Toronto
3 min

What goes on between women

An awkward conversation with mom

A while back I somehow managed to scrape my right hand against a brick wall. The skin on my fingers scabbed over and there were scratches on my hand. On my dutiful once-every-few-months visit to my parents’ home in Niagara Falls my eagle-eyed mother noticed and asked, “What happened? How did your hand get scratched? Is it from making love to a woman?”

My parents and I don’t generally have conversations about sex, we don’t go anywhere near the subject. We didn’t before I came out and we certainly haven’t since. In fact I turn into a whiny eight-year-old around my parents whenever the subject of my love life is even mentioned. So of course my response was “Mommm! I just scraped my hand against a wall, can we not talk about it pleeease?!” Clearly I handled it well.

I don’t think I’m alone in that reaction. Yes, I am comfortable with my sexuality and logically I know my parents have quite a healthy love life since they have six children. Yet I am still incapable of having a mature, grown-up discussion with my parents about sex.

But my mother asked that silly question because she genuinely wanted to know. She’s really curious as to how two women can actually be together without a man. Everybody is curious.

Apparently there aren’t enough porn DVDs of femme-on-femme action out there to satisfy curiosity. People are still fascinated. This includes not just stereotypical straight guys but straight women and gay men too.

A friend of mine who is dating a trans guy recently told me how a school friend of hers, a flamboyant man, asked her, “How do you and your boyfriend have sex? Do you use a strap-on? Or do you go down on each other like regular lesbians?”

What’s interesting about this is he’s assuming since her boyfriend isn’t biologically male that they must have sex like lesbians, and lesbians just perform oral on each other and that’s it, right?

This is a question that is almost as old as the classic “What came first the chicken or the egg?” It’s a question that the amazing employees of feminist sex shop Good for Her hear all the time. The lovely Nebin Barclay is gracious enough to share how she responds to the question.

“It depends on the tone: Is it genuine or is it condescending?” she says. “If it’s a genuine question then we are more than happy to help. I’d suggest The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman. It’s informative and offers instruction on masturbation with a partner or solo play and the anatomy of the vagina. There’s also sex educator Tristan Taormino. She has several DVDs depending on if the person is interested in softcore or hardcore, certainly the important art of cunnilingus is featured.

“It’s okay for people to be curious if it’s coming from a good place and to take the leering-ness out it,” she adds.

As a femme I find the question comes up a lot, especially since I tend to like femmes (not excluding those cute sexy tomboys, of course). But once the “What’s your type?” question is answered people get a ridiculous picture in their heads. Most people seem to imagine two pretty girls braiding each other’s hair, a pillow fight with feathers flying everywhere and afterward the two girls rubbing up against each other. Yay!

I was at a house party a couple weeks ago and the topic of sex came up as it always does, especially with alcohol being consumed. After several cups of vodka mix drinks I somehow found myself with a beautiful femme girl sitting on my lap. She told me she thinks women are beautiful and that she suspects she might be bisexual. Lucky me!

Her boyfriend didn’t seem to mind the flirtation at all and just kind of stood around watching. That’s the loophole of being femme — I am able to get away with behaviour that had a straight guy attempted there would have been trouble. I’m not excusing that train of thinking, just stating a general attitude I’ve noticed. Men don’t seem to find me threatening at all. Certainly they’re not threatened by the possibility of having their porn fantasies come to life.

Despite all the interest in femme-on-femme sex there’s still the sense we’re missing out somehow. But I’ve found each and every one of my sexual experiences with a girl to be highly pleasurable and very satisfying. It’s downright arrogant and egotistical to think a woman can’t have incredible orgasmic sex without a man’s participation. When I still had sex with men I distinctly remember wishing we had another girl involved, because for me something was definitely missing.

It’s odd. Women are constantly sexualized in our culture, from music videos to movies and fashion magazines. But at the same time our sexuality is never taken seriously.

I’ve decided the next time I’m asked how two women have sex my response will be a play on an old joke: “Very carefully.”