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. Responsive women may be able to deduce their orientation from their erotic fantasies. Our responsiveness is related to our sex and has nothing to do with our 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 any need for orgasm.
Women engage in intimate physical activity with a lover primarily as a bonding mechanism and to demonstrate affection. We may call these sexual in the sense that the emotions cause women to offer sexual activity to a partner for whom they feel an emotional attachment. 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 the trust involved in wondering what they will do next.
Lesbians may enjoy undressing for a lover or removing a lover’s clothing. They may caress a partner’s erogenous zones with their 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).
Lesbians have the advantage of being women themselves who are attracted to other 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 their own 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). Genital fingering may be mutual.
We tend to equate sex to intercourse because of men’s sex drive. Women do not have the same biological drive to penetrate a lover that men have. Female masturbation involves an instinctive thrusting action similar to the male role in intercourse. A responsive woman achieves orgasm alone by using fantasies and by stimulating the internal clitoral organ. But these masturbation techniques are incompatible with sociable activity. Lesbians may play act intercourse because they have the impression that this is what sex is about. But there is no sexual arousal and certainly no orgasm involved.
Non-penetrative sexual acts between women are called tribadism. They are also referred to as frottage or dry humping. This may be achieved in a number of positions, including missionary, woman on top or doggy style. It involves a woman rubbing her vulva against her lover’s vulva, thighs, stomach or other body part. Such general stimulation does not cause orgasm. It may be accompanied by fingering of the clitoral glans or penetration with a dildo.
Lesbians may assume (as others do) that heterosexual 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 orientation. No woman has a drive to be impregnated. What is bewildering for everyone is that a tiny minority of politically motivated individuals use their views to intimidate the majority. But millions of other more rational people who may disagree, say nothing.
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. Lesbians can also make use of 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 practised. For deeper vaginal or anal penetration, a strap-on dildo or other sex toys are used by the more sexually adventurous.
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 feels emotionally attached to. Lesbians can live together without having sexual relations. Lesbians are often intent on gaining political and social acceptance of their sexuality. Lesbians do not talk of turn-ons or sexual pleasuring any more than any other women.
The lack of orgasm women experience (that no one likes to admit to) is often attributed to incompetent male lovers. Yet some (more imaginative) men are much more motivated to explore a lover’s body and discover how it might respond to stimulation than any woman ever is. It is suggested that men do not know what anatomy to stimulate. This is hardly men’s fault since the problem could be easily solved if women told men what to stimulate. It is also asserted that lesbians have more orgasms than heterosexual women. But explicit explanations for how lesbian women achieve arousal (as a response to erotic turn-ons) and any reconciliation of lesbian lovemaking techniques with the kind of stimulation that might cause orgasm are noticeably lacking.
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)