According to a past Pornhub review, “lesbian” was the second most popular search term worldwide, and the most popular in the United States. Apparently, everybody loves to watch the ladies get it on. Unfortunately, that doesn’t often translate to understanding or respect in the real world.

As a queer woman, sex does not refer only to the textbook definition of sexual intercourse, which explicitly mentions “the insertion of a man’s erect penis into a woman’s vagina.” Sex can be penetrative or not, and it’s highly situational. A man going down on a woman may not be considered sex by some individuals, but most women dating other women consider oral sex to be sex.

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While, in theory, how individuals have sex shouldn’t be anyone’s business, this isn’t the reality. Since two women are less likely to have sexual intercourse according to a dictionary, every drunk guy seems to believe he is justified in asking, “So how do you, you know, do it?” when he learns my sexual identity.

While the correct answer is, “None of your goddamn business,” I understand the confusion. The definition of sex gets messy as soon as traditional ideas are discarded. Being part of the LGBT community blurs the lines to an even greater degree, but some of these new ideas apply to straight couples as well. Defining sex isn’t as simple as using a dictionary anymore, and clarification is the best way to combat ignorance.

Sex Doesn’t Require A Penis

Nosy people at bars love to ask how queer girls have sex. Do we use a strap-on? Who wears it? Isn’t anything else just foreplay? Not only are these questions intrusive and annoying, but they’re also close-minded. Let’s get this out of the way: lesbians can have sex. Any girl who is with another girl can have sex. In most cases, they can’t have traditional sexual intercourse, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have sex.

In a relationship between two women, sex can be defined in many different ways. Any activity that involves the removal of a significant amount of clothing and the attempt to pleasure at least one partner will usually fall into the category of sex. This can involve mouths, fingers, or toys of any kind.

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The most common kind of sex between women is what many people would consider foreplay. Penetration, using fingers, and oral sex are staples of the queer world. The most common objection to this is that it’s “not really sex.” In the traditional sense of sexual intercourse, this is true. Instead, the focus is on pleasure or the emotional connection between the two people.

For queer girls, oral sex and fingering can be a first memory of going down on a girl and being terrified and excited all at once because of the feeling that it is new but so right. It can be going home with that cute brunette from the bar and tumbling into bed with her before waking up with all kinds of regrets. It can be a way to show someone you love how you want to make them feel. Those emotional connections and pleasure are not invalid because nobody has a penis, and, in that sense, those two women are having sex.

That doesn’t mean that every queer girl is comfortable or familiar with oral or fingering. There are many queer women who don’t enjoy penetration and others who don’t enjoy oral. Some girls are okay with being the receiver of this kind of sex but don’t like to give, and vice versa. The focus in the definition of sex is the connection and shared experience, more than the actual form.

Our Dildos Are Not Penises

Some queer girls use strap-ons to provide themselves and their partners with pleasure. The first major misconception about strap-ons is that they are a substitute for a penis. Strap-ons are a way for queer girls to have sex in a way that more closely resembles traditional sexual intercourse, but that doesn’t mean they want a penis involved. Dildos come in many shapes and sizes and can provide benefits for both the wearer and the receiver.

Some harnesses contain a vibrator that pleasures the wearer. Some dildos can be used without a harness, allowing the giver to feel their actions more precisely. Regardless of the type of harness and dildo that a couple chooses, it does not reveal a secret desire for a penis. The clearest explanation I’ve ever heard is “dildos aren’t shaped like a penis; they’re shaped like the inside of a vagina.”

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The second major misconception about strap-ons is that only one partner wears them. Some queer women don’t enjoy penetration, even with fingers. In this case, one partner might enjoy wearing the strap-on but not receiving. In other couples, the two women might switch, or have different dildos that they each prefer.

Sometimes it depends on the day or somebody’s mood. It is not always the more masculine girl who wears the strap-on, and often there isn’t a more masculine girl in the relationship at all. The use of a strap-on is not limited to one partner, and no one can, or should, make assumptions based on traditional gender roles. In this instance, what a couple does in the bedroom is not easily stereotyped.

Not every queer couple owns a strap-on. Many queer girls have no interest in them. Some same-sex female couples own other toys such as vibrators instead of, or along with, a strap-on. Those that do own one use it for their own or their partner’s pleasure. In short, the use of a strap-on is no one’s business but the couple using it.

Stop Asking About Scissoring

Scissoring is not as common as porn might lead you to believe. While it may be a way for some queer couples to have sex, it is not something that most people are familiar with. This is mostly because getting one clit to touch another is difficult and complicated. Some queer girls enjoy and participate in scissoring regularly, but they are the minority. The rest of the girls will laugh at you if you suggest that it’s the most common form of lesbian sex.

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Orgasm is Not Always the Goal

The final point of confusion about sex between queer women is about how we know when we’re finished. Since, theoretically (and sometimes in reality), we could continue to have sex all night, with no recuperation period necessary, the end of a sexual encounter may not always be easily distinguishable. The focus on an orgasm is diminished and varies a lot from couple to couple.

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Since many queer female couples have sex in many ways that don’t require mutual pleasure, sex isn’t always over when just one partner finishes. Sex may be over when there have been multiple orgasms, or none, it depends on the couple and the situation. By removing orgasms as the goal, the definition of sex is broadened once again. The point of sex isn’t to achieve orgasm, but to provide your partner with pleasure. If you both orgasm easily, sex may go on for a long time or until you’ve both finished. If one or both of you has more trouble orgasming, sex may end when that partner decides they’ve had enough. This creates a focus on making sure that both parties enjoy sex however they can. While orgasms may not always be possible for both parties, communication can create a focus on the enjoyment of sex. It’s okay if there’s no big finale.

Orgasms are great. I think most Slutty Girls are in agreement about that. However, orgasms are also very different for each person. Some girls find it easy to orgasm, while others can’t always get there. Putting pressure on anyone to orgasm is a great way to ruin the moment.

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Sex between queer girls is a topic of interest and a topic of misinformation. Sex isn’t defined the same way in a queer relationship, but it doesn’t diminish in its importance. The emotional connection and physical pleasure of sex are just as relevant between queer women. While the confusion about queer sex is understandable, being interrogated about your sex life isn’t fun. Respectful questions are how people learn, but there is a time and a place to ask, and many of the details may be none of your business. If you’d feel comfortable telling this person exactly what positions you like and how loud you are in bed, then you’re probably at a level where you can ask.

In reality, sex between queer women is the same as sex between anyone else – it’s a way to connect with someone, either for fun or to show emotion and a way to bring a relationship to a new level. The actual action is far less important.