GREAT SEX: Mapping Your Desire
Aggressor descriptor of a person of any gender or sexual orientation who enjoys directing a sexual activity or situation, with vigor and authority, to the delight of a consenting partner.
Blow-jobs sexual activity wherein one partner takes another’s penis, endowed or constructed, into one’s mouth to gratify another partner.
Butch an identity term used by some masculine-identified lesbian women to describe their gender and sexual expression. It is sometimes used by others, notably gay men, to describe masculine gender presentation. Some folks believe butch is about clothing. But butch is really about essence, spirit, and a language of sex.
Cheating/Cheaters descriptor of a person who commits to any relationship configuration (monogamous, monogamish, polyamorous, etc.) and then breaks the covenant through lies and deceit.
Clitoris a significant sex organ of some female-identified persons and women; the clitorial hood encases the clitoral glans which is located at the top of the labia. Possessed of thousands of nerve endings, the clitoris is extraordinarily receptive to stimulation. Sexism has distorted both the art and science of the clitoris for thousands of years. Until recently, the clitoral hood and glans, or joy button, were mistakenly believed to be the clitoris in its entirety. In fact, the clitoris extends beneath the labia and has a much more extensive field of stimulation. Additionally, under patriarchy the clitoris has alternately been ignored (women don’t need or deserve pleasure) or feared (women’s pleasure is dangerous and inappropriate to good womanhood) and/or overly emphasized as a site of pleasure. Women/female-identified people who were not born with clitorises and women whose clitorises have been marred or destroyed by patriarchal aggression can still attain intense sexual pleasure via the pursuit of their authentic desires (see Desire Mapping) and attention to their responses to various sexual stimuli. In the US, manual and oral stimulation of the clitoris are common routes to orgasm in women. Tribadism or rubbing/mashing the clitoris against the vulva, pubic mound, penis, or the thigh of a consenting partner is another common clitoral route to orgasm.
Constraint some people use consensual restriction of movement or bondage as a transportive device in sex; skilled partners in constraint may train in such mediums as knot-tying or duct tape mummification. A simple use of constraint may be to hold a partner down by the wrists while kissing or penetrating them. In sexual situations, consensual constraint can stimulate significant release of endorphins and intensify pleasure.
Cunnilingus sex act wherein one partner licks and sucks the clitoris, labia and vagina of a consenting partner to their great pleasure. Also called going down, muff diving or carpet munching.
Desire a yearning, centered in the body, mind, heart and/or spirit to connect with or enter the body, mind, heart or spirit of another or the self. Often experienced as a surprise, a shock to the system, a loss of control, heat, chill, stammer, a roil of embarrassment, or an ecstatic revelation.
Desire Mapping a process of individual or collective inquiry that uncovers a person’s sex and desire stories for the purpose of claiming and pursuing one’s authentic desires.
Dominant/Top descriptor of a person of any gender or sexual orientation who is gratified by demonstrating aggressive, directive and controlling sexual behaviors to the delight of a consenting partner; the term dominant/top is also associated with penetrative sexual behaviors. Top is often conflated with masculine identity and bottom with feminine identity; this is a limiting, patriarchal construction that bears no resemblance to the ways that top/bottom play out IRL.
Ejaculation when a person of any gender shoots liquid from a sex organ as a culminating, orgasmic response. People of all genders may ejaculate; people of any gender may not.
Endorphins a hormone secreted in the body that has a morphine-like, calming and pleasurable affect. All kinds of sexual activities may prompt the release of endorphins – depending on your desire map.
Exhibitionist descriptor of a person of any gender or sexual orientation who is gratified by showy displays of their body, sexual expression or sexual activities to the delight of a consenting audience.
Feminine spectrum people who express their gender on the feminine spectrum often pursue clothing, mannerism and action typically assigned to the “female” gender within a traditional, binary system. Despite the truth that all of these categories are shaped by patriarchy, history, culture, racism and myriad other social factors and systems, many people proudly claim and embody the feminine spectrum as resistance to systems of gender control. For others, the feminine spectrum is a set of attributes or characteristics in a system of gender they affirm and appreciate.
Gay a term describing the sexual orientation of men seeking male sex partners. “Gay” is often used casually as an umbrella term for the LGBTQ community. Some women use gay to describe their same gender loving orientation, as in gay woman.
Gender describes a spectrum of characteristics pertaining to the socially constructed categories of masculinity and femininity. In mainstream US culture, gender is posited as a binary of male and female. In queer US culture, gender is understood to be a fluid spectrum, with limitless genders and gender expressions within.
Gender Expression a term describing how a person presents or expresses his or her gender to others, often through manner, clothing, hairstyle, voice, body art and/or body modification.
Gender Identity a term describing a person’s internal sense of gender. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily perceived by or visible to others.
Gender Non-Conforming a term for individuals whose gender expression is different from societal expectations around gender binaries and/or expressions assigned to a particular gender. See genderqueer as well.
