Busting Sex Myths Is Scissoring Really A Thing

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In an episode from season two of Orange is the New Black, a scene opens with two characters performing a stereotypical lesbian sex act – scissoring. Sitting up and facing one another on a bed, legs intertwined, they grind and moan. Every so often, they adjust; “No, wait, like that…” After a few moments, they collapse in laughter.

One says, “I told you scissoring isn’t a thing!”

As a queer woman, I noticed right away that the show’s writers were using an in-joke about lesbian sex to have it both ways. Viewers who love to see two naked actresses grind up on each other get that titillation, while the show’s queer audience gets a winking acknowledgement of the ways television is always getting our sex lives wrong.

I appreciated the joke, but it also filled me with a familiar sadness. I am here to tell you that scissoring is most definitely a thing – an erotic, full-bodied, multi-orgasmic thing, and one of my personal favorite sex acts. Somewhat counter-intuitively, my opinion is extremely unpopular among some sex-positive queer communities. I am in so many social situations where scissoring is being ridiculed that I usually don’t even bother to defend it.

So what is scissoring exactly? Take two pairs of ordinary scissors, open them up, and press them together at the joint as if you’re making two Barbies “have sex.” Now, imagine those shears are legs, and the joints are a couple of vulvas.

Two women – or trans or genderqueer folks with the corresponding equipment – can and do get dirty this way. They can press and rub their genitals together. It’s basically like intercourse without the “inter” part. Some get off from the friction or wetness, and some people just enjoy the intimacy or naughtiness.

I love scissoring because it’s a huge turn-on to be so up close and personal with my partner. When I am topping with a strap on, I really get off on grinding my hips, feeling powerful and in control of my partner’s pleasure. It’s a more tactile and psychological kind of arousal, and less genitally focused. Personally, I am not always in the mood to be penetrated – but I’m always in the mood for naked kissing, groping, dirty talk, and intimacy. Scissoring satisfies all of those needs.

Granted, I do understand the reasons that so many gay women treat the subject of scissoring with disdain. If you don’t understand lesbian sex (which many people do not), and you don’t have a lot of imagination (ditto), you might imagine that two ladies would get it on in a style that mimics heterosexual sex. In reality, not everyone’s body is built to grind in that way, and many women prefer to be penetrated with hands or toys, or more directly clitorally stimulated.

For a voyeur who is attracted to the female form, two women rubbing against one another is a very pleasing thing to watch. Many people see this as the only point of of scissoring – to put on a show for the male gaze. But with scissoring, there is plenty to enjoy about rubbing up against someone besides optimal positioning for getting the penis in the vagina.

“If there wasn’t a camera here and I was making love to you, this is what we would do and this is how we would do it.”

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