heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis

2: Intercourse (such as anal or oral intercourse) that does not involve penetration of the vagina by the penis

Thank you, dictionary; now I know that sex can be anything that involves or doesn’t involve penetration. That explains getting so hot and bothered when I do a load of laundry.

Obviously we need to get a better source.  Scarleteen, a sex-ed website geared towards teens and early adults, has a definition that I really like:

“When we say “sex,” what we mean is any number of different things people freely choose to do to tangibly and actively express or enact their sexuality; what they identify or know to be their sexual feelings.”

Now we’re talking! To break down a couple of things mentioned: your sexuality is how you express yourself as a sexual being, and sexual feelings are basically the things that get you “turned on”. Which means that anything that one or more consenting adults do together for the purposes of  sexual gratification would be considered sex. Sexual gratification is the fulfillment of one’s sexual desires. This usually, but not always, includes having an orgasm.

Given that definition, anything that’s done to fulfill yours and/or someone else’s sexual desires would be considered sex. If you’re kissing to be affectionate and because you like doing so, then that’s just a kiss. However, when the kissing is to help to the lead-up of sexual gratification for yourself or someone else, then it’s sex. More accurately, it is an action to stimulate yourself and/or another in such a way to help arousal, which is called foreplay. Which is a perfectly fine thing to do. I would honestly encourage it; it puts you and your partner in a great mindset for further activities. If you’re having sex with someone with a vagina, then foreplay can make the intended sex easier as it helps the vagina self-lubricate and makes penetrative sex easier.

That doesn’t mean, however, that sex HAS to involve penetration. There’s oral sex, where you use your mouth to stimulate your partner’s genitals. The heavy petting you mentioned can also be included as sex. There’s also masturbation (rubbing or manipulating your own genitals) as well as mutual masturbation (where masturbation becomes a cooperative sport).

Hopefully that has been helpful for you. But, there’s one more, very important thing to talk about as far as sex: the idea that there is no set way to do sex correctly. If everyone is enjoying themselves and you can relax and you feel good about what’s going on, that’s what’s important. It doesn’t matter if you’re by yourself, with one partner, or with several. Are there things that can be uncomfortable to do? Oh my, yes! Personally, shower sex continues to confound me as to how actual, normal-sized people tend to get that done unless they have a huge shower. But that doesn’t mean that shower sex is wrong; it’s just not something I enjoy.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Experiment with different things; set your own pace for how fast things should progress and talk to your partners. You’re all here to have fun, so if there’s something you want to try, bring it up. Is there something that they do that you don’t like? Tell them! Is it something you do like? Definitely tell them! No one comes pre-programmed to know what you do and don’t like in the bedroom, so the only way to learn is to just talk about it.

Hopefully I’ve been able to encourage you to do so and to maybe think of sex as more than ‘hotdogs in buns’. There is a veritable buffet of sexual things you can try, and there’s no reason to limit yourself.

Hope that cleared up some things for you,

Mr. Promiscuous

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