When you write a column about sex, it’s sometimes too easy to get caught up in your own assumptions about sex. I’m female and cisgender (meaning my traditional gender identity matches my biological sex) and I have sex with men. This is not true for everybody. Therefore, this column will be devoted to talking about when sex isn’t sex, or at least not in a PIV (penis-in-vagina), mass-media, popular, Superbad-esque conception of sex. What’s more, even for those who enjoy heterosexual PIV sex, it’s a shame to get so focused on just one out of a variety of sexual, sensual and intimate activities that we can pick and choose from.
As a younger teenager, sex seemed to be the final frontier, the culmination of all the sticky kisses and hurried attempts at fingering in the woods at a field party, heated by an illicit swig from one of those two-litre plastic bottles of Strongbow. Though there’s nothing wrong with teenagers going, in the vernacular “all the way”, I definitely believe that there’s a lot to be got from trying and perfecting other activities first (not to mention the decreased chance of a mid-AS Levels pregnancy). Treating kissing, ‘manual’ sex, oral sex and everything other than straightforward penetration as just foreplay means they tend to be seen as peripheral to the main event. “Foreplay” can be fun and sexy in its own right, and the more you do, the more varied your sexual relationship will be. Plus, if you’re going on to have intercourse, the more you prepare your body by getting really turned on, the better the sex will be.
Kissing is something that, I feel, when you’ve discovered all the other stuff (oral sex, intercourse etc), can be left behind a little. Quite a few people will identify with the ‘how did we get here so fast’ feeling – you snog for a couple of minutes then BAM your clothes jump off and you’re getting it on. On the other hand, there are those who view kissing, not so much as a sensual meeting, as an excavation. Whilst, obviously, individual tastes will vary, as a basic rule, if you’re making tongue-to-molar contact, you’ve gone too far.
Moving swiftly on, we have “manual sex”. “Manual” is a bit of a clunky and creepy label, so basically here we’re talking about doing things to each other with your hands. There are many pages and advice columns devoted to advice in this area, all of which can be condensed into one fundamental rule: if you’re touching a penis, no tugging. (Unless, of course, he’s into that. Best to ask first though.) For girls, it’s much more straightforward: CLIT CLIT CLIT CLIT CLIT. I can’t emphasise it enough. There may be variations on this theme, but at all costs, avoid the vigorous in-and-out action of behind-the-bikesheds fame.
Finally, we have good old oral. In my experience, men’s attitudes to going down on a girl vary wildly. Some shy away as if it’s a fetish equivalent to ball gags or pegging. Some love it so much that it’ll take forcible extraction to prise them away, convinced that going sub-aqueous is the only way to please, emerging after half an hour, shiny faced and with debilitating cramp in their jaw.
In at the deep(ish) end of the oral spectrum, we’ll tackle everyone’s favourite position, 69. Although, theoretically, the mutuality of the exchange is ideal, in reality you’re getting an eyeful of pendulous and untended testicle. If they’re of a low-hanging variety, and you’re underneath, you’ll end up with some sort of genital veil/blindfold. 69 is novel but usually not conducive to sexual fulfilment: when in the throes of passion, multitasking can be something of a challenge.
So there we have it. Spend some time perfecting your techniques and trying new things. Sometimes the sexiest thing is someone who is willing to try – you don’t even need to be great at it but enthusiasm is always appreciated. There are many varieties of sex which don’t involve putting a penis in a vagina, and when we talk about sex we should remember that it’s not the same for everyone (thus making most of what I’ve just said entirely irrelevant). Limiting yourself to Cosmo’s top ten orgasm rules, which tend to be strictly of the PIV variety, means that you’ll miss out on positions, experiences and sensations that, to me, are the cherry on an otherwise rather tasteless cake.