Genderqueer or Gender Outlaw descriptor of a person of any gender or sexual orientation who rejects the prevailing binary system of gender that recognizes only two genders, male and female. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (2011), we found more than 500 genders. Gender Outlaws also challenge the standard assignment of characteristics that have been arbitrarily ascribed to these categories (i.e. women are soft and emotional; men are strong and stoic), creating a rigid construct of gender polarities rather than a fluid, dynamic, ever changing and evolving world of infinite genders and gender expressions.
Heterocentric a term describing a system that holds heterosexuality as a primary, central or best sexuality and all other sexualities as secondary, outsider or deviant sexualities.
Inappropriate Attachment an attachment that endangers or controls a partner due to their vulnerable status. This vulnerability may be based in age, immigrant or citizenship status, gender, partnership commitments, language, employment status, housing situation, mobility, sexual orientation or economic circumstance.
Intergenerational Sex describes sex between consenting partners of legal age whose ages span at least one generation (commonly defined as at least an 18-year age difference). Sex with a person who is not of legal age is statutory rape, not intergenerational sex.
Kink or Kinky sexual activities that lie outside of monogamous, heterosexual, white-defined, male-dominated expressions form a loose category of kinky sexual expressions. Kinky activities may involve domination, role-playing, sensory deprivation, piercing, playing with bodily fluids such as urine or blood, multiple partner scenarios, binding, spanking and/or other physically aggressive acts such as punching or caning. Consent, creativity, power exchange and pleasure are the bedrock of kinky sexualities.
LGBT or LGBTQ shorthand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer
Libido describes one’s desire for intimate or sexual connection, commonly discussed as ‘sex drive,’ but many people who do not pursue sex have robust libidos. Libido fluctuates wildly among people. Some experience their libidos as insistent ‘drivers’ of their intimate, social and sexual life, others experience it as a faint or tenuous hum streaming through their social and sexual lives. People may experience significant changes in their libidos at different life stages like adolescence or early parenthood. When people complain of ‘low libido,’ as discussed in Great Sex, it is because they want to express and act on their sexuality more often or with more vibrancy than their libido currently directs or inspires them to. This is a condition that Desire Mapping proposes to address.
Lies deliberate or unconscious fabrications that mask what you understand or believe to be true about yourself, others or events. People often lie about their desire and the sex they are having/have had due to shame. Others lie to hide inappropriate attachments or sex that involves broken commitments.
Masculine Spectrum people who express their gender on the masculine spectrum often pursue clothing, mannerism and actions typically assigned to the “male” gender within a traditional, binary system. Despite patriarchal and white supremacist constructions of masculinity that create violent versions of maleness, many men proudly resist toxic masculinities that limit expressiveness and vulnerability, eschewing power-over modes of relating.
Masturbate any act of self-stimulation that creates sexual pleasure.
Monogamish a relationship configuration wherein partners agree that while one may have sexual contact outside of the primary relationship, or recruit playmates for shared activities, emotional attachments or significant, ongoing relationships are prohibited. A shorthand for this might be: Don’t let anyone follow you home.
Monogamy – a relationship configuration wherein partners agree that all sexual activity resides exclusively within the relationship between or among the partners.
Open Relationships a relationship configuration wherein partners create guidelines for engaging in fleeting sexual activities, ongoing sexual relationships or significant additional partnerships, depending on the needs and values of the partners.
Orgasms culminating sexual event during sex where there is momentous release; this may or may not result in ejaculation for people of any gender.
Pain some people use careful, escalating discomfort as a transportive device in sex; skilled evocations of pain in sexual situations can stimulate significant release of endorphins and intensify pleasure.
Penetrative Sex sexual activity that enters or pierces any openings of the body – mouth, ears, vagina, anus, penis, etc.
Power Play sexual activities wherein one or more participants consensually relinquish power to another participant or participants, and one or more partners assume control or dominate a sexual situation or relationship, to the delight of all participants.
Queer An “umbrella” identifier that lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people use to describe the LGBT community. For some, the term is a political assertion of dissent with heteronormative culture and society, and claims identity and community across sexual orientations and gender identities. Used as a reclaimed epithet for empowerment by many, it is derogatory when issued by straight folks to negatively describe LGBT people or experience.
Relationship Jail an eventually stifling enclosure that is often mutually constructed when two or more people first fall in lust or love to the exclusion of all others, especially close friends. Additionally, relationship jail may develop later in a relationship if commonplace jealousies and insecurities are not addressed and partners become controlling.
Rough Sex sexual activity that partners consensually define as rough may include wrestling, hitting, constraint, invasive penetration, or any number of activities that bring about pleasure through “rough” play.
Self-critic an inner voice streaming negative judgments of the self.
