A study by the Kinsey Institute found that only 65% of straight women experienced orgasm during sexual activity, compared to 95% of straight men. Dr. Laurie Mintz, author of the bestselling book Becoming Cliterate says, “We use the words sex and intercourse synonymously, and relegate clitoral stimulation to “foreplay” or that which comes before the main act of intercourse.”
We have a problem with sex.
We are obsessed with sex, but struggle to understand and experience sexual health. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as more than just an absence of disease, but something requiring “a positive respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships and the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.” Our understanding of sexual health scaffolds our view of and approach to sex not just for ourselves, but for our society as a whole.
We have a problem with sex and we need to reinvent it. This doesn’t mean reinventing sex acts, fun as that may sound. It means reframing and redefining what sex is and can be.
The #Relearn campaign, created by O.School, provides tools for better conversations about sexuality, and helps reinvent some current definitions, including the most commonly accepted definitions of “sex.”
So, at O.School, our proposal for a new definition of sex is this: a period of time allotted to experience pleasure and/or connection.
So, how does that reinvent sex?
First, it shifts the focus from body parts to people. Sex is no longer defined as body part X in or on body part Z. It opens up sexual experience to exploration, to experimentation, and to communication. It is inclusive of the entire, beautiful spectrum of bodies, genders and sexualities in our world. Sex can happen if there is some combination other than a penis and a vagina present. It makes sex accessible to those whose bodies may not work the way that society deems they should. Sex can happen without an erection. Sex can happen without penetration.
Second, this new definition does not make one person’s pleasure
more important than another’s. There’s not the scripted, rote, and typical foreplay-then-sex. There’s...sex. Connection. Seeking pleasure. Sex is not over when one person has an orgasm. Sex is over when you determine it is. What is pleasurable, what creates connection for you, alone or partnered?
Third, it more clearly defines the distinction between enthusiastic consent and sexual misconduct. One person being in a position of power over another does not allow real connection. Use of force, coercion, or manipulation is not connection. So it is not sex. It is assault. It is violation. This new definition of sex requires conversation, communication, and consent: This is what I enjoy. What makes you feel good? Do you like this? Would you want to try this with me?