The concept of “real sex” has been widely defined over the short course of American history. Of course, only recently has it become socially acceptable to even talk about sex in the public spectrum. Even when kept silent, though, Americans had their own differing definitions of sex and its implications. When Alfred Kinsey conducted his groundbreaking sexual census, surveying the bedroom practices and preferences of everyday folk to form a comprehensive collection of data, the public was shocked at the sheer audacity of his scientific inquest. The mere idea that sex could be enjoyed and explored beyond the specific purpose of procreation was much more than many could handle.
Since the Puritans first settled in New England, having fled religious persecution to establish their own regime of legalism in the New World, Americans have been entrenched in a way of thinking that restricts sexual boundaries and arbitrarily demands that sex and procreation be strictly synonymous. The legacy has continued for more than 300 years, with modern Americans enacting the Puritan principles through legislation and practical discrimination against those whose sex lives do not revolve around making babies and perpetuating the nuclear family. This mindset about sexuality is ultimately harmful to society, restricting Americans’ ability to understand each other as well as their own individual sexual desires and inhibitions.
Cultural variations have a lot to do with currents of understanding about American sexuality. Religious circles obviously have more inhibited ideas about sexuality, whether or not their individual practices adhere to mandated means of behavior. Hip-hop culture, more prominent in urban areas among younger black Americans, similarly outlines sexuality based on larger group influences. Teenagers, especially with modern technological implements like texting and social networking sites online, have increasing access to each other with severely lowered inhibitions and a sex education system that’s struggling to catch up with the times.
To that end, the consideration of vaginal intercourse as the only kind of “real sex” because of its obvious procreative implications is definitively counterintuitive, especially when part of sex ed standards in public schools. While certainly the most common kind of sex, traditional coitus does not preclude other types of sexual activity from happening, nor does it allow for discussion about the dangerous consequences of “non-sex.” To define vaginal intercourse as the only acceptable form of “real sex” is to run the serious risk of alienating large sections of the population for whom “real sex” has nothing to do with a vagina or procreation at all.
For couples in which one or both partners are sterile, the quality of sexual relationship is likely to be significantly diminished by misidentifying the nature of non-procreative sex as running counter to reality. Homosexuality is given no place in this mindset, therefore rendering the quality of homosexual relationships null and void, and giving gay and lesbian Americans unnecessary and harmful individual complexes about their own natural tendencies.
Considering oral sex “real sex” would be beneficial in this regard, but also in the realm of sex education. High schools whose curriculum neglects to mention oral sex as “real” are much more likely to have students figuring its reality out for themselves once the sex-ed class bell has rung.
Crooks, Robert L., & Baur, Karla. (2008) Our Sexuality.
Wadsworth Cengage Learning