What Counts As Sex? Well, It Depends on Your Sexuality

What Counts As Sex? Well, It Depends on Your Sexuality

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Whenever a lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) friend says that they “had sex” with someone, it’s not always clear what counts as sex — does their definition of “sex” include oral sex and handjobs or just anal penetration? Researchers from the University of Utah set out to better understand how LGB people define “sex” in a new study recently published in The Journal of Sex Research, and it turns out the answer varies depending on which group you identify with.

The researchers conducted two separate studies using participants recruited from a local Pride Festival across two different years.

In the first study, they asked 329 LGB participants which sexual behaviors they included in their definition of sex and the sexual behaviors that they themselves had previously engaged in.

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In the second study, they asked 393 LGB participants they asked them what activities they thought of as “sex” when ascribed to their own behavior and that of their partner outside of their relationship.


So… what counts as sex for queer people?

Participants from both studies said that they primarily engage in handjobs (82%) and oral sex (79%), which somewhat mirrors the findings of a 2011 gay sex study. But while 90% of men defined sex as involving “penile-anal intercourse” — and over 50% also included oral-anal stimulation (“rimming”) as sex — women’s definitions weren’t as consistent.

About 70% of the women counted oral sex (and also the use of penetrative sex toys) as “sex.” Approximately 50% of women also considered acts of mutual genital stimulation as sex too.

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Interestingly, all of the queer people involved had stricter definitions of what constitutes “sex” for their partners than they did for themselves. Jealousy much?

The researchers said that their study was necessary because most sexual research so far has only covered the sex lives and outlooks of heterosexual people.


Featured image by LSOphoto via iStock

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