Sexualized Saturdays: A Little Less Penetration, A Little More Action

“I know fanfic authors, well, I know what they like.”

“I know fanfic authors, well, I know what they like.”

So many of you may have realized by this point that I have been pretty heavily into Teen Wolf recently. No, don’t worry, this post isn’t about Teen Wolf too, but it was when reading some Teen Wolf fanfiction recently that I noticed something that I thought was pretty cool.

Many of the fanfics I read did not define a loss of virginity with penetration. There was more than one fanfic I read were mutual masturbation or oral sex were defined as enough of a sex act to be considered as “actually having sex.”

Now I’m not saying on the whole that every Teen Wolf fanfic is like this. I think it is more likely I just ended up reading a string of fics that define sexual intercourse more broadly than penetrative sex. That being said, I find it incredibly interesting that more fanfics are beginning to define sex and virginity more broadly. The reason I find this so interesting is because even now you have plenty of people who declare for sex to be “real sex” there must be some kind of penetration. No penetration, no sex.

As you can imagine this is frighteningly heterosexist and extremely problematic when we talk about virginity.

Here Laci Green explains how virginity in many ways is a social construct, because it is so subjective. You could argue there was a point when virginity wasn’t subjective, but that’s largely because these ideas grew out of a sexist and heterosexist society that did not take the experience of LGBTQ people, or hell even straight women, into account.

Losing your virginity can’t be as simple as your hymen breaking because, as the above video pointed out, your hymen can break from many different things. Plus, your hymen doesn’t actually break, it actually stretches, and the ‘breaking’ thing is tied to sexist ideas about men being able to ‘take’ women’s virginity, but that’s not really the point right now. Furthermore, this notion of virginity doesn’t include men at all, nor does it include the experiences of LGBTQ people.

This leads some people to define sex, “real sex” and thus a loss of virginity, as only involving penetration, because well, everyone can do that right? Straight couples can have vaginal intercourse, gay men can anal sex, and lesbians can finger… but wait, now we start running into problems. If a straight couple has anal sex, but not vaginal sex, is that still “real sex?” Did both partners lose their virginity? Some people consider fingering not “real sex” even though there is penetration, because it doesn’t involve genital to genital toughing. I have many lesbian, bisexual, and queer female friends that have told stories about how straight men will come up to them and ask, “so how do you have sex with other women without a penis?”

Really? Really?!

This just shows how heterosexist the idea of penetration equals sex really is. It really makes me happy to see more and more fanfics that seem to be moving away from this idea that penetration equals sex. Most fanfiction focuses on homosexual relationships, so it only makes sense that this limited definitions of sex would have to be tossed away.

However, this leads to a complication: if sex is more than just penetration, then what counts as sex? When does one actually lose their virginity? Yes, our previous notions of virginity don’t really work anymore, but I do think there is at least a spiritual or psychological difference before and after one has sex. I definitely think there is a difference between having no sexual experience and then having sexual experience. But I think Laci is right in saying that it is something we need to define for ourselves.

However, I am happy to see that some fandom authors are moving away from more archaic notions of what sex and virginity entails, because it gives voice to more than just straight people in our culture. In this instance, I would hope that mainstream pop-culture would take a look at how our fandoms are starting to grow and learn, and learn something themselves.