As a heterosexual woman, I’ve internalized the idea that penis is the end-all and be-all of the sexual experience. Whether it’s taking it down your throat or into your vagina, being penetrated is generally seen as the standard barometer for adult heterosexual sexytimes. This is something I’ve never thought to question or challenge this, but as I continue to write this column, I find myself examining everything I’ve ever thought about sex.
We all know traditional, P-in-V sex is intrinsically riddled with risks, and women bear the brunt of them. We take precautions to reduce it, but unless you’re abstinent, there is always a chance of anything from HPV (which is the leading cause of cervical cancer) to pregnancy. Men are afflicted with STDs just as often as we are, but they’re more likely to be asymptomatic. Obviously, anything in life has risks associated with it, but the more I think about it, the more the idea of P-in-V being the default is actually really weird.
There are a lot of different avenues people take to get off, and there is definitely a hierarchy of normal to outlandish. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the weirdest, oral and vaginal are generally considered to be on the lower end, anal and mild BDSM are somewhere in the middle, threesomes/ polyamory are higher above, and then there’s golden showers, adult breastfeeding, scat play, and other assorted things that most people balk at. But why is this hierarchy the way it is? Let’s be real. Urine is far more sterile than semen, but the vast majority of us would never swallow it (myself included). Getting tied up, handcuffed, or spanked carry far less risk than P-in-V, and yet, BDSM is still considered a fetish. But letting a man ejaculate inside us, inviting in his possibly infected semen and his most likely very fertile sperm into our vaginas considered totally normal, even when you have absolutely no interest in getting pregnant is vanilla. Um, what? Now I’m definitely not someone who believes P-in-V should be reserved strictly for procreation purposes. I love being penetrated, and I need it to orgasm. But I wonder if I would be into it if society didn’t treat it as being run-of-the-mill fare, if we actually treated it with the amount of healthy skepticism that it deserves.
I know women who have admitted that they don’t enjoy P-in-V, that they do it out of an obligation to their partners, which is beyond depressing. Intercourse should be pleasant for both partners involved, and it’s disheartening that women are engaging in this activity that they don’t enjoy because it is expected of them, by their partners and by society. Yes, many women do find penetration arousing, but it’s not an obligation. It’s totally fine to skip it altogether, to just make out or receive massages or roll around naked or get spanked or whatever it is that tickles your fancy. There is no right or wrong way to have sex, as long as you’re doing it consensually.