Only 2% of women are exclusively gay (half as common as male homosexuality). The average age to come out is 17 years old for gay men but 40 years old for lesbians. Women may be able to deduce their orientation from their sexual fantasies. Our responsiveness is related to our sex and has nothing to do with orientation. Lesbians benefit from having similar levels of responsiveness as their lovers. Also being women, they are not so intent on genital stimulation, penetration and achieving orgasm.
The clitoris has never been associated with heterosexuality because of women’s lack of arousal with a lover. Lesbians may focus explicitly on the clitoris but this does not mean that they are more successful with orgasm. Gays naturally focus on explicit genital stimulation because vaginal intercourse is not an option between two people of the same sex. Lesbians do not talk of turn-ons or sexual pleasure any more than any other women.
Lesbians may enjoy undressing for a lover or removing a lover’s clothing. They may caress a partner’s erogenous zones with hands or tongue. Women like to engage in displays of affection, such as prolonged kissing, hugging or other forms of touching. Women’s breasts are clearly related to reproductive function. But because of male interest, breasts are often considered to be sexual even by women themselves. Besides creating maternal feelings, breast and nipple stimulation may also decrease a woman’s anxiety and assist with emotional bonding (trust between lovers).
Women engage in sociable intimate activity primarily as a bonding mechanism and to demonstrate affection. We may call these sexual in the sense that the emotions cause women to offer physical intimacy to a partner for whom they feel an emotional attachment. But with a lover there is the opportunity to explore their body and to allow them to explore our body. The sensations of being touched by another person are different to when we touch ourselves. There is also the psychological thrill of knowing that a lover wants to touch us and wondering what they will to do next.
Tribadism is a common non-penetrative sexual act between women. It is also referred to as frottage or in popular slang as dry humping. It involves a woman rubbing her vulva against her lover’s vulva, thighs, stomach or other body part. This may be achieved in a number of positions, including missionary, woman on top or doggy style. It may be accompanied by fingering or penetration with a dildo.
Lesbians have the advantage of being women themselves who are attracted to women. They may have an above average knowledge of female sexual anatomy. With no penis requiring urgent attention, gay women can focus on sensual pleasuring rather than genital stimulation. Lesbians can be more relaxed about exploring pleasuring without the pressure to achieve orgasm. Lesbians use fingering (manual stimulation) to massage the genitalia. A woman may finger herself (clitoral glans, the labia and the outer portion (the entrance) of the vagina) or fingering may be mutual.
Lesbians may assume (as others do) that women respond to intercourse because they are aroused by male genitals and vaginal penetration. But a woman’s genitals and her ability to respond to stimulation are identical regardless of her orientation. No woman has a drive to be impregnated. An emotional attachment to a man (and a desire for family) may cause a heterosexual woman to be amenable to intercourse. But no one can orgasm within time limits set by another person’s responsiveness.
Lesbian sexual activity is dictated by the motivation of the two partners involved who may (quite naturally) not be especially proactive. A woman may provide fingering from behind, massaging of erogenous zones as well as introducing a dildo or vibrator into the vagina or anus. A partner may also use bondage or other BDSM activities. Cunnilingus is a common practice among those lesbians who engage in sexual activity. Oral stimulation of the anus is less often practiced. For deeper vaginal, anal or oral penetration, a strap-on dildo or other sex toys may be used.
Most people define sex as intercourse because of men’s sex drive. Lesbians may mimic vaginal intercourse because they think they should. Women do not have the same natural sex drive to penetrate a lover that men have. Female masturbation involves an instinctive urge to thrust to orgasm similar to the male role in intercourse. A responsive woman achieves orgasm alone by using fantasies and by stimulating the internal clitoral organ. But both the fantasies a woman uses for mental arousal and the position she assumes for thrusting are incompatible with sociable activity.
Given most women are unresponsive, we can define a heterosexual woman by her desire to attract male sexual attention. Lesbianism may simply indicate a preference for female companionship. A woman’s orientation is determined by the sex of the people she is emotionally attached to. Lesbians may live together without having sexual relations. Lesbians are often intent on gaining political and social acceptance of their sexuality.
It should be emphasized, however, that a high proportion of the unmarried females who live together never have contacts which are in any sense sexual. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)