How Sex Is Different For Straight & Queer Women is the first episode in a series called Queer People Talk To Straight People. In these videos, sex researcher/educator Eva Bloom and sex writer Gabrielle Alexa Noel bring people of different sexual experiences together to discuss sex education and break down taboos.
This is a transcription from that first episode, lightly edited for clarity, featuring guests:
- Luna Matatas, sex and pleasure educator, queer.
- Rukiat, award-winning sex educator, heterosexual.
- Gretchen Wylder, creator of the award-winning web series These Thems, queer femme.
- Ashley Giov, dating and lifestyle writer, heterosexual.
- Amanda, LGBTQ+ sex blogger, lesbian.
- Samantha, heterosexual.
- Lia, heterosexual.
I'm 27 years old and I still have female friends that don't masturbate or don't admit to masturbating." –– Ashley
There are two different groups on this call –– straight women and not straight women. What is something the other group has to learn from your group?
Rukiat: Queer women could learn that straight women are having a hard time.
Gretchen: Maybe straight women could learn that queer women have a really hard time too. Like, straight women deal with toxic masculinity –– that's very rampant, still, in the queer community across genders.
Luna: I think that queer women can teach straight women that sex doesn't end when the penis ends. I feel like this has been a lie that we have all been sold and it's totally governed by toxic masculinity and patriarchy. Queerness has kind of opened up this opportunity for me to really challenge that as the norm.
Samantha: I was taught that sex not only ends with the penis but it also begins with the penis. And that everything is about penis-vagina penetration, end of story.
Rukiat: That's why there's such a huge orgasm gap!
Lia: Being straight, as someone who isn't told I need to break out of the box, I'm still stuck there. The doors that I need to break through aren't as apparent because I haven't been forced to look for them.
Ashley: I feel like for a lot of women, their sexual pleasure is almost derived from the pleasure of a man so they don't really take the time to figure out what they're interested in, or what turns them on, beyond what their partner is interested in.
I mean, I'm 27 years old and I still have female friends that don't masturbate or don't admit to masturbating. So it's like, if you're not doing that, I can imagine you also aren't really exploring other things besides penetrative sex that might get you off.
Rukiat: I was even watching one lady from Love Island, her name is Yewande. And she said that she's never ever experienced an orgasm. She's a straight woman. And I was just like, oh my god! But that is the experience of so many straight women.
Gretchen: When I hear that, I wonder, if she had more information or knowledge about asexuality, if that would be a possibility. Especially if she's someone who doesn't really feel the need to masturbate, she may be part of the LGBTQIA –– which stands for asexual –– community.
How do you define foreplay?
Rukiat: In straight situations, I just think foreplay needs to be thrown in the bin. Because foreplay is usually designated to the woman's orgasm. And it's not necessarily that we're just warming each other up, it's foreplay where this is the girl's moment and now we head into the main course, which is centered around the guy and his penis and his orgasm. I just feel like foreplay is shrouded in a lot of neglect of women's pleasure.
Ashley: For me, foreplay has nothing to do with sex. And that includes oral sex, which is sex to me. Foreplay is the kissing, the dirty talk, the teasing. If you go down there and you're like, "oh, it's foreplay, I'm gonna eat you out," I'm like, I should already be aroused!
Amanda: Foreplay can be whatever you want it to be and that's kind of the beauty of it. What's foreplay to me is not necessarily going to be foreplay to my partner and it's not necessarily going to be foreplay to another relationship.
Luna: I think foreplay is sex and it's the type of sex that you enjoy, that's seductive, that's arousing. And I want that all throughout the whole thing. This idea of like, having a menu –– of an appetizer, and then there's the main meal, and then everyone fails asleep –– it doesn't work for everyone, and it doesn't necessarily maximize all of the pleasure opportunities.
And I think a lot of times, what people talk about as foreplay, tends to be the things that are sensual and affectionate and slower. I think all of our sex can benefit from more doses of what we're calling foreplay but throughout the experience.
What does good sex mean to you? When you're having good sex, what are the features about it that make it good?
Rukiat: Great communication. He eats p*ssy –– that's non-negotiable for me. Before, I used to hate the idea of talking about the sex beforehand because I felt like it's meant to be a surprise or it just ruins the actual meet-up. But now I realize, no, actually it's good to talk about it beforehand and good to talk about what you're willing to do, what you're not willing to do, and also to tell them what you like.
Even sexting, as well, is a great pre-warm-up to actually meeting up with someone. If we've done all of that and then we get to the sex and the person is just being attentive and they care about my pleasure and it's not just about orgasms and we're exploring with each other and experimenting. That, for me, is great sex.
Ashley: I agree with all of that and I relate to it. I've definitely been with men who you can tell they're kind of just going through the motions. They're like, oh, I have to eat her out, otherwise she's going to give me shit. But they don't really enjoy it. And then it's not enjoyable for me because, first off, they're bad at it. And second off, you don't want to feel like you're a job to anybody.
Good sex is definitely feeling like somebody is enjoying themselves and that they care about if you're enjoying yourself.
Gretchen: Yeah, I feel like the best sex, it's always both people –– or however many people –– being very in the moment and very present. I feel really blessed because I'm multi-orgasmic and so for me, it is about the orgasms. Not necessarily about keeping a tally, but if I'm really in it, they should just keep going.
