My friends and I were talking about when we lost our virginities recently, and I said, without thinking, “15.” It’s when I first had sex, after all. But I wasn’t expecting the follow-up question — was it with a girl or guy? Can you lose your virginity to a girl if you are a girl? How do lesbians lose their virginity? What counts as sex?
The weird thing is that I hadn’t really thought about it. When it comes to hetero sex, everyone knows what counts, and I just thought it was the same with lesbian sex. You know when you’ve had sex, amiright? But then comes the inevitable, “How does it count, though? How is it different from “real sex”? I find it so frustrating when lesbian sex is compared to “real sex” — because it is real sex! But the number of people who belittle it — or dismiss it outright — would make your head spin. Lesbian fingering, cunnilingus — there are reasons these are called “finger f*cking” and oral sex, because they are sex.
“Our culture is so fixated on vaginal penetration with a penis constituting ‘sex,’ as that was a standard set a long time ago. It may be helpful for legal purposes but not in terms of consensual sexual expression,” Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. “In the age of fluidity and choice, when we look at lesbian relationships it serves as an example that the definition of sex can be broadened,” she adds, noting oral sex, lesbian fingering, or using a sex toy on a same-gendered partner. “They are all sex acts. The real question is... does it matter? Let each person define virginity for themselves and communicate their definition to their partner(s).”
Exactly. I think it’s important not to judge anyone else’s experience. How weird is it to tell someone that what feels like a sexual encounter to them doesn’t actually count as one? We don’t need to be gatekeeping sex acts. Besides, everyone is different: Some people think oral is more intimate than penis-in-vagina sex. Some lesbians use strap-ons or dildos; others don’t. They’re not doing it in a “I just wish this was more like sex with a man” kind of way. So we need to stop comparing.
So How Do Lesbians Lose Their Virginity?
It’s deeply personal. Honestly, I really wish we could de-mythologize the concept of “virginity” — lesbian or otherwise. But its position as some kind of marker seems to remain. So I would say that anything that involves genitals probably counts as lesbian sex. And, yes, I know there’s the argument that a lot of people don’t count fingering, sex toy play, or oral sex as “sex” with a man, but if you’ve been intimate, if you feel like you’ve had sex, then you’ve had sex.
Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure