According to Urban Dictionary’s top-rated definition, third base is fingering. As the writer puts it, “The best way to remember them is, of course, the four ‘F’s. French, Feel, Finger, Fuck.” Know Your Meme agrees: third base is fingering or hand jobs. However, Urban Dictionary’s third-most popular definition (the second is literally about baseball) says third base is either oral sex or fingering, and several other popular definitions agree. The next entry suggests third base can include even anal sex. Definition #6 addresses the confusion, but ultimately takes a strong stance: “Controversially debated, but the modern accepted definition of 'Third Base' is both fellatio and cunnilingus.” I polled my Twitter followers, and "oral sex" won, with "fingering/hand jobs" not far behind.
Whether you see “third base” as oral or digital sex (or, I guess, anal sex), it’s what comes before the “home run," which is... penis-in-vagina sex. And placing P-in-V sex as “further along” the sexual activity spectrum than fingering, oral sex, and anal sex leaves out a lot of people — yet another reason why the baseball metaphors should be retired. (The other biggie? The metaphor frames sexual activity as something you “win” from an opponent, rather than something you do together with a consenting, enthusiastic partner.)
Plenty of sexually active LGBTQ+ folks never have P-in-V sex at all, and plenty of straight cis people prefer other sex acts to P-in-V intercourse. Oral sex, anal sex, fingering, and hand jobs can totally “count” as sex, and they’re not “less than” P-in-V sex. “When we hyper-focus on the penetrative act, we’re leaving so many people behind, and we’re also leaving out so much room for what pleasure can look like during the experience as well,” Cameron Glover, sex educator and host of the podcast Sex Ed In Color, previously told Refinery29. “I think it’s super important that more people talk about sex as an all-encompassing experience and not just hyper-focus on penis-in-an-orifice.”
So when talking about rounding the bases, maybe stick to actual sports.