How do we define "sex"?

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added October 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Sex has to be the most complicated word in the English language. It probably has about 6.4 billion definitions, which is roughly equal to the amount of people angered by the ending of every M. Night Shyamalan film.

All those definitions and smart money would still wager none of those comes close to really answering the question of “what is sex?”

I will concede asking a lofty question such as this is more than a bit pretentious. To be honest, it is a bit more philosophical than I would have ever expected to get. But it’s a good question to ask.

It took me many hours of deep, introspective thought, insightful conversations with friends, a few shots of tequila, a hooker, priest, fry cook and cabbie to come up with the following definition:

Sex is an act between one or more persons with several purposes, of which include reproduction and stress relief. It can be practiced in numerous and ever-expanding ways.

Yes, it is true that this definition works. But there is something about it I do not like. This definition is sterile, clinical and, more importantly, boring.

Sex might be many things but it is not boring. This definition might be fine for Merriam-Webster, but its critical fault is it fails to address the personal expression and intimacy the act encompasses.

So then what defines sex — the kind people actually have? The sex all those romance writers glorify and teenagers would gladly give their leg to experience. Better yet, to whom does the gauntlet fall? Whom do we charge with such a grandiose task as to defining this, our most primal yet least understood of behaviors? Who can define that sex?

To that end, we find an answer that highlights one of the greatest things about sex, an undeniable truth.
We define SEX. (What a twist!)

Everyone has the right to decide what sex means. Your definition could cycle every 13 minutes like clockwork and you can never be wrong. Your sex can range from everyone’s first sexual activity, masturbation, to an orgy or simply watching your naked neighbor do a crossword puzzle through his suspiciously askew blinds.

Every way you define sex for yourself is the correct definition. Believing this to be true, we are left with a new query: How do you define your sex?

For me sex is…complicated. It’s an intimate and awesome amalgamation of emotions, bodily fluids, ideas, heat, thrusts, throbs, heartbeats, grunts, caresses, awkward moments, butterflies, spanks, questions, lusts, loves, gazes, mistakes and shakes.

Sex is a messy, sloppy, embarrassing, ridiculous, scary and exciting journey everyone should experience by themselves, with one other person, twelve other people, a little person, an amputee, a cabbie, a hooker and a priest.

Sex is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off, but it’s better if you do. Sex is fun. Sex is a verb and adjective smorgasbord.

Most of all, if you respect it and have no fear, sex can be something that will take you to places you never thought possible.

If you have read this far, I am going to assume you have an opinion on what sex is to you. Some other people
did as well; here are a few selections:

“I’d like to say that I know what sex means to me, other than satisfaction of a primal urge, but I can’t say that at all,” Kevin Knowles said. “But then again I could. It just depends on my mood… All I can truly tell you about sex is that I’d like to have some.”

Kira Chappelle said, “Sex is a stress-relieving sport that I’m addicted to and, I need to have in order to have a fully functional life. Sex with the right person could be moments of your life that you will remember for an eternity… I believe it takes 60 percent physical and 40 percent mental in order to reach a certain
climax, but those numbers could change depending on attraction.”

“Sex is much more than sexual intercourse,” Paige Diamond said. “It is in fact any activity done that stimulates arousal and pleasure. We have put this box around what sex is, which has caused a lot of misconceptions, myths and stereotypes, leading to a lot of the negative realities that can come from sex.
“When we get to the bottom line of what the essence of sex is, it is purely an exchange of energy.”

This is a subject on which we can all agree to agree. We should also agree the idea of someone else defining our sex for us is a ridiculous notion. However, this fact does not stop other people from constantly trying.

The fight to maintain your sexual identity will always be hard fought even when you’re unaware you’re fighting. We look to the people around us, the talking heads on TV, the soulless ink on page and the pretty people on the silver screen to emulate their expression of normalcy. This cannot be.

All media outlets, including this one, are pushing their idea of what they believe sex to be. On behalf of all of media let me say looking to us might be comforting and informative, but what you will do with your body is your decision. The very best we can do is share the cliff notes of our accumulated wisdom.

Anyone who tells you they have the answer for you is surely a charlatan.

That being said, I hope you can find myself or someone else you can look to for the guidance. I am not so vain as to assume my way is the only way — or even the right way — for you. But it is my sincere hope I can help you find some way to make your sex your own.

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