Lesbian Sexual Techniques
From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
A lesbian is generally defined as a woman whose principal sexual attraction is toward other women and who, as a result, engages mainly in homosexual acts with women. The specific form these sexual acts take varies widely, just as it does with heterosexual sexual activity. Lesbian sex is anything sexual that women do together and is, therefore, difficult to generalize about. There are, however, sexual practices and issues that are common across the lesbian community.
Perhaps the greatest distinction of lesbian sex is that it does not involve male genitalia and is, therefore, not centered around sexual intercourse. Activities that in many heterosexual unions are regarded as “foreplay” take on a greater importance in lesbian sex, and may be engaged in for longer periods of time than is common between men and women. Touching, kissing, licking, and sucking are the primary techniques of sexual arousal, with lesbians generally regarding the entire body as the sensual field of play. Breasts are highly erogenous and many lesbians enjoy playing with each other’s nipples—rolling them between their fingers,kissing them with their mouth, circling them with their tongue. Because both partners have breasts, lesbians can also enjoy the sensation of pressing their breasts against those of their partner, stimulating their own nipples as they arouse those of their lover.
A sexual technique that is frequent in lesbian sex is body-to-body rubbing. The genital area of one partner is pressed hard and rubbed against the leg or thigh of the other. A common variation is “tribadism,” where two women lie face to face, one on top of the other. The genitals are pressed tightly together while the partners move in a grinding motion. Some rub their clitoris against their partner’s pubic bone. In the nineteenth century lesbians were sometimes referred to as “tribades,” and for many years racy French novels depicted tribadism as the main lesbian sexual activity. An advantage of tribadism is that it allows the hands and mouth to be free to stimulate other areas of the body.
Touching and rubbing the clitoris and other genitals with one’s fingers is enjoyed by most lesbians. vibrators may also be used to stimulate a partner’s genitals. Oral sex, or using one’s mouth on a partner’s genitalia, is another form of clitoral sex play. During oral sex the tongue, teeth, and lips can all be used to nibble, bite, lick, or manipulate and to explore the clitoris, labia, and vagina. Partners may choose to engage in simultaneous oral sex by aligning themselves face-to-genitals. This is usually accomplished by lying side-by-side or with one woman on top and the other on the bottom. Many women find simultaneous oral sex too distracting and choose, instead, to take turns stimulating each other.
Many lesbians enjoy vaginal penetration by a partner’s fingers or tongue. The insertion of foreign objects is also commonplace, but in the case of dildos this can be controversial, especially if the dildo is shaped like a penis. Some lesbians do use dildos, but others are uncomfortable with what they regard as intercourse with a substitute male organ. The lesbian community takes pride in the fact that lesbian sex is not conventional sex, and that lesbian women are not bound or limited by traditional understandings of sexual roles or rules. This is why some lesbians reject the very idea of sex with dildos, which they feel is male-defined. It also explains why many lesbians refuse to judge any form of lesbian sex, choosing instead to celebrate a woman’s right to define and determine her unique sexual self, whatever habits, fantasies, or practices that involves.
Just as heterosexual culture has tended to define sex as intercourse, lesbians may fall into the trap of defining sex as finger-vagina or tongue-clitoris interaction—with orgasm as an end goal. The lesbian community at large, however, believes that all sex play is valid. The end goal of sex should be pleasure, whether it leads to orgasm or not. Nevertheless, some studies made in the 1980s have found that the reported frequency of orgasm for lesbian partners is higher than that for heterosexual women. Researchers speculate the reason may be that lesbian couples tend to arouse one another more slowly and deliberately and to talk more during sex, often communicating quite explicitly about what is sexually pleasing. What, specifically, is sexually pleasing is as varied as the lesbian community itself.
At times lesbians may stimulate the anus for sexual pleasure. The anus can be rimmed (the tongue moved around its edge), stroked with the fingers, or penetrated with the fingers or a dildo. Some lesbians enjoy bondage games or incorporate sadomasochistic fantasies (see sadism/ masochism) into their sex-play. Others find the possibility of “getting caught” very arousing. It can be very exciting to be doing something that others would find scandalous if they recognized it. Often lesbians touch each other surreptitiously under lap blankets in public places or have sex in the woods or in public bathrooms.
Lesbians may even have sex with a man, although this is controversial within the lesbian community. Some have sex with men occasionally or anonymously for variety. Others have fairly regular sexual encounters with a particular man. For some lesbians, sex with men is a wonderful adjunct to their on-going sexual relating to women, and does not alter their self-identification as lesbians. Lesbianism, for them, is a sexual state of mind. It is an identity that goes much deeper than individual sex acts.
The spectrum of lesbian sexual activity is wide, and depends on the tastes of the individuals involved. Some may assume specific gender roles—dressing “butch” or “femme.” So called “lipstick lesbians” are conventionally attractive but many others run away from such traditional models, taking pleasure and pride in what they describe as a full exploration of their sexuality.