What is Sex?

What is Sex?

The other day I was interviewed for an article in NYMetro about the recently released film, What’s Your Number. The question this title refers to is the number of sexual partners you have had. This query is not as easy to answer as it may first seem.

One thing that makes it difficult to number how many people you’ve done it with is answering the question, “what is sex?” Again, this is a question that may not be as simple as it looks.

The ancient Greek philosophers, who had nothing better to do, sat around and contemplated the big questions like: “what is truth?” “what is the good?”  and “what is love?” Personally, I haven’t come across the tome where the question has been asked, “what is sex?” but I’m sure if you look hard enough you will find it. If not, it’s about time this subject was discussed.

Unfortunately, this question entered public consciousness with our former president Bill Clinton’s affair with the intern Monica Lewinsky. In that famous example, he said that he had not had sex with “that woman.” His defense in making such a claim was that he had not had sexual intercourse with her.

With all due respect to the nature of his office, I beg to disagree with President Clinton. He most certainly did have sex with that woman. Here’s why this is important.

Many of us still hold onto an antiquated idea and definition of sex that lessens the amount of pleasure, fun, and spectacular orgasms that we have. The oudated idea that many people still believe is that sex goes like this: first you have “foreplay,” and then you have “sex.”

Foreplay, in this definition, includes kissing, touching, genital touching, licking, oral sex, and things like that. Sex, by these lights, is genital penetration, or intercourse, and nothing more. This is not only a narrow and limited view of sex, but a less fun one.

Can an idea ruin sex? You bet and here’s one reason why:  most women orgasm from oral sex rather than intercourse. The guys who believe that they’re done going down on a woman once you stick it in, are leaving a high percentage of women pretty frustrated at the end of the, um, day.

If sex is just a man placing his penis inside the vagina of a woman, then there is no such thing as homosexual sex, which should make all homophobes feel better. But unfortunately for those who might wish otherwise, some gay people would say that they are having quite enjoyable sex. This is another reason that this old, rigid, definition has got to go.

The truth is, sex is more fun when you eliminate these meaningless distinctions. Men can last longer if they put it inside for awhile, then perform cunnilingus, then get a hand job, and then have some more coitus. The more movement, positions, variety of techniques, the more interesting the experience, the longer you can go, and the greater heat you can build up. As any great film director will tell you, the more of a charge you build, the more explosive the climax. Women like that.

Men, and women, need to learn what gives their partner maximum pleasure. Orgasms come in multiple flavors, and one had through intercourse may not be the best way at all.

If you are a sex philosopher, you start to realize that once you ‘penetrate’ the matter, it gets harder and harder (harder!) to define. For example, is kissing sex? And let’s give a shout out to anal intercourse. Where does that fit on the chart? What about combinations? (Manual genital contact and intercourse, per se.)

So what is sex? Sex should be fun. It’s the only pure pleasure that’s free in this world. The best definition is the one that helps makes sex as pleasurable as possible.

Maybe to find this definition, we need to ask another question: is sex just about the body? Sure, you want to have your techniques down, and have maximum variety. But I would say what really makes sex great is when you can do it with complete passionate abandon.

It is when you freely put your whole self into sex, not just a body part, but your heart, mind, and body,  that makes it really, really, good. That’s not only a definition of sex. Maybe it’s also a definition of love.

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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