Let’s Talk About Sex

“Sex only lasts like two minutes on average.”

It’s an offhand comment we’ve all heard too many times. It isn’t true: more recent studies put the average duration of PIV intercourse between three and thirteen minutes[1]. But that’s hardly the biggest problem here.

Sex only lasts” is the phrase. Not PIV intercourse (which is what the study typically cited measured), but sex. Sex starts when a penis enters a vagina, and ends when it stops (usually after ejaculation).

Everything else just doesn’t count. Well, a couple of things count, with qualifiers. Most people agree that anal sex is sex. People are more divided about oral sex, but there’s a sizable base of support for it. But that’s it.

There are problems with this definition.

Stamina is emphasized over quality of experience.
There are two measurements that are all too often used as a stand-in for male sexual prowess: cock size (usually length) and staying power. These are treated as more important markers of how good a man is in bed than either (any) participants’ actual enjoyment of the act. When men focus their energy on increasing latency to ejaculation* at the expense of reading partners’ reactions (or–god forbid–talking to them) and doing the most enjoyable things they can with their bodies, it’s real likely to lead to mediocre sex. A Vine that hits all your buttons is sexier than a three hour documentary about architecture**.

*Could I make that sound less sexy?
**Unless you have an architecture fetish. In which case, enjoy your documentary

All else is foreplay.
Foreplay isn’t “real” sex. It’s a rite to be observed before getting to the main attraction: always an appetizer, never the main course. If your goal is to have sex, foreplay is going to be rushed. It’s something to hurry through to get to the main event. It always comes before the main event. When sex is separated into foreplay and sex instead of treated as an inclusive experience, a lot gets excluded. There’s a progression of events. First base, second, third–and going backwards or deviating from these steps is considered a bad thing. It’s patently ridiculous.

Baseball: a terrible metaphor for sex. xkcd gets it.

Sex requires a man.
PIV is sex. PIA is sex (according to most). But two or more people without penises can’t have “real” sex, right? Men who can’t get erections or who prefer not to insert them into orifices don’t have “real” sex. And this gets so twisted: those men are treated as less masculine. Relationships between women carry less social weight. Sex is a pretty widely accepted marker of intimacy, so those romantic partnerships that can’t or don’t include sex don’t really count. I hope it’s obvious that this is misogynistic, homophobic, ableist, and (as usual) erasive of asexuality.

Sex is over when the erection is gone.
This belief is why every queer girl has to hear “so what do you even do in bed?” over and over again. (It’s a rude question, by the way. Also it makes us sad for you and we think it’s proof you have the most boring sex ever.) The sex does not have to end just because the cock is done/needs a break. There are so many things even the straightest of straight couples can do after (or between) male orgasm. Oral sex. Manual sex. Kinky play. Making out–one should never underestimate the intensity of kissing. Hell, put a strap-on on the guy and keep going. It’s one thing to choose to end a sexual encounter with male orgasm (I often do, in fact), but there is no reason it should be the default.

Straight cisgendered people: sex is so much more than you say it is.

Who doesn’t love sources?

1 Corty, E. W. and Guardiani, J. M. (2008), Canadian and American Sex Therapists’ Perceptions of Normal and Abnormal Ejaculatory Latencies: How Long Should Intercourse Last?. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5: 1251–1256.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Sex”

  1. Well said!

    Great sex can deliciously start with orgasm denial – turning sex duration from minutes to hours to days to… 🙂

    Interesting article! They even had a ‘too long’ category!

    1. Honestly? I’ve had unutterably amazing sex when PIV never happened. Also when PIV lasted only a few seconds. This works because PIV is not the only thing that gets me or my partners off.

      Too long is definitely a thing. After a certain point all that thrusting starts to feel like a workout instead of delicious fun. No thanks!

  2. I was just saying basically this in a discussion on FetLife. Someone asked whether women, on average, were as horny as men. I said I think yes. He said in his experience, women only want sex (as in PIV) with a guy who “understands their needs” or blah blah blah whereas all men need is a partner – any partner.

    I was like “Well yeah – because HETERO SEX IS DEFINED AROUND THE GUY’S ORGASM.” When “sex” means the guy does something stimulating to his dick until he comes, and the woman’s pleasure is not even mentioned, you’re gonna get fewer women into “sex.” DUH.

    I still don’t know if the guy who started the thread gets my point.

    1. *nod* the random one night stand was always better with a woman than a man. Men are all too often just looking to “get lucky”/”get laid” (as if sex were something we give them). Women tend to treat it more as a shared/mutual experience. All the difference in the world.

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