I recently identified my top party foul, and it’s a doozy: While chatting with an acquaintance at a social event, he began flailing his hands and jamming his fingers like two scissors trying to slice each other down the middle. As he performed this epically violent charade, he turned to me and the woman next to me with an asymmetrical haircut who he assumed to be my partner and asked, “So do you two, like, scissor?” Yikes.
As a queer woman—especially as a queer woman who is vocal on the internet about both sex and being queer—I get this question relatively often, but not every day. (Still, it certainly happens more than it should, which is never.) Generally speaking, while most folks seem to know it’s a no-go in the ask department, my experience tells me that if you give a nice-seeming guy named Chad a few beers, all of a sudden, he can’t help himself. Or, if you have any one-on-one time with a straight friend who’s so vocal about being seriously so cool (!!!!) with you being gay, she suddenly feels compelled to ask (always in a whisper) whether you and your partner make love like scissors.
There’s a misguided sense of entitlement to a queer person’s sex life from people who have a different experience.
Usually I’ll dismiss the invasive Qs and gesticulations with a sweet-as-sugar response: “Honey, you’ve been watching too much Pornhub.” But sometimes, I’ll go with the overly detailed: “You know what they say? You haven’t really lived until you get a charley horse from being vulva-to-vulva with the hot queer you met at Stonewall.” And sometimes, I err on the side of sarcastic faux-citement with: “YES, and O-M-G you HAVE to try it.”
No matter which route of response I take, the interrogator usually catches my unenthused drift and follows up by stumbling to inarticulately string together enough words to form an apology, promising that they didn’t mean to be rude. “Sorry! Sorry! I was just curious!” Well, fine—I don’t think you’re an ill-intentioned person, but it’s still none of your beeswax.
The problem at play here isn’t necessarily nefarious in nature, but rather a misguided sense of entitlement to the ins and outs of a queer person’s sex life from people who have a different experience. “People feel like they have a right to ask about what they consider ‘different’ or ‘alternative’ sexualities…as if that’s not rude or intrusive,” says Andrea Barrica, founder and CEO of sex positive education platform O.school.
But, within this problem of respecting boundaries and is a much more systemic issue that many believe there is sex, which is reserved for straight folks, and then there’s whatever those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum do—as if those actions are distinct from or different than sex. Barrica suggests that all the subcategorizations on porn sites play a hand in perpetuating this misconception. “Videos are categorized as ‘lesbian sex’ or ‘gay sex’ when ‘sex’ would suffice,” she says.
Experts suspect that porn is also the reason scissoring is regarded as the pinnacle lesbian (and queer) sex act, which really isn’t the case. “It’s hard to pinpoint the exact origin, but lesbian porn is the most popular category on Pornhub, and it’s filled with videos of scissoring.” says Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower, an online sexual-wellness store.
“Queer sex can be as vast as the identities within the queer spectrum. There are a multitude of ways for two people with vulvas to have sex.” —Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of sexual-wellness store Wild Flower
Alas, while porn may have tricked many into thinking scissoring is the only sex act in which two card-carrying vagina owners can engage together, it’s not. “Queer sex can be as vast as the identities within the queer spectrum. There are a multitude of ways for two people with vulvas to have sex,” says Boyajian. And when you add toys like vibrators and dildos into the mix, those ways multiply exponentially, they say.
All that aside: It is never appropriate to ask someone how they have sex with their partner, no matter how they identify. (Unless you’re a sex therapist in a session with someone who has sought your expertise. Or you’re meeting with a duo who has agreed to have a threesome with you.) “Your curiosity or fascination doesn’t need to be fulfilled by anyone,” says Boyajian.
So, one more time, in case I haven’t been totally clear: Please, for the love of sex, stop asking me how I get it on with my partner.
If you and your partner do want to scissor, try these stretches (trust me—it’s a very active position). And if you’re an ally, here’s why you should consider adding your pronouns to your email signature.
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