Everything I Wish I’d Learned About Lesbian Sex In High School

Photographed by Lula Hyers
Following a night of playing spin the bottle, I had sex with a woman for the first time. After drinking grotesque amounts of Martini and lemonade (the only thing my parents wouldn’t notice were it to go missing), I found myself lying next to Josie. We were both 15 and she had been my biggest crush, as well as the most popular girl in school.
In stark contrast to Josie, I was awkward, extremely body conscious and had a social standing similar to Janis Ian from Mean Girls. It was a complete mismatch and a complete miracle, which I wasn’t going to let slip through my fingers. We locked eyes, and after everyone went to bed, we began kissing. Before I knew what was happening, she grabbed my hand, pushed it underneath her skirt and placed it between her thighs. I was terrified.
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I managed to push both my fear and her underwear to one side, feeling with my fingertips. Feeling for what? I had absolutely no idea. At that age, I hadn’t even explored touching myself fully. My masturbation routine involved humping a pillow in my bunk bed while listening to "Justify My Love" by Madonna until I came. It’s not like anyone had given me any guidance at my Catholic school, where chastity and not getting pregnant were next to godliness, and pleasure was deemed more sinful than the heinous skirts we were all forced to wear.
So in my clueless state, I decided to rub. Up and down, for the next 10 minutes. She definitely didn’t orgasm and it definitely wasn’t the best sex of either of our lives. But the way it felt when she moaned as I touched her was indescribable. All I knew was that I wanted to repeat that feeling, over and over again.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about lesbian sex and I continue to learn as I get older. Obviously not from school or TV or anything culturally or educationally mainstream, but from listening to sexual partners and queer friends. Taking note of how I’ve felt at times when boundaries have been breached in sex, and deconstructing it, has helped me to create a safer space, for sex to be free and experimental. In doing so, I’ve broadened my understanding of consent, boundaries and the possibilities of pleasure.
Over the years, since coming out, I’ve been asked many questions about sex between two women. Nearly all of them deeply offensive. Usually asked by drunk cis straight men/women and the occasional gay man. These questions are always framed as a joke: "I don’t understand lesbian sex, do you just lie around fiddling with each other?" And as our sex continues to be misunderstood, our sexuality continues to be pushed through a male gaze or erased entirely.
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Defining sex as valid only if a penis is present is so limiting and harmful. It wholly disregards a woman’s autonomy in her own desire. Sex is so many things. And so, because nobody told me, I’m here to pass on my pearls of lesbian wisdom about some (but not all) of the things it can be.
Scissoring
The actual scissoring position is bullshit. A complete male fantasy. However...
Tribbing
Have you ever tribbed? You’ve never lived! Not really. As with all sex, it depends on what you like. And I love it. Tribbing, or humping, is the act of rubbing your clit on her clit and other parts of each other. You can do it in many different positions and it feels amazing. The best part about it is that you get to wrap yourself around each other, get really sweaty and really go for it.
Kissing
I’ve spent hours, afternoons and weekends kissing. Skipped lectures and nearly failed my second year of uni due to kissing. I’ve ruined my underwear kissing. And I don’t regret any of it (well, maybe my second year results). Kissing encompasses everything I do with a partner. It’s how I discover where she likes to be touched on her body and vice versa. Never stop kissing. It’s how you tune into what someone likes.
Consent
Consent isn’t just yes or no. Consent changes all the time. Listen.
Fingers
Now I’m not going to say fingers are the most important part of lesbian sex, but they play a big role. They’re used to touch, feel, circle, rub and tease your partner. Your fingertips can be used to lightly map every inch of someone’s body. They can be used to penetrate and they can be used to caress. It all depends on what you want and what you enjoy. As long as you both communicate, you’ll each get what you like. Which leads me to fingering. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. I’ve had shuddering orgasms from being fingered, both hard and soft. I’ve also experienced a lot of pain and discomfort from it. Always start with a low number of digits, go slowly and let the receiver set the pace. Also watch out for finger cramp.
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Clitorises
Don’t treat the clit like it's the only glazed doughnut in the box. Don’t press it like a button that immediately powers an orgasm. Thanks to the very educational 3D print of the clitoris in recent years, we know that it’s not just what we see on the surface. It’s a similar shape to a wishbone. Sexy. It spreads down, along the labia minora and labia majora. Utilise every inch of her. Don’t just focus on one spot with the same movement and wait for an orgasm. Variation in both location and pressure is key.
Vaginas
As we all know, they come in many shapes, sizes and hairstyles. There’s a wide range of difference between innies and outties, or a combination of the two. You may have prominent inner lips, asymmetrical lips, small lips or full outer lips. There’s no perfect pussy formula (as porn may have led us to believe) and they’re supposed to vary. Some women don’t have vaginas, but with communication, respect and trust you can unlock a whole world of pleasure here, too. As for hair, this is all down to the individual and what you prefer to see between your own legs. Wax, shave, trim or leave it how it is; you decide. Personally, I just trim my hair and have stopped battling with trying to remove the hair around my butthole, it’s there to stay now. Just have fun and embrace the beauty of our individual differences.
Orgasms
One of the most off-putting things you can do during sex is to focus solely on having an orgasm. It completely disregards the importance of the pleasure along the way. If your head is between her legs and all you can think is 'Has she come yet?' you’re more than likely distracting her from the big O. All that does is create pressure (the wrong kind). I’ve been on the edge of climax and then thought, 'Why haven’t I come yet?' And in doing that, completely waved goodbye to any chance of coming. Pressure to orgasm isn’t sexy. Sometimes you come, sometimes you don’t. The most important thing I’ve learned from this is to be present in what you’re doing and be patient.
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Oral
Flatten your tongue, take your time and don’t hold back. Breathing through your mouth when you’re going down on someone can be really hot. Women can taste really different and that’s sexy. Go lightly, build the pace or completely submerge yourself. Just remember to keep checking in with what she wants, listen to her and the body language she’s giving you. If you get the chance, make eye contact, it makes everything better.
Breasts/Nipples
The degree of touch is all down to the individual. Use your tongue to feel out what the person wants. It might be nibbling, sucking and teasing. Or it could be brushing your thumb against them lightly. Personally, I don’t take much pleasure at all in my nipples being touched. And I let my partners know this. Sometimes I want to feel my breasts pressed up against theirs and sometimes I want to wear a sports bra. It all varies.
Stimulation
Basically it's about multitasking. You’ve got to stimulate her clit and G-spot at the same time. Not always, but I mean, kinda always.
Kinks
Talk about them. If you don’t say what you like, you’re never going to get close to exploring it.
Periods
Sex on your period can be amazing. When you’re on your period you have higher levels of testosterone in your body. What does this mean? For me and a lot of us, it means we become very, very horny. So let go of worrying about bleeding everywhere and just go for it! Blood is a lubricant and completely natural. Masturbating during a period relieves cramps and leaves you with orgasmic endorphins that carry you through bad PMS. I probably masturbate more when I’m on my period and I thank myself for it all the time.
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Masturbating
Learning what you like and don’t like is invaluable. It opens you up to being free with partners because when you know what makes your pussy pop, you’re on the way to making some else’s do the same.
Strap Ons/ Toys
For a while I rebelled against my own desire to use and wear a strap on. I kept asking myself why I wanted to – I don’t need the phallus in order to achieve pleasure. Eventually, though, I discovered that toys and strap ons could be yet another glorious implement in our arsenal of pleasure. If you want to wear a strap on and get turned on by the fantasy of having a massive dick, do it. The same can be said if you want to get off on the idea of having a multicoloured unicorn phallus. It's all hot. Just make sure everyone is consenting and everyone is on board. Go forth, pick a colour, girth and length (that is suited to the one receiving). I personally prefer briefs to a harness, they’re comfy and quicker to put on in the heat of the moment. Just make sure you use plenty of lube and clean everything afterwards.
Anulingus
Give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Once I let go of worrying about what my butthole looked like, I got to experience the sensation of a tongue circling a spot which I never knew could contain so much pleasure.
Sexual Health
Full disclosure is advisable, but only if safe to do so. It’s imperative to ensure that both you and your partner are as safe as can be, so take necessary precautions: Get regular check-ups, and seek treatment where necessary.
So, back to the reductive question: What is lesbian sex? My answer is always the same: Sex between two women is a bunch of multiple orgasms and pleasures waiting to happen. We’re the lucky ones.
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