What does “good sex” mean to you? Good sex is a subjective term – for some, it involves adventure; for others, romanticism. With the coming of Valentine’s Day, we asked students a variety of questions about good sex, to get a look into what different Mt. A students are into.
In order to answer this question, 33 women from the cast of The Vagina Monologues were interviewed in a group. The introduction to last week’s Vagina Monologues performance reads: “Women love to talk about their vaginas, mainly because no one has ever asked them before.” This turned out to be true: These women were open about their sex lives, and a spontaneous, energetic discussion soon arose. Three men were also interviewed individually, and they, too, elaborated freely in their responses to our questions. Responses came from heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual individuals. Participants were either single, or in monogamous or polyamorous realtionships.
For some participants, good sex was defined by whether or not their partner was selfish in bed. “The overhanging goal of sex is orgasming, but perhaps that’s an ideological goal more than anything else. The more immediate goal of sex is to make your partner feel good,” said one man.
One woman suggested using reverse psychology on herself as a tool for good sex. Until recently, this woman had not had sex that resulted in her orgasm. Eventually, she forced herself to stop caring. “I said, ‘Fine, don’t come.’ to my body.” She enthusiastically exclaimed that as of that moment, she had begun to orgasm during sex.
Some participants felt that good sex involved creating a human connection, while others focused on clear, established boundaries beforehand. According to the latter, chemistry is necessary, but an emotional connection isn’t.
One participant said that the best sex of his life was with someone he had never met beforehand, and never saw – or even wanted to see – again. He said they had previously established that it was going to be a one-night stand.
Participants also identified factors of “good sex” as being secrecy, new places – particularly those precarious places where you run the chance of being walked in on – sex “without thinking about what it means,” as well as pauses to cuddle or have conversations before finishing. “Sex is like ice cream: all good, but far better when you take time to sample all of its flavours,” said one man.
Students were also asked a series of follow-up questions such as “What’s better – the foreplay or the actual sex?” and “What are your thoughts on enjoying sex without coming?” Many participants were quick to point out that the standard definition of foreplay is what some people consider sex.
This realization also led to more questions: Does oral sex count as foreplay or sex? Why are we even making a distinction? Many people agreed that having a partner perform oral sex is the best part of the sexual experience.
However, many also noted that to be enjoyable, foreplay has to be original—just going through the motions is boring. “I can’t get off without foreplay, but I absolutely hate the making-out part,” said one person.
“There comes a time during foreplay when I just really want to get fucked,” said another.
Next, participants were asked about their thoughts on sex without orgasm. It was impossible to avoid discussing the issue of the double standard surrounding orgasm. In our patriarchal society, when a man orgasms it is often taken to mean sex is over, even if his partner has not yet reached orgasm.
Many interviewees also pointed out that having an ultimate goal – orgasm – can sometimes take away from the fun of the sex itself. A few participants noted that before they began regularly having orgasms during sex with a partner, they “tried harder,” or were more excited, because of the uncertainty of what was going to happen.
“Now it’s a little too easy,” said one woman.
Furthermore, many participants noted their partners’ apparent need to make them come. Although all agreed that it was important to strive for equality in sexual relationships, some felt that reaching orgasm should not always be considered the be-all, end-all goal of a sexual interaction. If sex lasts too long, they sometimes get bored, even if they haven’t orgasmed. Some participants even noted getting distracted during sex—thinking about whether or not they had done their laundry or looking forward to garlic fingers.
Participants were asked how the length of intercourse influenced their experience. One man explained that for him, “speedy is better than a marathon.” Applying economic principles to sex, he pointed to “diminishing marginal returns.”
Finally, the discussion turned to safe sex. Most answered that safe sex goes beyond the boundaries of using protection—although both women and men reported having been pressured to not use contraception. Safe sex, in some participants’ minds, was emotional sex. For others, it was sex with established boundaries. The man who answered in the latter explained that safe sex makes for good sex because he can implement kinkiness into the encounter—something he wouldn’t do if he didn’t feel completely comfortable with his partner.