The Fundamentals of Outercourse
I was in 8th grade and one of the days during recess my peers were losing it. There were chants of “he went for the second base with her”, and I was heavily confused. “Why is there a baseball reference being floated around?”, was my first thought. It was only a year later someone ‘enlightened’ me about the ‘bases of sex’—the first base, that included kissing only; the second base, that was limited to the bust area; the third base, which meant anything ‘oral’; and finally, the most prestigious intercourse, home run. Mind you, only the home run qualified as a winner; it was really sex. Penetrate, or go home – their motto.
Since when did sex become a sport?
Consuming mainstream porn that guided our worldview of sex is the most prominent cause for that. For many, exposure to cishet porn shapes their perception of sex at a very young age. Looking at bodies that seem far from flaws, with not a single hair to be seen, pink vulvas, and gigantic penises—it’s only natural to feel out of sync with ourselves and our bodies. Add to the list, penetration being seen as the ‘last scene’, an ending act; eventually reducing sex to intercourse only (read: penis-in-vagina). When we really sit down and think about it, this narrative of ‘penetrative sex is sex’ has perpetuated a patriarchal, misogynistic and blurry mindset; one where you start giving more importance to ideas of virginity, climaxing, and the penis itself. The act has thus been projected as a 100-meter race where only one person can win the prize. This definition of sex has not only been exclusive of many queer folx but also disregards the vulva and female sexuality.
Even though most films and pop culture references over the years have provided a skewed representation of what having sex is like, the modern discourse is definitely a breath of fresh air. Shows like Sex Education and Big Mouth on Netflix took the matters into their own hands when they introduced the term ‘foreplay’ and showed your favorite characters exploring their bodies and that of others. Before we delve any deeper, let’s understand the connotation of this word. The ‘fore’ in foreplay literally means, before. Hence, foreplay comes before the ‘actual play’, or intercourse.
But, doesn’t that declare intercourse as the ‘main event’?
Of course, it does! The essence of foreplay lies in the anticipation of a penetrative act in the future. This is definitely something that needs more attention especially right now, given how many individuals still struggle with their identity and sexuality as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. For WLW or lesbian relationships, the notion of foreplay may put unnecessary pressure on the presence of a phallus – that not only reduces them but also denies them inclusivity in terms of pleasure. Recently, wholesome terminologies such as ‘Outercourse’ and ‘Sensual Play’ have been introduced to improve the rhetorical aspects. Hence, even though the list of activities that make it up are the same, just the mere usage of the same is liberating. Therefore, sex is outercourse, intercourse, or anything you want it to be!
The beauty of outercourse is in its subjectivity – how people may interpret certain acts as outercourse or not, and the amount of autonomy it gives to the partners to indulge in sexual play without prioritizing penetration. Acts ranging from kissing, holding hands, cuddling, sexual rubbing of bodies to sex toy play, masturbation, and oral sex — all constitute what is known as sensual play. The use of outercourse can help validate one’s sexual experiences as a separate entity, even if penile-vaginal intercourse wasn’t involved. It is crucial to provide people the independence to allow for any changes they’d want to make to the definition of sex. Gone are the days when the societal norms governed our view of sex. Instead, take a deep dive into the pool of sexual intimacy, and see what you may find!
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So, what are you waiting for? Satisfy your senses, traverse La La Land, and decide what sex means for you. Because it’s the 21st century and you gotta own your pleasure baby!
About the author
Anuja Razdan (she/her) is our creator in residence + mental & sexual health advocate, who studied her Masters in Psychology from Savitribai Phule Pune University. Being a queer cis woman who is aspiring to practice as a psychotherapist in future, she hopes to essentiate a queer affirming, intersectional feminist, pleasure-positive and kink allied approach towards mental health—on a personal & professional level. All-in-all, she’s your quintessential dog lady with a blue typewriter, living three blocks away, probably writing about you.