Sex an embodied group of activities that pursue and express one’s spiritual, emotional and physical desire for the self and/or others. Sex may include verbal or physical stimulation of any and all of one’s or a partners’ orifices, genitals, and sex-receptive parts of the body or psyche. Common sex acts are: kissing including deep penetration of the mouth with the tongue; oral exploration of another’s body including all areas of the skin, and tongue penetration of the ears, vagina or anus; digital, clitoral or penile stimulation of the penis, vagina or anus; and digital, clitoral or penile penetration of the mouth, ears, vagina or anus.
Many people are sexually gratified via what are considered “non-sexual” activities and may achieve orgasm this way. There is literally an infinite range of such activities. A few that are commonly discussed include domination of or submissive devotion to a partner; consensually inflicting or receiving pain; or fulfilling a partner’s very specific fantasy related to a fetish, such as being bound or worshipping their feet. But there are a zillion less discussed “non-sexual” pathways to pleasure, such as shopping at midnight for one’s partner’s favorite foods; cleaning out the linen closet; swimming naked at sunset; pouring hot wax on your partner’s back. Any and all of us pursue sexual activities that maximize and achieve our desires on our own terms and time, in the contexts that are meaningful to our own unique yearnings.
Sex Jail a stifling enclosure that is constructed when one partner non-consensually imposes the terms of appropriate or acceptable desires or sexual activities in a fleeting or ongoing sexual partnership. In this case, one person’s desires rule and the other is jailed.
Sex-phobic a fear-based relationship to sex and sexuality demonstrated by stigmatizing, judgmental and constraining actions/beliefs about sexual expression and desire.
Sexual Orientation a term describing a person’s sexual attractions, behaviors or identities, usually as it relates to the gender of their partners. Common sexual orientations pertaining to gender include lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual and can also include queer, pansexual and asexual, among others. However, more and more, some are foregrounding sexual activity or relationship configurations in their sexual orientation, so that Kinkster, for example, or Polyamorist might be one’s primary sexual orientation, with gender playing a less relevant or defining role. Sexual temperament – descriptor of what might be described as one’s underlying sexual disposition or character. Experienced as a given, akin to personality.
Sexuality all things related to sex and sexual orientation. See definitions.
Straight a term describing the sexual orientation of men and women seeking opposite-gender sex partners. Straight may also be used to describe someone who eschews kink or other ‘outsider’ forms of sexuality.
Submissive/Bottom descriptor of a person of any gender or sexual orientation who is gratified by compliant, deferential or subservient sexual behaviors to the delight of a consenting partner; the term submissive/bottom may also describe a person with a passion for sexually receptive behaviors.
Taboo a socially constructed line in the sand that defines immoral acts or inappropriate attachments. Taboos can be helpful and appropriate to family formation and clan survival, such as the incest taboo, which deems sexual relationships within an immediate family immoral and illegal. Or they can be very damaging, such as believing anyone who engages in consensual incest play with an appropriate partner is sick or should be arrested.
Traditional or ‘vanilla’ sexuality has been constructed on a foundational view of a male dominant partner penetrating a female partner in the missionary position. LGBTQ partnerships may also pursue vanilla expression – constructed as an opposite to kinky sexuality which often involved power exchange across genders, pain and fetish play. Vanilla sexual expression, like kink, is not abusive by definition but individual practitioners may hoard power, manipulate and exploit or abuse their partners.
Transgender an “umbrella” identifier for people whose gender identity or expression is different than those associated with the sex assigned at birth, on their birth certificates. This includes transsexuals, androgynous people, cross-dressers, genderqueers, and others.
Transgression an act of crossing a boundary, a line in the sand established by a particular regime, order or set of rules or expectations. Positive transgressions in sex and sexuality often involve defying expectations or limits established around one’s identity or identifiers.
Trigger a word, action, gesture, sight, sound or smell that moves you from the present moment to a previous moment that involved trauma, violation or abuse of some kind. This moment may be hours or decades in the past. Since our sexual expression often involves vulnerability in connection to another person, we can often find ourselves moved back in time to moments where traumatic, abusive events occurred when we make a powerful sexual connection to another. These traumatic events may be undergirded by racism, intergenerational violence, sexist slurs or violence, rape or sexual assault, or other kinds of violence based on race, gender, gender identity, religion, citizenship status, youth, etc. Building an empowered sexuality involves being able to identify and claim our triggers and actively work with them to stay in the present moment while honoring our own personal, embodied history. Learning from and addressing our triggers leads to being able take care of ourselves in our sexual lives and our lives in the larger world.
Truth a belief or report reflecting your authentic experience, understanding or observation; in terms of Desire Mapping, truth is often a deeper knowing that hides or rests beneath a carefully constructed presentation of one’s desire, sexual identity or expression.
For sex and gender terms that you need further help defining or understanding, consult the Search Engine of your choice! Research. Have fun.
Name Tagging Exercise Desire Tags