Also, aftercare for me is a big thing too. After the sexy time, just being able to cuddle if you're a cuddler or making your partner tea or something really caring is always, for me, a must.
Gabrielle: I remember having a full breakdown and explaining to my friend, "oh my god, I just felt so bad in the sex I just had!" And she was like, "well, did you guys have aftercare?" And I remember feeling like, what the f*ck is aftercare? That is so important and not something that was ever taught to me until I met people who were either non-monogamous or in the kinky community.
Gretchen: Yup! That's where I learned it too: the kink community. To me it's like, communication at the top, and throughout, aftercare at the end. It's like a little sandwich.
Rukiat: I'm so glad that aftercare is being spoken about outside of those two communities because it's something that I feel like is so important as well. Even if you're in a casual situation, where there's no strings attached, you don't have to be a dick at the end of it. It's okay to be nice without it having to go anywhere. Even if we're not working towards a relationship, we're literally here for the sex and for a good time. There's nothing wrong in treating the person well afterwards.
Samantha: I've actually never heard the term aftercare and I'm loving it right now. I love this idea! Thank you for bringing it up.
Gretchen brought up orgasms. Do you wanna talk a little bit about our expectations around orgasms for partnered sex vs. solo sex? Have we had a journey in terms of our relationship to orgasms?
Amanda: For me, solo orgasm happens more in my head whereas partnered orgasm happens more everywhere else. I definitely feel different in different orgasms.
Ashley: I feel like a lot of my straight female friends orgasm very well by themselves and with sex, they're kinda like meh. But for me, it's kind of the opposite, my best orgasms are during sex. When I'm alone, it's more controlled.
Gretchen: Orgasms are so different across the board. Especially during COVID, when I'm by myself, it's very much stress relief as opposed to being physically turned on. Because I have my vibrator and I'm like okay, let's get this done. Whereas, when I'm with a partner, it's much more intense. Everyone's different. I'm able to have many orgasms clitorally but I haven't ever had a G-spot orgasm.
How often do you use toys during partnered sex?
Rukiat: I'm gonna be real here, I only got my first toy this year. Prior to this year, I've just been so afraid I might start relying on toys. And of affecting sensitivity as well, all this nonsense. So I always was just like, nah, I can do without. But this was the year that I just thought lemme indulge in some toys. I have yet to bring a toy in with another partner.
Ashley: I feel like when I was younger, I actually used way more toys during partnered sex and I think it's because we'd just started having sex. I wanted to try a zillion different things. And I was in long-term relationships so like, we wanted to spice things up a little more.
Whereas now, I definitely use toys in sex sometimes, especially if it's with anal play or anything where you need a little help. But now that I'm more tuned into myself and my own wants and needs and my partners, I want it to be a very raw, animalistic experience. So even though I have a ton of toys, I don't really use them with partners very often anymore.
Luna: I love using toys during sex with other people because, of course, I like strapping it on, I like pegging, I love putting things in people's butts. I don't tend to masturbate with penetration and so it's an opportunity to have someone else use them on me. I find that it gives that multiple sensation experience that can help me have different types of orgasms and come from different places. And so, butt stimulation on my own maybe doesn't make me orgasm, it'll be on the way to something else, but with someone else it can really put me over the top.
Rukiat: That's one thing that I really, really wanna do. I'm so desperate to peg a guy. But straight guys out here are just so scared. And the one person I met who was willing to give it a go has ghosted me so I don't know when's the next time I'll ever have the opportunity.
Gabrielle: My ex boyfriend was like, if you take me back, I'll let you peg me. I was like, I don't wanna do it like that, bro.
Samantha: I think I've always had this belief that sex has to be very physical and intimate between two bodies. And it wasn't until my current partner –– who is like, no, sex toys can be really sexy –– that I started kind of exploring it and seeing that they can maintain that intimacy. It's something that I never really considered before because it wasn't part of my sexual education.
Lia: I haven't actually had any experience using toys with partnered sex but with masturbation, they're a helpful thing that makes that journey into partnered sex less intimidating. I can bring these things in that I'm comfortable with that I know can give me the pleasure I need.
Specifically with straight sex, there's the overarching belief in society that penetration is this ideal. Whereas when I masturbate on my own, penetration isn't really interesting to me.
Samantha: I know when I masturbate, penetrative sex is not of any interest to me. And I always thought that was something weird and I just don't talk about it. This convo is reassuring! I'm like, okay, this is a thing that other people are also thinking and experiencing.
It's one of the reasons I'm excited to try out sex toys. I'm like, I know penetrative sex has never been much to me for masturbation so I want to try [non-penetrative] sex toys.
Gretchen: I'm currently dating someone who is very masculine-presenting and trans-identified. So I kind of assumed, as we were entering into a sexual relationship, that we would be utilizing more toys –– like a harness and dildo. And we really don't! It's like, our bodies actually fit together really well, neither of us feel like anything is lacking. So like, maybe if we feel the need down the line, we'll introduce toys some here and there. But it is interesting. It's like, everyone's sexuality is so unique to them and it's important not to ever make assumptions.
And here's another episode in the series: