There's no one way to enjoy sexual pleasure.

Sara Youngblood Gregory
Apr 26, 2021 @ 1:29 pm
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lesbian sex myths
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April 26th is Lesbian Visibility Day.

When I was 17-years-old and barely out of the closet, I was sitting on the floor of my college dorm room, where my roommate and I were talking—or dissecting—about a date I had just come back from. "So did you have sex?" she asked me. Suddenly, the warm, excited feeling I had melted away and was replaced by doubt, making me panic. How do I know if we had sex? How could I not know what lesbian sex is? I thought to myself.

Confusion around lesbian sex is extremely common, especially if you're new to the LGBTQIA+ community. When you combine toxic, abstinence-only sex ed in schools; lesbian porn made for and by cis men; and the invisibility of lesbian love, sexuality, and relationships in media and the wider culture; there is bound to be a lot of misinformation spread or not addressed.

As a lesbian sex writer with a degree in gender and sexuality, I'm tackling the top five myths around lesbian sex and breaking them down one by one (so you don't have to).

Myths about lesbian sex:

Myth #1: Lesbians follow gendered sex roles.

Asking who is the "man" in a lesbian relationship is uncalled for and invasive. There is, of course, no man in a lesbian relationship. But what this question truly betrays is a deep-seated panic over power, who gets it, and how it plays out during lesbian sex.

Prescriptive, heteronormative sexual scripts usually center around a man's pleasure, body, and therefore, his "power." In American culture, sex begins with the man's arousal and ends with his orgasm. And the man is usually positioned on top—literally.

Lesbian sex upsets this script. If there's no man, who initiates sex? If they're both women, who submits? However, the question isn't "Who's on top or submits?" but rather, "What do women do with the power they have?"

Lesbian sex requires the active negotiation and debate of sex roles. Power comes from doing what we want, not from being on top, or what's expected of us. Butches like to be bottoms, femmes like to switch positions, and androgynous people can like being on top. We do whatever we want, whether men like it or not. 

Myth #2: Lesbians prefer "gold star" lovers.

A "gold star" is a term used to describe lesbians who have never slept with a man. I've spent my fair share of time on Tinder, and I have witnessed people adding "gold star" to their bio in the hopes of gaining attention or validation from potential lovers.

In reality, being or dating a "gold star" lover isn't something that matters to most lesbians. In fact, most lesbians I know will run the other way if a "gold star" shares their status proudly because it denotes a kind of hierarchy of sexual value that most lesbians don't agree with.

For many people, coming out and into their own as a queer person—or whatever they identity as—can be difficult. It takes time, experimentation, trial, and error to grow into and get comfortable with queerness. Sexual history does not define or legitimize someone's lesbianism or queerness (but acting like it does can certainly be a red flag). Emphasizing "gold star" lesbians as better or more desirable can deny the reality of many survivors of sexual assault or abuse—which isn't fair for others to judge. 

Myth #3: Lesbians need toys/dildos to have real sex.

The fixation on lesbians needing toys for "real" sex stems from America's societial obsession over the use of phallic objects and having penatrative sex. This is boring and completely untrue. There are a million ways to have sex, and not one act—aka penatrative sex—defines what counts as "real" sex.

For some people, yes, penetration and toys are important parts of sex. For others, however, they're not useful, as giving and receiving oral, fingering and humping are other great alternatives to have sexual pleasure. 

lesbian sex myths
Credit: Getty Images

But what's more important is the way we view and talk about sex toys. Sex toys are tools for pleasure and connection to our bodies, no matter your sexual preference. They are fun, versatile, and make sex accessible for many people with disabilities, too. Even your hands and mouths can be considered sex toys. They are reminders that desire and pleasure are worth having. They are just not considered a "need" for lesbian sex. 

Myth #4: Lesbians don't have sex with penises.

Yes, we do. Lesbians sex and existence is not defined by the presence or absence of any genitalia, but rather by desire. Trans lesbians exist. Non-binary lesbians exist. Enough said.

Myth #5: Lesbian bed death is real.

Lesbian bed death is the idea that lesbians in committed, long-term relationships either don't have sex, or have significantly less sex than their heterosexual counterparts. The myth stems from the idea that sex loses its excitment and value over time because a man is not involved.

The implication of this myth is that, in American society, frequency of sex is an indication of relationship health and value. It's not shocking that lesbian relationships are therefore rumored to "lack" the essential ingredient—consistent, hetero sex—to successful, long-term partnerships.

Sex doesn't need to be an indicator of relationship health—or, at least, not the most important, or only tool to measure it by. Like any other relationship, communication, security, quality time, and laughter are critical—and in many cases, more important—to the health of a romantic relationship.

While there are many myths about lesbian sex, the best thing to you can do to demystify pleasure is to talk about pleasure! The more you practice communicating with yourself and partners about your body and your desires, the easier and more intuitive sex becomes. The only person who can define what good, pleasurable sex looks like is you and you alone.