“What is lesbian sex?” “How do two women have sex?” “What does lesbian sex look like?”
While these questions may sound like a horny teenager’s search history, minus the spelling errors, it’s actually something most queer women are forced to awkwardly google during their coming out process.
Because no one ever talks about lesbian sex. And that’s a massive problem. [Skip to the bottom if you want actual instruction on how to have lesbian sex]
By the time I was twelve years old, I was way too well versed in precisely how a woman and man made love. Thanks to extensive Fertility Awareness classes (or the clever name my Catholic grammar school used for sex education), I could recite exactly how two opposite gendered people came together, in the glory of God, to be fruitful and multiply.
I even had a general idea of how two men engaged in sexual intercourse due to the critique of sodomy from church officials. However, there never even seemed to be any discussion about women wanting to be intimate with other women. Even now, whenever the topic of lesbian sex comes up, the general public’s response is typically, “mmm…what?”
The particularly brave ones will then turn a little red, lean close and whisper,“So…how exactly do lesbians have sex anyway?”
I don’t fault people for asking this question. Unfortunately, society has conditioned us to believe that sex must be a penetrative act. If there’s no obvious possibility of penetration (aka a penis), then sex simply can’t occur! Not only is this an extremely reductive view of making love, it also hinges almost entirely on the satisfaction of a man.
According to several studies, women are “not really constructed to have an orgasm from intercourse alone. The clitoris is where all the nerve endings are [and] there are almost none in the barrel of the vagina.” So, why do we still view sex with such a narrow and singular focus? If the end goal is simply penetration, then every other element of the experience is expendable. It just hinders a couple’s ability to explore different forms of intimacy.
This is problematic because it assumes 1) that all queer men engage in penetrative sex 2) that no queer women want penetrative sex and 3) that straight/fluid women should only be concerned with satisfying their male partners. [Not to mention, it doesn’t consider the different forms of intimacy expressed in transgender relationships.]
As shocked as Christian extremists may be, not all queer men are into anal sex and lesbians are capable of enjoying penetration without liking men. The expression of sexual intimacy between two same-sex partners is extremely personal. It extends far beyond the diminutive view of sex as just putting a “penis in a hole.”
Sex between two women particularly makes society uncomfortable because it challenges the notion that women are inherently less sexual than men. To borrow the immortal words of R&B star Summer Walker, “Girls can’t never say they want it. Girls can’t never say how. Girls can’t never say they need it. Girls can’t never say now.”
In female-male relationships, it’s assumed that the man initiates intercourse because he has an insatiable sexual urge and the woman simply complies. However, in female-female relationships, the presence of a male is obviously lacking. This makes it difficult for people to understand that sex can still occur…and frequently.
In fact, a recent study suggests that same-sex partners “are better at bringing their lovers to ecstasy than their heterosexual counterparts.” 86% of gay women surveyed report that they always orgasm from sex while only 65% of heterosexual women claim the same. Additionally, queer women are known to have sex for longer periods and “are happier with their sex lives” than straight women.
Due to the lack of discussion about how two women actually engage in sexual activity, most people use pornography as their frame of reference. Unfortunately, the vast majority of lesbian porn is created by men for the satisfaction of other men. This makes it highly unrealistic and entirely void of any instructional value. [If you see any woman coming toward you with a stiletto during sex, RUN].
But young queer women, who have no other means of learning about lesbian sex, sometimes turn toward this type pornography for answers. For instance, in an attempt to understand her sexual urges, Elena Alvarez on Netflix’s One Day at a Time begins watching a sexually explicit video of two women and one man having sex. Since her parents have never given her the “queer sex talk,” she becomes curious about intimacy between two women. But she doesn’t know the proper place to turn for answers or explanations, so she resorts to porn.
However, this isn’t an accurate depiction of how two women actually have sex, let alone form a romantic relationship with each other. Their interactions are obviously distorted by the male gaze.
The inaccessibility of queer sex education is exactly why LGBTQIA+ content, created by queer people with affirming representations of sexual expressions, is so vital today.
Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays the titular character in the queer film the Miseducation of Cameron Post, spoke in depth about the importance of filming realistic queer sex scenes. “The ways that female sex and female pleasure are depicted on-screen has never been naturalistic… And to see that finally depicted on-screen is a perfect depiction of not just a female lens, but a queer female lens.”
Desiree Akhavan, the movie’s director, echoed Moretz’s sentiments when asked how the movie navigates the complexities of female sexuality without falling prey to the soft core porn trope. “I’m not a perv…There’s a lot of authenticity [since] I’m a queer woman.”
Naturally portraying sexual intimacy between two people of the same gender is imperative to helping young queers develop a healthy sexuality. While there’s nothing wrong with a man having a high sex drive or with a woman having a low sex drive, it’s vital to accurately depict a full spectrum of sexual expression. Too often, gay men are exclusively portrayed as hyper sexual while lesbian women are viewed as more likely to build a dresser than engage in sexual activity.
But, just like their straight counterparts, queer people are extremely diverse. Some are very interested in sex, some are mildly interested and some aren’t at all. All of these approaches are normal and natural.
For instance, in the queer romantic comedy Love, Simon, the title character falls in love with a man named “Blue”. Despite never even knowing what he looks like, Simon becomes enamored with Blue’s intelligence, humor and kindness. This genuine love story is a great foil to the damaging stereotypes of lustful male-male relationships. It’s entirely void of promiscuity and relies solely upon an intense emotional connection. Their love is genuine and sweet.
Then you have female characters like Sara Lance. She’s a fierce bisexual woman who captains a team of superheroes on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. She’s interested in women, she’s interested in men and she has a nearly insatiable sex drive. Throughout the duration of the series, Sara routinely sleeps with multiple women. She’s unapologetic about her sexual desires and won’t tolerate any form of slut shaming. As long as it’s consensual, Sara does exactly what she wants, to who she wants, when she wants.
Until recently, (when she established a steady and adorable relationship with lesbian clone, Ava Sharpe) Sara embodied the stereotypical masculine sex drive.
Both Simon’s and Sara’s storylines are necessary additions to queer storytelling. They illustrate the multifaceted nature of same-sex relationships. Gay pairings are not always entirely focused upon sex and lesbian couplings can be entirely focused on sex.
The definition of sex will always vary from person to person even in female-male relationships. So, an honest discussion about boundaries and expectations is incredibly important when considering intimacy with someone.
As a society, I hope we can move away from considering sex as nothing more than a penetrative act.
How to have lesbian sex:
I’m nowhere near qualified to be a sex education teacher [not to mention my mom reads my blog]. However, I will direct you to someone who explores lesbian sex honestly, instructively and hilariously: Stevie Boebi. She’s a very popular YouTuber, who hosts the first ever Lesbian Sex Education video series. You can watch her lesbian sex playlist here! In addition to videos about sex, Stevie often broaches topics that other creators are far too uncomfortable to discuss. Check her out!