What do we mean when we say sex?


If you can’t see the video, click here.

Here’s how our interviews usually go:
Us: How do you define ‘virgin?’
Them: A virgin is someone who’s never had sex.
Us: OK, what’s sex?
Hilarity and confusion ensues, as seen is this clip, above, from our doc-in-progress “How to Lose Your Virginity.”


Happily, Heather Corinna at our favorite sex-ed site Scarleteen has waded into this murky topic for our benefit. And not surprisingly, there’s no simple response to that question. but the answers are fascinating and illuminating for even the most experienced sexual human. Here’s what she says:

When SOME people say “sex” they only mean penis-in-vagina genital intercourse. Some other people use it to mean any kind of genital sex. But when we mean those specific things, we’ll say that we’re talking about those specific things. When some people say “having sex” they mean something that can only happen in some kinds of partnership — like a marriage, or a strictly male body/female body partnership — but when we mean specific partnerships or relationships, we’ll be specific.

When WE say “sex” we’re talking about very big picture. That’s because what sex is or isn’t for any given person or partnership not only differs a whole lot from person-to-person, it also can differ a whole lot from day-to-day for any one person: the way they had sex yesterday may not be the way they’ll have sex next week. One person might consider that only intercourse or oral sex is sex, but someone else may both define sex differently and have what’s sex for them without doing either of those things.

For Scarleteen’s entire list on what sex can be, check out their comprehensive list. Hey, you know what’s not on the list? Rape and sexual abuse. You know what is on the list? Deep manual sex. We virginity experts had no clue what it was, but now we do. Thanks for keeping us in the know, Scarleteen!

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