Lesbian Sex FAQS:  How many times weekly?

Lesbian Sex FAQS: How many times weekly?

Lesbian Sex:  Frequently Asked Questions Series

How many times does the average lesbian couple have sex per week?

This is a question I asked 496 lesbians whom I surveyed in 2011 while working on my dissertation for my PhD in Clinical Sexology.  The topic of my dissertation was lesbian sex and relationship satisfaction.

Lesbians were asked to report how frequently they had had sex within the six months prior to taking the survey.  If they were single, they were asked to reflect on the last six months of the last relationship they were in.  Clearly, self-report is subject to memory and as a therapist who works with lesbian couples on a daily basis, I can attest that self-report varies among lesbian couples when asked, “How often would you say you have sex per week?”  Not surprisingly, the satisfied partner often recalls a higher number of sexual encounters with her partner than the unsatisfied parter.

Here’s the lesbian sex chapter of my dissertation regarding how often lesbian couples are having sex.

However, here’s what was reported by the 496 lesbians surveyed.

lesbian sex, times per week

When you add up the top three options, no sex, once per month or less you have 49% of lesbians having sex 0 – 1 times per month.  On the other end, you have roughly 32% having sex 1-4 times per week.  In the middle, there is 20% having sex 2-3 times per month.  So, it would seem that lesbians tend to fall into two different camps – sexually active at a fairly regular rate or minimally sexually active.

Summary of how often lesbian sex occurs with lesbian couples:

  • 49% = 0-1 x’s per month
  • 47% = 2x’s a month to 3x’s a week
  • 5% = 4 or more times a week

 

Read : 11 Erogenous Zones – tips for Lesbian Sex

 

Lesbian Sexual Frequency Dissertation References

This is a dissertation by Michele O'Mara, PhD on the topic of Sexual Frequency and Relationship Satisfaction Among Lesbians.  Tap here to read the entire dissertation in a pdf format.

 

WORKS CITED

Abelove, H., Barale, M. A., & Halperin, D. M. (1993). The Lesbian and gay studies reader. New York: Routledge.

Alexander, C. J. (1996). Gay and lesbian mental health: A sourcebook for practitioners. New York: Haworth Park Press.

Althof, S. E. (2001). My Personal Distress Over the Inclusion of Personal Distress. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27(2), 123-125. doi: 10.1080/00926230152051761

Apfelbaum, B. (1988). An Ego Analytic Perspective on Desire Disorders. In S. R. Leiblum& R. Rosen (Authors), 75-105 Sexual desire disorders. New York: Guilford.

Bancroft, J., Graham, C., & McCord, C. (2001). Conceptualizing Women’s Sexual Problems. Sex and Marital Therapy, 27, 95-103.

Basson, J. B., Arthur Bur, R. (2001). Report of the International Consensus Development Conference on Female Sexual Dysfunction: Definitions and Classifications. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27(2), 83-94. doi: 10.1080/00926230152051707

________. (2001). Female sexual response: The role of drugs in the management of sexual dysfunction. Obstetrician Gynecologist, 98, 350-353.

________. (2006, April 6). Sexual Desire and Arousal Disorders in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 354, 1497-1506.

________. (2007). Sexual Desire/Arousal Disorders in Women. In S. R. Leiblum (Author), Principles and practice of sex therapy. New York: Guilford Press.

Bauer, E. J. (2004). Glbtq social sciences Hirschfeld, Magnus. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/hirschfeld_m%2C3.html

Bernstein, F. (2004, March 7). On campus, rethinking biology 101. New York Times.

Berzon, B. (1990). Permanent partners: Building gay & lesbian relationships that last. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Betty, D. (1972). Sensory Research Corporation. Union. N.J.: Sensory Research Corporation. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from https://rmc.library.cornell.edu/HRC/exhibition/stage/REX023_158.pdf

Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. (1983). American couples: Money, work, sex. New York: Morrow.

Blyth, S., & Straker, G. (1996). Intimacy, fusion and frequency of sexual contact in lesbian couples. South African Journal of Psychology, 26(4), 253-256.

Bryant, A. S., & Demian. (1994). Relationship Characteristics of American Gay and Lesbian Couples:. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 1(2), 101-117. doi: 10.1300/J041v01n02_06

________. (1995). Partners Task Force National Survey of Lesbian & Gay Couples: Summary of Results. Buddybuddy.com. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from https://buddybuddy.com/survey.html

Burch, B. (1982). Psychological merger in lesbian couples: A joint ego psychological and systems approach. Family Therapy, 9, 201-208.

________. (1986). Psychotherapy and the dynamics of merger in lesbian couples. In T. S. Stein & C. J. Cohen (Authors), Contemporary perspectives on psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men (pp. 55-71). New York: Plenum Medical Book.

Cabaj, R. P., & Stein, T. S. (1996). Lesbian Sexuality. In Textbook of homosexuality and mental health (pp. 723-742). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Cage, D. (2004). On our backs guide to lesbian sex. Los Angeles: Alyson Books.

Caldwell, M., & Peplau, L. (1984). The balance of power in lesbian relationships. Sex Roles, 10(7-8), 587-599. doi: 10.1007/BF00287267

Califia, P. (1988). Sapphistry: The book of lesbian sexuality. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.

Caron, S. L., & Ulin, M. (1997). Closeting and the quality of lesbian relationships. Families in Society, 78(4), 413-419.

Carroll, L., & Turner, J. A. (1999). A Comparative Study of Relational Interconnectedness, Merger, and Ego Development in Lesbian, Gay Male, and Heterosexual Couples. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 9(1), 51-67. doi: 10.1300/J041v09n01_03

Cass, V. (2007). The elusive orgasm: A woman’s guide to why she can’t and how she can orgasm. New York: Marlowe &.

Caster, W. (1993). The lesbian sex book. Boston: Alyson Publications.

________. (2008). The new lesbian sex book. New York: Alyson Books.

Causby, V., Lockhart, L., White, B., & Greene, K. (1995). Fusion and Conflict Resolution in Lesbian Relationships. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 3(1), 67-82. doi: 10.1300/J041v03n01_06

Chenier, E. (2004). GLBTQ social sciences Lesbian Sex Wars. GLBTQ: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012

Chivers, M.L. (2003). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Northwestern University, Evanston, USA.

Clayton, A. H. (2010). The pathophysiology of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 110(1), 7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.02.014

Clinton, Kate. “Lesbian Bed Death.” E-mail message to author. April 30, 2011.

Clunis, D. M., & Green, G. D. (2005). Lesbian couples: A guide to creating healthy relationships. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

Cole, E. (1993). Is sex a natural function: Implications for sex therapy. In E. D. Rothblum& K. A. Brehony (Authors), Boston marriages: Romantic but asexual relationships among contemporary lesbians (pp. 188-193). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Conrad, F. (2001). The Ladder 1959: DOB questionnaire reveals some facts about lesbians. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 5(4), 1-24.

Corinne, T., Lapidus, J., & Sloan-Hunter, M. (1982). Yantras of womanlove. [Tallahassee, Fla.]: Naiad Press.

Corwin, G. (2010). Sexual intimacy for women: A guide for same-sex couples. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Davis, C., Hung-Yu, L., & Bonillas, C. (1996). Characteristics of vibrator use among women. Journal of Sex Research, 33(4), 313-320.

D’Emilio, J., & Freedman, E. B. (1997). Intimate matters: A history of sexuality in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (1980). [S.l.]: Amer Psychiatric Assoc.

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-III-R. (1987). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR. (2000). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Diamond, L. M. (2003). Was it a phase? Young women’s relinquishment of lesbian/bisexual identities over a 5-year period. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84(2), 352-364. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.84.2.352

________. (2003). What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review,110(1), 173-192. doi: 10.1037//0033-295X.110.1.173

________. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Doan, L. L. (2001). Fashioning Sapphism: The origins of a modern English lesbian culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

Dominowski, P., & Bartholet, A. (1997, July). The Listener Survey Toolkit: How many surveys must be returned to make the results valid? WKSU. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from https://www.wksu.org/toolkit/chapter3/section4.html

Downey, J. I., & Friedman, R. C. (1994). Internalized homophobia in lesbian relationships. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 23(3), 435-447.

Duggan, L. (2000). Sapphic Slashers: Sex, violence, and American modernity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Esterberg, K. G. (1994). Being a lesbian and being in love: Constructing identity through relationships. In L. A. Kurdek (Author), Social services for gay and lesbian couples (pp. 57-82). New York: Haworth Press.

Faderman, L. (1981). Surpassing the love of men: Romantic friendship and love between women from the Renaissance to the present. New York: Morrow.

________. (1991). Odd girls and twilight lovers: A history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fassinger, R., & Marrow, S. (1995). Overcome: Repositioning lesbian sexualities. In L. Diamant& R. McAnulty (Eds.), The psychology of sexual orientation behavior, and identity (pp. 197-219). Westport: Greenwood Press.

Fisher, H. E. (2004). Why we love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love. New York: H. Holt.

Garnets, L, Peplau, L.A. (2006). “Research and Clinical Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging.” In Research and Clinical Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging, by D.C. Kimmel, T.Rose, and S. David (Eds.), 70-90. New York: Columbia University Press.

Glagow, J. (2004). Glbtq literature Hall, Radclyffe. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.glbtq.com/literature/hall_radclyffe.html

Good sexual intercourse lasts minutes, not hours, therapists say. (2008, March 31). Penn State Live -. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://live.psu.edu/story/29833

Gottman, J. R., Levenson, W., Gross, J., Fredrickson, B. L., McCoy, K., Rosenthal, L., & Yoshimoto, D. (2003). Correlates of Gay and Lesbian Couples’ Relationship Satisfactin and Relationship Dissolution. Journal of Homosexuality, 45(1), 23-43.

Gray, D., & Isensee, R. (1996). Balancing autonomy and intimacy in lesbian and gay relationships. In C. J. Alexander (Author), Gay and lesbian mental health: A sourcebook for practitioners (pp. 95-114). New York: Haworth Park Press.

Green, R. J., Bettinger, M., & Zacks, E. (1996). Lesbians and gays in couples and families: A handbook for therapists. In J. Laird & R. J. Green (Authors),Lesbians and gays in couples and families: A handbook for therapists (pp. 185-230). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hall, M. (1987). Sex therapy with lesbian couples: A four stage approach. Journal of Homosexuality, 14(1-2), 137-156.

________. (2001). Not tonight, dear, I’m deconstructing a headache–confessions of a lesbian sex therapist. In E. Kaschak & L. Tiefer (Authors), A new view of women’s sexual problems (pp. 161-172). New York: Haworth Press.

Hall, R. (2005). The well of loneliness. Ware, Hertforshire: Wordsworth Editions. Harper, D.

Online Etymology Dictionary. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0

Harris, E. L. Sisley & Bertha. (1988). The Joy of Lesbian Sex: a Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle. New York: Random House Value Publishing.

Hawton, K., Gath, D., & Day, A. (1994). Sexual function in a community sample of middle-aged women with partners: Effects of age, marital, socioeconomic, psychiatric, gynecological, and menopausal factors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23(4), 375-395. doi: 10.1007/BF01541404

Hendrix, H. (1988). Getting the love you want. New York: Harper and Row.

Herbenick, Debby. (2009). Because It Feels Good: a Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Books.

Hill, C. A. (1999). III. Fusion and Conflict in Lesbian Relationships? Feminism & Psychology, 9(2), 179-185. doi: 10.1177/0959353599009002010

Hite, S. (2004). The Hite report: A nationwide study of female sexuality. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Humphreys, L. (1972). Out of the closets; the sociology of homosexual liberation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hurlburt, D., & Apt, C. (1993). Female sexuality: A comparative study between women in homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 19, 315.

Hyde, S. (2011, March 2). Lesbian bed death [E-mail].

Iasenza, S. (2002). Beyond ‘lesbian bed death’: The passion and play in lesbian relationships. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 6(1), 111-120.

Igartua, K. J. (1998). Therapy with lesbian couples: The issues and the interventions. Journal of Psychiatry, 43(4), 391-396.

Irvine, J. M. (2005). Disorders of desire: Sexuality and gender in modern American sexology. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Janssen, E. (2007). The psychophysiology of sex. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Jay, K., & Young, A. (1972). Out of the closets: Voices of gay liberation. New York: Douglas Book Corporation.

Jochild, M. (2008). Meta Watershed. : WOMEN’S WRITING AND MUSIC, 1968-1979 (UPDATED). Retrieved February 1, 2012, from https://maggiesmetawatershed.blogspot.com/2008/07/womens-writing-and-music-1968-1979.html

Johnson, Susan E. (1990). Staying Power: Long Term Lesbian Couples. Tallahassee, Fla.: Naiad Press.

Kaplan, H. S. (1974). The new sex therapy; active treatment of sexual dysfunctions. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

________. (1977). Hypoactive sexual desire. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 354(1), 3-9.

________. (1979). Disorders of sexual desire and other new concepts and techniques in sex therapy. New York: Simon and Schuster.

________. (1995). The sexual desire disorders: Dysfunctional regulation of sexual motivation. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Kaschak, E., & Tiefer, L. (2001). A new view of womens sexual problems. New York: Haworth Press.

Kerewsky, S. D., & Miller, D. (1996). Lesbian couples and childhood trauma: Guidelines for therapists. In J. Laird & R. J. Green (Authors), Lesbians and gays in couples and families: A handbook for therapists (pp. 298-315). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kerner, I. (2004). She comes first: The thinking man’s guide to pleasuring a woman. New York: ReganBooks.

Kimmel, D. C., Rose, T., & David, S. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.

Kinsey, A. C. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

Kitzinger, C., & Wilkinson, S. (1995). Transitions from heterosexuality to lesbianism: The discursive production of lesbian identities. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 95-104. doi: 10.1037// 0012-1649.31.1.95

Klienberg, S., & Zorn, P. (1995). A therapeutic approach to strengthening lesbian relationships. In J. M. Glassgold& S. Iasenza (Authors), Lesbians and psychoanalysis: Revolutions in theory and practice (pp. 125-143). New York: Free Press.

Klinkenberg, D., & Rose, S. (1994). Dating Scripts of Gay Men and Lesbians. Journal of Homosexuality, 26(4), 23-35. doi: 10.1300/J082v26n04_02

Koedt, A. (1970). The myth of the vaginal orgasm. Somerville, MA: New England Free Press.

Koepke, L., & Moran, P. B. (1992). Relationship quality in a sample of lesbian couples with children and child-free lesbian couples. Journal of Applied Family & Child Studies, 41(2), 224-229.

Krestan, J., & Bepko, C. S. (1980). The Problem of Fusion in the Lesbian Relationship. Family Process, 19(3), 277-289. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.1980.00277.x

Kurdek, L. A. (1988). Relationship Quality of Gay and Lesbian Cohabiting Couples. Journal of Homosexuality, 15(3-4), 93-118. doi: 10.1300/J082v15n03_05

________. (1991). Sexuality in homosexual and heterosexual couples. In K. McKinney & S. Sprecher (Authors), Sexuality in close relationships (pp. 177-191). Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.

________. (1998). Relationship outcomes and their predictors: Longitudinal evidence from heterosexual married, gay cohabitating, and lesbian cohabitating couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60, 553-556.

Laird, J. (2000). Gender In Lesbian Relationships: Cultural, Feminist, And Constructionist Reflections. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26(4), 455-468. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2000.tb00316.x

Laumann, E. O. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Leiblum, S. R. (1988). Introduction: Changing Perspective on Sexual Desire. In S. R. Leiblum& R. Rosen (Authors), Sexual desire disorders (pp. 1-15). New York: Guilford.

Leif, H. (1977). Inhibited sexual desire. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 7, 94-95.

Lever, J. (1995, August 22). The 1995 Advocate survey of sexuality and relationships: The women. The Advocate.

Loulan, J. (1984). Lesbian sex. San Francisco: Spinsters Ink.

________. (2011, September 29). Lesbian bed death [E-mail to the author].

________, & Nelson, M. B. (1987). Lesbian passion: Loving ourselves and each other. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

________,, & Thomas, S. (1990). The lesbian erotic dance: Butch, femme, androgyny, and other rhythms. San Francisco: Spinsters Book.

Macdonald, B. J. (1998). Issues in therapy with Gay and Lesbian couples. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 24(3), 165-190. doi: 10.1080/00926239808404931

Mackey, Richard A., Bernard A. O’Brien, and Eileen F. Mackey. (1997). Gay and Lesbian Couples: Voices from Lasting Relationships. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Paperback.

Masters, W. H., & Johnson, V. E. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

________., & Johnson, V. E. (1970). Human sexual inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.

________., Johnson, V. E., Kolodny, R. C., & Masters, W. H. (1986). Masters and Johnson on sex and human loving. Boston: Little, Brown.

Matthews, A., Tartaro, J., & Hughes, T. (2003). A comparative study of lesbian and heterosexual women in committed relationships. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7(1), 101-114.

McCandlish, B. M. (1982). Therapeutic Issues with Lesbian Couples. Journal of Homosexuality, 7(2-3), 71-78. doi: 10.1300/J082v07n02_09

McGleughlin, J. (2012, February 15). Lesbian bed death [E-mail to the author].

McKenzie, S. (1992). Merger in Lesbian Relationships. Women & Therapy, 12(1-2), 151-160. doi: 10.1300/J015V12N01_12

Mencher, J. (1997). Intimacy in lesbian relationships: A critical reexamination of fusion. In J. V. Jordan (Author), Women’s growth in diversity: More writings from the Stone Center (pp. 311-330). New York: Guilford Press.

Menopause. (2008, April). National Institute on Aging. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause

Michelle. “Lesbian Bed Death A Self Inflicted Curse.” Lesbian Bed Death: A Self-inflicted Curse? June 8, 2009. Accessed February 29, 2012.

Solot, D. & Miller, M. (2007). I [heart] Female Orgasm: an Extraordinary Orgasm Guide. New York: Da Capo Press.

Mintz, L. B. (2010, June 23). Stress and Sex. A First Hello from a High-Strung, Low Libido Therapist Who Stays Calm and Has Great Sex. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stress-and-sex/201006/first-hello-high-strung-low-libido-therapist-who-stays-calm-and-has-great

Mohr, J. J. (1999). Same-sex romantic attachment. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Authors), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 378-394). New York: Guilford Press.

Moir, S. (2011, August 19). Lesbian bed death [E-mail to the author].

Montopoli, B. (2010, June 09). Poll: With Higher Visibility, Less Disapproval For Gays. CBSNews. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20007144-503544.html

Morin, J. (1995). The erotic mind. London: Headline.

Munson, M., & Stelboum, J. P. (1999). The lesbian polyamory reader: Open relationships, non-monogamy, and casual sex. New York: Haworth Press.

Newman, F. (2004). The whole lesbian sex book: A passionate guide for all of us. San Francisco: Cleis Press.

Nichols, M. (1983). The Treatment of Inhibited Sexual Desire (ISD) in Lesbian Couples. Women & Therapy, 1(4), 49-66. doi: 10.1300/J015V01N04_07

________. (1987). Lesbian sexuality: Issues and developing theory. In Lesbian psychologies: Explorations and challenges (pp. 97-173). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

________. (1988). Low sexual desire in lesbian couples. In S. R. Leiblum (Author), Sexual desire disorders (pp. 387-412). New York u.a.: Guildford Pr.

________. (1990). Lesbian relationships: Implications for the study of sexuality and gender. In D. P. McWhirter, S. A. Sanders, & J. M. Reinisch (Authors),Homosexuality/heterosexuality: Concepts of sexual orientation (pp. 351-363). New York: Oxford University Press.

________. (1995). Sexual desire disorder in a lesbian couple: The intersection of therapy and politics. In R. Rosen & S. R. Leiblum (Authors), Case studies in sex therapy (pp. 161-175). New York: Guilford Press.

________. (n.d.). Rethinking Lesbian Bed Death. Institute for Personal Growth. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from https://www.ipgcounseling.com/sites/ipgcounseling.com/files/content/pdf/2rethinking_lesbian_bed_death.pdf

Ohl, L. E. (2007). Essentials of Female Sexual Dysfunction from a Sex Therapy Perspective: Normal Female Sexual Function. Medscape. Retrieved February 7, from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/555706_2

Orel, N. (2006). Community Needs Assessment: Documenting the Needs for Affirmative Services for LGB Older Adults. In D. C. Kimmel, T. Rose, & S. David (Authors), Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives (pp. 175-194). New York: Columbia University Press.

Orgasm. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Orgasm

Ossana, S. (2007). Relationship and couples counseling. In K. J. Bieschke, R. M. Perez, & K. A. DeBord (Authors), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients (pp. 275-302). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Pardie, L. (1997). Merger and fusion in lesbian relationships: A problem of diagnosing what’s wrong in terms of what’s right. Women and Therapy, 20(3), 51-61.

Patterson, D. G., & Schwartz, P. (1994). The social construction of conflict in intimate same-sex couples. In D. D. Cahn (Author), Conflict in personal relationships (pp. 3-26). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Peplau, L. A. (2001). DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR ARTICLE Rethinking women’s sexual orientation: An interdisciplinary, relationship-focused approach.Personal Relationships, 8(1), 1-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2001.tb00025.x

________. (2003). Human sexuality: How do men and women differ? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(2), 37-40. doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.01221

________., & Cochran, S. D. (1980). Sex differences in values concerning love relationships. Lecture presented at Annual Meeting of American Psychological Association, Montreal.

________., & Fingerhut, A. W. (2007). The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men. Annual Review of Psychology, 58(1), 405-424. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085701

________., & Garnets, L. D. (2000). A New Paradigm for Understanding Women’s Sexuality and Sexual Orientation. Journal of Social Issues, 56(2), 330-350. doi: 10.1111/ 0022-4537.00169

________., & Ghavami, N. (2009). The relationships of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. In The encyclopedia of human relationships. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

________., Cochran, S., Rook, K., & Padesky, C. (1978). Loving Women: Attachment and Autonomy in Lesbian Relationships. Journal of Social Issues,34(3), 7-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1978.tb02611.x

________., Padesky, C., & Hamilton, M. (1983). Satisfaction in Lesbian Relationships. Journal of Homosexuality, 8(2), 23-35. doi: 10.1300/J082v08n02_04

________., Mays, V., & Cochran, L. (1997). A national survey of the intimate relationships of African American lesbians and gay men: A look at commitment, satisfaction, sexual behavior and HIV Disease. In B. Greene (Ed.), Psychological Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Issues: Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Among Lesbians and Gay Men (pp. 11-38). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Pettis, R. M. (2004). Glbtq social sciences Ellis, Havelock. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/ellis_h.html

Prause, N., & Graham, C. (2007). Asexuality: Classification and Characterization”, Archives of Sexual Behavior. Retrieved January 1, 2012, from https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/publications/PDF/PrauseGraham.pdf

Rapp, L. (2002). Glbtq arts Etheridge, Melissa. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.glbtq.com/arts/etheridge_m.html

Richters, J., and Rissel, C. (2005). Doing It Down Under: the Sexual Lives of Australians. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.

________., J. (April 2007). Researching sex between women. Invited presentation in forum on Gay and Lesbian Research Studies, 1st World Congress of Sexual Health (18th World Congress of World Association of Sexology), Sydney. Abstract S24-2 in 1st World Congress for Sexual Health, Achieving health, pleasure and respect, Sydney April 15–19, 2007: Abstract book.Boulogne Billancourt: Regimedia, p. 30.

________., J, Grulich, A. E., de Visser, R. O., Smith, A. M. A., & Rissel, C. E. (2003). Sex in Australia: Sexual and emotional satisfaction and preferred frequency of sex among a repre­sent­ative sample of adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 27, 171–179.

Rothblum, E. D., & Brehony, K. A. (1993). Is sex a natural function: Implications for sex therapy. In Boston marriages: Romantic but asexual relationships among contemporary lesbians (pp. 188-193). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

________., & Brehony, K. A. (1993). Boston marriages: Romantic but asexual relationships among contemporary lesbians. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Ryan, C., & Futterman, D. (1998). Lesbian & gay youth: Care & counseling. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sand, M., & Fisher, W. A. (2007). Women’s Endorsement of Models of Female Sexual Response: The Nurses’ Sexuality Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 4(3), 708-719. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00496.x

Sanders, S. A. (2010). Misclassification Bias: Diversity in Conceptualizations about Having ‘Had Sex’ Sexual Health, 7(1), 31-34. doi: 10.1071/SH09068

Schell, J. (2011). Her sweet spot: 101 sexy ways to find and please it. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

________., & Schell, J. (2008). Lesbian sex: 101 lovemaking positions. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Schreurs, K. G., & Buunk, B. P. (1996). Closeness, Autonomy, Equity, And Relationship Satisfaction In Lesbian Couples. Psychology of Women Quarterly,20(4), 577-592. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00323.x

________.. (1993). Sexuality in lesbian couples: The importance of gender. Annual Review of Sex Research, 4, 49-66.

Schulte, C. (2005). Tantric sex for women: A guide for lesbian, bi, hetero, and solo lovers. Alameda, CA: Hunter House.

Schwartz, PhD, P. (2011, March 2). Lesbian bed death [E-mail to the author].

Scott, M. (2008, March 04). How Long Does Good Sex Last? The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/02/survey-endurance-not-the_n_94789.html

Segraves, R., Balon, R., & Clayton, A. (2007). Proposal for Changes in Diagnostic Criteria for Sexual Dysfunctions. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 4(3), 567-580. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00455.x

Shaw, J. (1998). Journey toward intimacy: A handbook for gay couples. Atlanta, GA: Couples Enrichment Institute.

Sisley, E. L., & Harris, B. (1977). The joy of lesbian sex: A tender and liberated guide to the pleasures and problems of a lesbian lifestyle. New York: Crown.

Sisters, The Nomadic. (1976). Loving Women. 2nd Revised ed. Sonora, California: The Nomadic Sisters.

Smalley, S. (1987). Dependency Issues in Lesbian Relationships. Journal of Homosexuality, 14(1-2), 125-135. doi: 10.1300/J082v14n01_10

Smith, D. (2011, December 05). South African lesbians live in fear, report finds. The Guardian. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from https://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/south-africa-lesbians-human-rights?INTCMP=SRCH

Soliday, E. (1996). The attitudes of undergraduate college students toward gay parenting. Journal of Homosexuality, 30, 63-77.

Stendhal, R., (2003). True secrets of lesbian desire: Keeping sex alive in long-term relationships. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Stevens, T., & Wunder, K. (2002). Lesbian sex tips: A guide for anyone who wants to bring pleasure to the woman she (or he) loves. Asheville, NC: Amazing Dreams Pub.

TEE CORINNE: The Shy Superstar Of Lesbian Erotica. (2012). 5 Election. Retrieved February 2, 2012, from https://5election.com/2011/12/01/tee-corinne-the-shy-superstar-of-lesbian-erotica/

Testa, R. J., & Ironson, G. (1987). Heterosexual bias in the perceptio nof loving relationships of gay males and lesbians. Journal of Sexual Response, 23, 163-172.

The Joy of Sex. (2012, March 15). Wikipedia. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Joy_of_Sex

Theophano, T. (2004). Glbtq social sciences Boston Marriages. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from

Tiefer, L., Hall, M., & Tavris, C. (2002). Beyond Dysfunction: A New View of Women’s Sexual Problems. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 28(Sup1), 225-232. doi: 10.1080/00926230252851357

U, P. R. (2005). Redirect Page. American Psychological Association (APA). Retrieved March 17, 2012, from https://www.apa.org/governance/

Van Rosmalen-Nooijens, K. L., Vergeer, C. M., & Lagro-Janssen, A. M. (2008). Bed Death and Other Lesbian Sexual Problems Unraveled: A Qualitative Study of the Sexual Health of Lesbian Women Involved in a Relationship. Women & Health, 48(3), 339-362. doi: 10.1080/03630240802463343

Vicinus, M. (1993). They Wonder to Which Sex I Belong: The Hisorical Roots of the Modern Lesbian Identity. In The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (pp. 432-452). New York: Routledge.

Waxman, J. (2007). Getting Off: a Woman’s Guide to Masturbation. Berkley, California: Seal Press.

________. (2007). Women loving women: Appreciating and exploring the beauty of erotic female encounters. Gloucester, MA: Quiver.

Weeks, J. (1989). Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual Identities. In Passion and Power: Sexuality in History (pp. 70-86). Philadelphia: Temple University.

West, C. (1996). Lesbian polyfidelity: A pleasure guide for all women whose hearts are open to multiple sensualoves, or, how to keep nonmonogamy safe, sane, honest & laughing, you rogue! San Francisco: Booklegger Pub.

Whipple, B. (2002). Women’s Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. A new view of female sexual function. The Female Patient, (27), 39-44.

Wilson, T. (2002). Glbtq arts Corinne, Tee. Glbtq: The World’s Largest Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from https://www.glbtq.com/arts/corinne_ta.html

Zerbe, L. (2011, November 29). Low sex drive. Rodale News. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from https://www.rodale.com/low-sex-drive

How Often Should Lesbian Couples Have Sex?

This is a dissertation by Michele O'Mara, PhD on the topic of Sexual Frequency and Relationship Satisfaction Among Lesbians.  Tap here to read the entire dissertation in a pdf format.

 

CHAPTER TEN

CONCLUSION

The purpose of the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey was to determine the correlation between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction among lesbians. This researcher was successful in achieving this goal, and also revealed the following information in the process: the sexual frequency of lesbian couples in the twenty-first century, a contemporary definition of lesbian sex according to lesbians themselves, the sexual behaviors in which lesbians regularly engage, and the satisfaction levels with sex as it relates to sexual frequency.

This researcher hypothesized that there is not a strong correlation between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction among lesbians. Based on findings from the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, this researcher concludes that while there is a correlation between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction, the correlation is not strong. To determine the correlation between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction for lesbians, four key questions had to be answered. These questions were the following: “How do lesbians define sex?”, “What are contemporary lesbians doing sexually?”, “How frequently lesbians are lesbians actually having sex?”, and, “How satisfied are lesbians with their relationships?”

The first question answered in this research was, “How do lesbians define sex?” The results of the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey revealed that how lesbians define sex has become more inclusive over the last thirty years. Lesbian sex was most commonly defined by the respondents in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction study as one of three behaviors between women: oral sex, vaginal penetration, or clitoral stimulation. The older the respondent, the more likely she was to include non-genitally focused activities in her definition of sex. The younger the respondent, the more likely she was to include anal stimulation in her definition of sex. The majority of contemporary lesbians also agree that an orgasm is not a requirement when defining lesbian sex.

Next, this researcher answered the question, “What are contemporary lesbians doing sexually?” Not only has the definition of sex expanded to include more activities, but the actual sexual behaviors of lesbians also bring more diverse experiences to the 21st century lesbian than the 20th century lesbian. While foreplay and kissing during sex continue to be the most consistent ingredients in the sexual repertoire of lesbians, penetrative sex with a vibrator/dildo and oral sex have increased in popularity over the last three decades.

Masturbation rates have remained stable over the past few decades; lesbians masturbate roughly three to four times per month. The majority of lesbians (84%) experience orgasms when they have sex. The research also revealed that the most common technique used by lesbians during sex is clitoral stimulation (finger sex), followed by penetrative sex. Oral sex is the least common of the top three behaviors considered “having sex” by lesbians. Lesbians also reported that they like to take their time when they have sex, with seventy-nine percent having engaged in sexual sessions that characteristically lasted thirty minutes or longer.

With answers to how lesbians define and practice sex, this researcher next answered the question, “What is most important in a relationship for lesbians?” The most important aspects of a relationship for lesbians are a strong emotional connection and a strong intellectual connection. Among the various relationship characteristics evaluated in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, sexual frequency surfaced as least important to lesbians.

Lesbians who placed the greatest value on sexual frequency were those partnered for three to five years, and those who lived together with no children. The majority of women (55%) reported that sex was not the issue that caused their relationships to end, and of those who cited sexual issues as the motivation for their relationship’s demise, twenty-eight percent indicated that it was caused by a difference in desired sexual frequency.

The next question this researcher answered was, “How frequently are lesbians having sex?” When compared to research dating back to the 1980s, the findings in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey suggest that the frequency of lesbian sex has not increased. In fact, when compared to some studies, the rates of lesbian sexual frequency have experienced a slight decline.

Finally, this researcher then answered the question, “How satisfied are lesbians with their relationships?” In lesbian relationships, the least satisfied couples were those who were partnered between six and ten years. This is valuable information for the clinician who strives to normalize the various phases of relationship development, offering clients affirmation that they are not alone in their relationship struggles. This information is also useful in promoting the importance of greater attention to lesbian relationships during these years, as the lower satisfaction rates may lead to more breakups if appropriate interventions are not made during these years.

Unlike heterosexuals, lesbians do not have clear roadmaps to guide the development of their relationships. Even if heterosexuals reject the traditional paths that are socially prescribed for relationship development (dating, engagement, marriage, children, etc.), there is, at least, a point from which to consciously deviate. Lesbians, however, are left to trial and error. There is little information available to guide lesbians as they seek to understand the dynamics of their own relationships.

While analyzing the data provided in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, it became apparent that the number of lesbians who are raising children together is increasing, and the average length of a lesbian relationship is longer than it was decades ago. This makes sense in the context of increasing societal acceptance of lesbian relationships. With acceptance comes a higher level of family support, which is important for creating lasting partnerships and families, regardless of sexual orientation. Another benefit of social acceptance for lesbians is the likelihood that lesbians will have a greater respect for their own relationship.

Prior research has emphasized the comparison of sexual frequency between the various couple dyads, inferring that lesbian sexuality is somehow impaired because of the consistently lower rates of frequency that result from this comparison. This researcher believes there is no need to compare frequency rates between couple dyads, and that the rate of sexual frequency is not central to the health or success of lesbian relationships. This researcher rejects the assumption that heterosexuals represent the healthy standard by which lesbians must be compared. By rejecting this comparison, it is easier to see relationships created between women as a unique and separate experience, and this allows for the comparison of apples to apples, rather than apples (lesbians) to oranges (heterosexuals).

According to the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, lesbian couples experience a relatively dramatic decline in sexual frequency after they have been partnered for only six months. The most significant decrease in sexual frequency is found among lesbians who live together, regardless of whether or not children are living with them. Lesbians between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years old report the lowest rates of decline in their sexual frequency. This is also the most sexually active group of lesbians in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey based on age. The highest drop in frequency occurs with lesbians who are fifty-one to sixty years old. The most commonly reported reason for a decline in sexual frequency is stress, and only twenty percent of the Frequency vs. Satisfaction sample denied a loss of sexual frequency in their relationships.

This leads to the big question on which this research is based. Do the lower rates of sexual frequency, and the rapid declines in sexual frequency, impact the overall relationship satisfaction for lesbians? Ironically, lesbians in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey rated sexual frequency among the least important variable of their relationships, yet they report this is also what they are least satisfied with in their relationship.

The Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey suggests that a slight change in sexual frequency in either direction appears to have no serious consequences on lesbian relationship satisfaction. However, when sexual frequency is not fully satisfying, the negative impact on overall relationship satisfaction is not as great as the positive impact of a fully satisfying rate of sexual frequency. In a lesbian relationship, an emotional connection has a much stronger impact than sexual frequency does. This applies equally to negative and positive changes in the emotional connection that lesbians share.

After analyzing the data of the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, this researcher reached several conclusions. First, lesbian relationship development follows a strong, consistent pattern for the majority of lesbian couples. The pattern starts when lesbian couples partner with a particular emphasis on the emotional attraction, which is prized more highly than any other aspect of the relationship throughout the course of their relationship, no matter how long their relationship lasts. Sexual connection between lesbians is strongest at the start of the relationship, and dramatically declines after the first year lesbian couples are partnered. Lesbians experience the greatest decline in relationship satisfaction between years six and ten, and lesbian couples who make it to their eleventh anniversary begin to experience incremental improvements in relationship satisfaction as their relationship continues.

Another conclusion this researcher reached is that sexual frequency does influence relationship satisfaction; however, it appears the power of its influence is unidirectional. Higher sexual frequency correlates with higher relationship satisfaction. The reverse, however, is not true. Lower sexual frequency does not correlate with lower relationship satisfaction.

Couples who experienced a slight decrease in sexual frequency were still fully satisfied ninety percent of the time, and couples who experienced a slight increase in sexual frequency were also fully satisfied ninety-percent of the time. The groups who most frequently reported that their relationship was not satisfying were comprised of the following: those who stopped having sex (24%) and lesbians who reported a significant increase in their sexual frequency (13%).

Lesbians who ceased all sexual activity had relationship satisfaction ratings that were distributed fairly evenly among the three levels of satisfaction. Thirty-four percent were fully satisfied, forty-two percent were moderately satisfied, and the lowest group was twenty-four percent who were not fully satisfied. Of the lesbians who reported a significant decrease in sexual frequency, fifty-three percent indicated they were very satisfied with their overall relationship, forty-one percent reported they were moderately satisfied, and only six percent reported they were not satisfied.

There is no discernible pattern in satisfaction ratings that indicates a strong correlation between sexual frequency and overall relationship satisfaction. Many of the reported changes in sexual frequency (slight increase, slight decrease, moderate increase, no changes, and significant increase) do not seem to greatly impact the overall relationship satisfaction of lesbians.

The changes in sexual frequency that are associated with the lowest satisfaction ratings (significant decrease and stopping all together) do not elicit strong negative responses from lesbians in terms of their overall relationship satisfaction. Interestingly, the two categories that draw the strongest negative ratings for overall relationship satisfaction are women with a significant increase in sexual frequency (13%) and women who have stopped having sex all together (24%).

A moderate increase in sexual frequency does not pose any harm to relationship satisfaction. Ultimately, it appears that any amount of sex is important to lesbians, and even though lesbians generally want more sex than they are having, the absence of sex does not decisively detract from relationship satisfaction.

Ninety percent of lesbians who are fully satisfied with their sexual frequency are also fully satisfied with their overall relationship. This suggests that when sexual frequency is satisfying, there is a strong possibility that the relationship in general will be satisfying. However, when looked at from the opposite perspective, lesbians who report that they are not fully satisfied with their sexual frequency still state they are fully satisfied with their overall relationship thirty-nine percent of the time, and moderately satisfied thirty-three percent of the time. This means the majority of lesbians (72%) do not identify their overall relationship as not fully satisfied regardless of how infrequently they are having sex.

Only twenty-eight percent of lesbians with unsatisfactory sexual frequency report they are not fully satisfied with their overall relationship. When sexual frequency is not fully satisfying, the negative impact on overall relationship satisfaction is not as great as the positive impact when sexual frequency is fully satisfying. Therefore, the positive impact of satisfying rates of sexual frequency is greater than the negative impact of unsatisfying rates of sexual frequency for lesbian couples.

In conclusion, sexual frequency bears more relevance to relationship satisfaction than this researcher anticipated. However, the data analyzed in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Study does not support a relationship between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction that is strong enough to assert that there is a correlation. Thus, the formal conclusion of this research is that while sexual frequency has the power to positively impact a lesbian relationship, infrequent sexual activity among lesbians does not necessitate the likelihood of lower levels of relationship satisfaction.

Challenges with the Study

There were some challenges with the Frequency vs. Satisfaction study. The sample from which the data was drawn included primarily white lesbians (77%), resulting in a racially homogenous pool of survey respondents. Another concern with the sample was the disproportionate geographic representation. Although eighty-four percent of the U.S. cities are represented in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey with at least one respondent from each state, the majority of the sample (61%) is from the researcher’s home state, Indiana. The imbalance in geographic representation may overemphasize the attitudes, beliefs, and feelings of lesbians in the Midwest, which is commonly believed to be more conservative. This geographic bias may skew the survey results.

Another concern about the sampling process results from the outreach method used. Because the research was conducted by a psychotherapist who specializes in the care of lesbian individuals and couples, the survey outreach may have included a disproportionate number of lesbians who are in therapy. This also has the potential to bias the survey outcomes, assuming that lesbians in therapy may present with more concerns about their relationship than lesbians not in counseling.

A third concern with the study relates to the use of self-report to gather data. In some cases, lesbians were asked to rely on their memory of a relationship that was terminated up to six months ago. The greater amount of recall that is required, the greater margin of error there is in the ultimate findings. Additionally, lesbians who were recounting their experiences of a prior relationship may have a biased perception of that relationship depending on how it ended. If the relationship ended poorly, they may experience negative recall, which could influence their thoughts about relationship satisfaction, or even their feelings about the frequency of sex and other variables explored in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey.

Areas identified for future research

Several additional questions surfaced while researching the topic of sexual frequency as it correlates with relationship satisfaction. One of the findings in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, as well as Lever’s Survey (1995), shows that no matter how much sex lesbians are having, they generally report the desire for more. This particular dichotomy of infrequent sex by lesbians who state a wish for more seems to be at the heart of the lesbian sexual dilemma. Further research may prove helpful in answering this question: What is preventing lesbians who report a desire for more frequent sex from having more sex?

Another unanswered question that surfaced during this study is, “How does perceived relationship security influence sexual frequency in lesbian relationships?” This is not a topic that was addressed in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, nor is it a topic that this researcher came across in her research. However, it seems that relationship security, or more specifically, the feeling of safety that one’s relationship is strong and stable, appears to be a valuable characteristic to lesbians, and one that is supported by a strong emotional connection. This researcher theorizes the possibility that the greater the perceived relationship security for a lesbian couple, the lower the rate of sexual frequency.

Other areas of interest for further research relate to the universality of lesbian sexual frequency. How do rates of lesbian sexual frequency in the United States compare to other countries, particularly in more progressive countries that provide rights and protections for lesbian relationships? Is there a cultural influence, or even a geographical influence, on sexual frequency among lesbians? Perhaps a study comparing lesbians from selected larger cities such as New York City, New York and Los Angeles, California could be compared to lesbians from smaller cities in the Midwest such as Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. The correlation of race and sexual frequency among lesbians is also a valuable topic to explore.

This worker concludes that the next step in the quest for greater understanding about lesbian sexuality will be best achieved through qualitative research. The most accurate picture of lesbian sexuality will likely require a detailed, longitudinal, qualitative study that tracks the nuances and dynamics of a lesbian couple’s relationship from the initial stages of courtship throughout the course of their relationship. This would allow for new information to surface that has not yet been hypothesized, and for lesbians to give voice to their experiences as they are happening, rather than the subjective nature involved in recalling the events of one’s relationship.

What is most clear to this researcher is that sex between women is uniquely lesbian and without comparison. When juxtaposed with heterosexual or gay male relationships, lesbian sexuality is out of focus, blurred by what is perceived to be “normal” when in fact, lesbian sexuality has no established baseline behavior of its own. As research continues on lesbian sexuality without preconceived notions about how it “should” look or what it “should” entail, interesting and important discoveries will likely be made. Ultimately, lesbian sexuality is already valuable in its own right for its own nuances. Unfortunately, it is not yet well understood. In time, lesbians will be equipped to define their own sexual health through greater understanding of lesbian sexuality as a whole, and when that happens, needed progress will have been made.

Read Chapter Nine

Dissertation References

Sexual Frequency Among Lesbians

Sexual Frequency Among Lesbians

This is a dissertation by Michele O'Mara, PhD on the topic of Sexual Frequency and Relationship Satisfaction Among Lesbians.  Tap here to read the entire dissertation in a pdf format.

CHAPTER SIX

SEXUAL FREQUENCY AMONG LESBIANS

In order to assess the influence of sexual frequency on lesbian relationship satisfaction, it is essential to establish the frequency with which lesbians are actually having sex. This chapter will introduce the concept of lesbian bed death, and will also explore the roots of this phrase. This chapter will reveal how often lesbians are having sex, paying special attention to how the age of the individuals and the length of the relationship affect the frequency of sex within a relationship. Lastly, the frequency of sex outside of the relationship will be explored in greater detail.

Lesbian Bed Death

In 1983, when Pepper Schwartz and Phillip Blumstein revealed to the world that lesbians were the least sexual couple of all couple pairings, a vision of lesbians as non-sexual started to emerged in our culture. This research led to more research (Loulan 1984) which further confirmed that not only were lesbians having less sex than other couples, but they were also experiencing a more rapid and dramatic drop in frequency as their relationships continued. Ultimately, a powerfully descriptive and derogatory three-letter phrase emerged to describe the sexuality of lesbians. That phrase was lesbian bed death (LBD).

Lesbian bed death grabbed the attention of the media, researchers, and comedians, and before long this three letter phrase was regularly associated with the sex lives of lesbians. The origin of this phrase has been attributed to three different women. In researching the etiology of LBD, it became apparent to this researcher that no one had investigated the roots of this term. The three women most commonly cited for coining the phrase are: author of the book Lesbian Sex Joann Loulan; famous lesbian comedian Kate Clinton; and researcher and co-author of the book American Couples, Pepper Schwartz.

In a search for the original creator of the phrase lesbian bed death, this researcher inquired into all three credited sources. First, this researcher inquired with Dr. Pepper Schwartz, co-author of American Couples. Pepper Schwartz responded to this researcher’s inquiry in an email saying, “It is attributed to me—people I know say I said it—but I never wrote it. Sadly, I have no memory about it—so I can’t deny or confirm!” (Schwartz 2011) Unsatisfied, this researcher decided to inquire with the other two sources.

In an email exchange with the author of Lesbian Sex, Joann Loulan stated, “I did not coin the phrase Lesbian Bed Death.” She admitted, “I used it frequently, but of course my life was (and is) trying to make that change within the lesbian community and make sex sexy again” (Loulan 2011).

Finally, this researcher contacted Kate Clinton, who also denied coining the term. Always the comedian, she shared a phrase that she used in her comedy, and she expressed much pride in it. Rather than a same-sex relationship, Clinton jokes that lesbians have a “some sex relationship.” Clinton suggested contacting Sue Hyde, the Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference. Clinton recalled that Hyde’s partner, Jade McGleughlin, may have been responsible for the phrase lesbian bed death (LBD).

In an email response to this researcher’s inquiry, Sue Hyde wrote, “Jade McGleughlin coined the phrase ‘lesbian bed death’ in about 1985 or so. She will need to relate to you the particulars of how her brilliant mind compressed into a three-word unforgettable phrase the entire phenomenon of decreasing lesbian sex activity in long term couples.” She stated, “I believe she used the term in a paper she wrote while at Smith School of Social Work, where she was proceeding towards her LICSW” (Hyde 2011).

In a phone conversation, Jade McGleughlin stated that she did not know exactly how LBD came into being, but she thought that it “coalesced spontaneously among a group of lesbians for whom it captured an experience particular to that moment.” McGleughlin said that she and the other lesbians in her community, whom she described as sex positive feminist queers, “wanted the sexiness of talking about sex, and to have butch-femme power be translated into hot sex” (McGleughlin 2012). McGleughlin reported that the term does not have concrete, traceable roots. Rather, it is something best credited to a group of women at a specific point in history. While she denied credit for coining the phrase, McGlughlin identified herself as the messenger.

She thought she popularized the phrase during the 1987 March on Washington, where she gave a speech during the Sex and Politics Forum, and she also wrote about LBD in her master’s thesis around the same time. Confirming this was Sue Moir, another lesbian whose name surfaced during the search for the roots of LBD. Moir was a friend of McGleughlin’s, and also a part of the group of women discussing this topic. Moir explained to this researcher that she heard this phrase lesbian bed death “at a dyke gabfest in Newton,” and that McGleughlin got it from her. What Moir reported is consistent with what McGleughlin recalled. McGleughlin does not take ownership for creating the phrase, and she speculated that the phrase surfaced within lesbian group discussions. Thus, two separate people, neither of whom claims credit for the phrase, corroborate that the idea of LBD evolved through lesbian group conversations.

Moir also stated that she was present when McGleughlin first used the phrase publicly, saying, “I can tell you it was the first time that audience had heard it” (Moir 2011). McGleughlin stated there was a synergistic effect between the talk of sex within a community of feminist women, and the positive influence this talk had on the sex lives of lesbians engaged in these conversations. McGleughlin’s perception was that LBD included more than the diminishing sex in a lesbian’s personal relationship at the time. She felt it also captured the larger loss of a sexual community where women had grown accustomed to having a public space for sexual discussions, and the excitement of the sexually charged women’s movement.

Lesbian bed death was about more than sex. McGleughlin recalled that at the tail end of the sex wars, the whole experience “seemed to collapse into this phrase—kind of like a screen memory.” There was a real phenomenon of waning sex within lesbian relationships, and lesbians further lost connection to the sexual community once the sex wars ended. McGleughlin stated a few times, “sex couldn’t keep pace with rhetoric—but rhetoric was dying and rhetoric in part produced sex.” This was something of a dialectic, she said, “The theory and the practice were held in tension and constructing and deconstructing each other” (McGleughlin 2012).

Jade McGleughlin stated that LBD “captured a historical moment” during the waning of the sex wars. By giving a name to this moment, she sparked a notion that eventually spread across the United States like wildfire. The message traveled far and wide, and it stuck.

The timing of McGleughlin’s speech also coincided with the lesbian sexuality research (Schwartz and Blumstein 1983, Loulan 1984, 1987) at the time, which became an accelerant for the spread of the LBD message. Ultimately, LBD took on a new and unintended meaning that gave shape to lesbian sexuality as inferior, and in some way doomed. McGleughlin expressed regret about the impact of this phrase. In her opinion, the phrase collapsed the complexity of lesbian sexuality, and what might otherwise have been a historical phenomenon became a “condensation” and “condemnation” of lesbian sexuality (McGleughlin 2012).

The search for understanding about how LBD influenced lesbian sexuality over the last three decades left this researcher with more questions than answers. There is great curiosity about how the topic of lesbian sex, and the phrase LBD, was carried from the east coast to the west coast so swiftly and effectively during an era when the internet was not available to spread information at viral rates. Though it is interesting to uncover the roots of this phrase, the ultimate goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of how this phrase assumed enough power in our culture to influence the perceptions of lesbians as sexually inferior. How did this message spread so quickly, and then remain so active in the cultural consciousness?

The label of LBD devalues lesbian relationships by suggesting that lesbians are inadequate, or worse yet, sexually broken. When the measurement is frequency, lesbians lose the race against heterosexual or gay pairings when it comes to sex. Who benefits if lesbian sex is viewed as inadequate, or inferior to the sex had by heterosexuals?

One theory is that lesbians pose a threat to social order. Historically, men have held the power in our culture, and women have been raised to depend on them, primarily financially, for survival. This pattern has broken down over the years, thanks to the women’s liberation movement and the increase of women in the workforce. However, women still struggle to find equal footing with men in most areas of life. In South Africa, raping a lesbian can make a man a township hero. “Attackers boast publicly of their crimes and declare to their victims: ‘We’ll show you you’re a woman,’ the report said. Such attacks are often referred to as ‘corrective rapes’ in South Africa” (Guardian 2011, 1). A woman without a man in South Africa is not considered a woman at all. As archaic as this perspective seems in 21st century America, it is not unreasonable to think that we are culture that is not yet finished moving slowly out of one view (women are defined by men) and into a new perspective (women are defined by themselves). As we have learned from many other oppressed groups, such as Blacks in America, cultural change is slow, regardless of what is true and right.

Another curiosity that surfaced during this research is about the momentum required to get the message of LBD off the ground. Groups of women were reportedly having regular chats about sex, which served to enhance their own sex lives, and simultaneously fulfilled an important need for a sense of belonging. These participants of these chats percolated the unifying concept of lesbian bed death. From these chats what rose to the surface was the message of lesbian bed death. If McGleughlin’s perception of this phrase is true, it expresses a dual message about loss of sex and loss of community. In that case, the message itself has somehow changed over time, losing the emphasis once placed on the “death” of the community of lesbians who talk about sex.

An alternate theory about the spread of this message is the possibility that it was simply true, and lesbians themselves were seeking personal validation for their own experience. It is possible that the continued discussions, which also kept LBD alive and spreading, provided an outlet for lesbians to validate their experience. Although there has not been much research about lesbian sexuality over the last three decades, the existing research consistently reported low rates of sexual activity for lesbians, with few exceptions (Alicia Mathews et al 2003, Lelita Peplau et al 1997). Research has also consistently shown a quick decline in frequency over the course of lesbian relationships. The reality seems to be that lesbians had, and still have, less sex. This researcher keeps returning to one question. Who cared, and why was this a problem?

Was this a problem for lesbians? Coming out in the 70s and 80s was avant garde behavior. Lesbians were not previously visible to the general public. The best way to establish a sense of belonging is to identify the ways in which you are similar to those with whom you wish to join. If research revealed that lesbians are sexually inadequate during the same time that lesbians were seeking approval for their identity, it seems possible that lesbians themselves would have difficulty accepting this information.

Instead of embracing what is, advocates of lesbians sought, and seem to still be seeking, to disprove the amount of sexual activity that occurs between women, as if to say, “We are like you.” Presumably the assumption is that being like heterosexuals will allow lesbians to be seen as “normal.” This researcher believes that the greatest power is sourced from the truth. It is not important how much sex lesbians are having, or how often lesbians are having sex. What is important is whether or not lesbians are satisfied with their intimate relationships and whether or not they feel empowered to create these relationships according to their own truth, and not a social standard randomly transferred from other couple pairings.

Gay men are reportedly the most sexual of all pairings. If the frequency or amount of sex determines health, then why are gay men not considered the healthiest of all couples? What would have happened if Schwartz and Blumstein discovered that heterosexuals were having the least amount of sex, and that their sexual activity declined more rapidly than the other couple pairs? It is likely that this paper would be evaluating the concern with sexually overactive lesbians, even if their sexual behaviors were exactly as they are now.

Another question that evolved from this research is; How far did the phrase lesbian bed death travel? This researcher decided to briefly explore perceptions of lesbian sexuality in other countries. A cursory look for information about sexual frequency among lesbians in other countries did not reveal much. There was one report on lesbians in The Netherlands/Holland by Karin Van Rosmalen-Nooijens, et al which was conducted in 2008. This study indicated that seventy-six percent of lesbians of all ages experienced a decline in sexual activity.  It appears that the phrase lesbian bed death did not spread far beyond the borders of the United States, but perhaps the phenomena of lower sexual frequency is a shared experience regardless of the country in question.

What does appear consistent is that how lesbians are viewed within a culture is rooted in how women are viewed within that culture. The attitude towards lesbian behavior is directly affected by the role a woman is expected to play in her culture. For example, in Asia a woman’s role is primarily concerned with reproduction. The concept of sexual orientation is irrelevant because sex for women is not about sex, it is about having babies. In Asia any sexual behavior that doesn’t have the goal of procreation is considered an aberration. Thus, homosexuality is not acceptable behavior because it is by its very nature about pleasure.

LBD stereotyped the sex lives of lesbians as defective, inadequate, and inferior to others. This label added another layer of oppression very similarly to the way “sexual inverts” did in the early 20th century. It is useful to consider the history of the term sexual invert, and the influence this term had on cultural perceptions of lesbians. From the mid 1920s to the mid 1970s, lesbians were considered “sick,” “disturbed,” and “deviant.” It took a half-century to transcend the damaging perceptions of lesbians as mentally ill.

History, it is said, often repeats itself. Given this, it is possible, or even likely, that lesbian bed death, much like sexual inversion, will cycle out of the collective consciousness and be replaced by a new, improved perception of lesbians. If lesbian bed death is a concept that evolved in the mid 1980s, history would indicate that by the year 2030, LBD should be nearly erased from the collective consciousness. This does not, of course, mean that lesbians will be having more sex, but the absence of the label will clarify cultural perceptions about lesbian sexuality, and how those perception play out in the sex lives of lesbians.

What makes the most sense to this researcher when assessing the history and influence of the phrase lesbian bed death, is that there was a melting pot of motivations, which led to a conversion of agendas that served multiple purposes simultaneously. Whether it was used as a form of oppression, a way to keep women in their place in society, or whether it was simply because it is true and lesbians needed validation for their truth, the side-effects of this phrase on the sex lives of lesbians has proved unhelpful.

This researcher has concluded that lesbian bed death is a disparaging phrase used to criticize the sexual realities of lesbians in comparison to heterosexuals. It is not the behavior of lesbians that is the problem, it is the grossly inaccurate and irresponsible categorization of these behaviors as inadequate or dysfunctional that is the problem. Debating lesbian bed death validates its merit. This researcher’s conclusion is that lesbians have a bed (a sex life) and it is different than other couple pairs. That difference does not make it dead, it simply makes it different.

To defend LBD suggests that there is something legitimate to argue against. This researcher does not believe in the legitimacy of LBD. It is a misunderstood concept that filled a void of understanding during a time that lesbians were stepping out and exploring the uncharted territory of a visible life among the heterosexual population. The mistake, it seems, was to agree that a lesbian relationship should mirror that of a heterosexual relationship in order to be successful.

As it turns out, in the limited research conducted about the difference between gay and heterosexual relationships, authors such as John Gottoman have concluded that gays and lesbians are more inclined to fight fairly, are not as belligerent with one another as heterosexuals are, and are less domineering and not as fearful with each other. He also discovered that lesbians and gay men make better use of humor when they argue than do their heterosexual counterparts (John Gottman, et al 2003). Is frequent sex more important to a relationship than fair fighting and being kind?

Sexual Frequency of Lesbians

What is the current sexual frequency of lesbians? Question number eight in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction survey asked, “In the last six months, how many times have you had sex (intimate contact intended to create sexual pleasure) with your partner?” Respondents were prompted to fill in the number of times they had sex in the last six months. Four separate categories of frequency were created to quantify the amount of sex that lesbians were having. Women who reported having sex zero to nine times were placed in the category labeled “once monthly or less.” Women who reported having sex between ten and twenty-one times in the last six months were assigned to the category of “two to three times per month.” Women who reported having sex twenty-two to eighty-three times in the last six months were categorized as having sex “one to three times a week.” The final category of “four or more times per week” included women who reported eighty-four or more episodes of sexual activity in the last six months.

The reported sexual frequencies were then rounded to the nearest category. For example, if a woman reported she had sex nine times in the last six months she would be assigned to the category of “once monthly or less.” Nine times in the last six months is obviously more than once monthly, however, it is closer to this category than it is to the next category of “two to three times a month,” and thus the best fit.

Question eight was completed by 416 women. Twelve percent (50 lesbians) of the sample reported having no sex in the last six months. Thirty-seven percent (154 lesbians) of the sample reported having sex once monthly or less. Combined, these groups represent almost half of the sample population, suggesting that the majority of lesbians are having sex once monthly or less. Twenty percent of lesbians reported having sex two to three times a month. Twenty-seven percent of lesbians reported having sex one to three times weekly. Only five percent reported having sex five or more times weekly.

Few studies have been conducted on the sexual frequency of lesbians. One of the most recent studies was published in 2003 by Matthews, Tartaro, and Hughes. In a comparative study of lesbian and heterosexual women in committed relationships, Alicia Matthews, et al found that sixty-nine percent of lesbians and seventy-six percent of heterosexual women reported having sex at least once weekly. These findings are significantly higher than those of this study. Only thirty-four percent of the women in Frequency vs. Satisfaction sample reported having sex at least weekly, as seen in figure seven. It is important to note, however, that the sample size for the Alicia Matthews, et al. study was based on thirty-six lesbians. The small sample size raises questions about the validity of these findings, and the authors acknowledge that the small sample limits their ability to make any generalizations about lesbian sexuality.

Another study done in 1997 by Letitia Peplau, et al also revealed higher rates of sexual frequency among lesbians. This particular study focused on the sexual behaviors of 398 Black lesbians (Letitia Peplau, et al 1997). The findings showed that eleven percent of the Black lesbians reported having sex more than three times a week. This is slightly higher than the eight-percent in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction study. Forty-seven percent of lesbians in Letitia Peplau, et al’s study reported having sex one to three times per week, which is significantly higher than the twenty-nine percent in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey. Forty-one percent of the Black lesbians reported having sex less than once a week, which is significantly lower than the sixty-five percent in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey.

Letitia Peplau, et al acknowledge that the sample is non-representative; however, it does offer insight to the variability of lesbian sexuality. What accounts for the higher rate of sexual frequency among Black women? This is valuable information, given that most of the studies conducted on lesbian sexuality are based on the histories of Caucasian women, including the Frequency vs. Satisfaction sample. While this question is outside the scope of this paper, it is none-the-less a valuable question to note.

The most commonly cited source about lesbian sexual frequency is still Schwartz and Blumstein (1983). The frequency of lesbian sex is presented in the context of length of relationship and the rating of one’s quality of sex life. For the American Couples study, it appears these statistics were based on a total of 768 lesbians. Of these lesbians, 195 report having sex once a month or less, which equals twenty-five percent of the sample. This is significantly lower than the findings in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey which suggest that forty-eight percent of all lesbians in the sample (44% of lesbian couples) are having sex once monthly or less.

The same calculation process reveals that twenty-seven percent of the American Couples sample have “sex between once a month and once a week” This compares to sixty-eight percent of the women in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction sample who have sex between once a month and once a week. The third category offered is “sex between one and three times a week.” This includes 274 lesbians, or thirty-six percent of the American Couple’s sample. This finding does not differ much from the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey, which indicated that twenty-nine percent of lesbians are having sex one to three times per week. The final category of frequency, “Sex three times a week or more,” comprised nineteen percent of the sample. The Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey reported eight percent of women at this level of sexual frequency, which is less than half of the findings by Schwartz and Blumstein (Schwartz and Blumstein 1983, 27).

Loulan’s 1987 study revealed remarkably similar findings to the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey. Twelve percent of women in both samples report having no sex. Loulan categorized sexual frequency as “once or fewer times” (presumably per month) and “two to five times a month,” which compare closely to the fifty-three percent of lesbians in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey who reported having sex up to one or two times per month (Figure 7). Twenty percent of lesbians reported having sex six to ten times a month in Loulan’s survey, compared to twenty-six percent of lesbians in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction study who reported having sex one to two times weekly. Those reporting sexual activity three or more times a week in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction Survey comprise eight percent of the sample, and for Loulan’s study, fourteen percent reported having sex “eleven or more times in a month.” The similarity in these findings is striking.

Figure 6.  General Overview of Lesbian Sexual Frequency

Figure 7.  Detailed Lesbian Sexual Frequency

 

Women aged twenty-one to thirty are the most sexually active of the lesbians in the Frequency vs. Satisfaction study, with forty-eight percent having sex once weekly or more (Table 9). A noticeable drop in sexual frequency does not begin until after age fifty. At fifty-one, there is a ten percent drop in weekly sexual frequency. Thirty-one percent of forty-one to fifty year olds report having weekly sex. This drops to twenty-one percent at age fifty-one and to fourteen percent at age sixty-one. According to the National Institute on Aging, the average age of menopause is fifty-one, which seems to be the strongest explanation for this drop. One of the common side effects reported about menopause is a decrease in libido. The Frequency vs. Satisfaction findings are also similar to the findings of Loulan (1987), where she reports a general decline in sexual frequency as women age, with the most notable drop in frequency occurring between the age group forty to forty-nine, and fifty to fifty-nine.

Table 9.  Sexual Frequency Based on Age of Lesbians

Age

Four or More
Times Per Week

One to Three
Times Per Week

Two to Three
Times Per Month

Once Monthly
or Less

Once weekly or more

< 21 Years (n=6)

17%

17%

33%

33%

34%

21-30 Years (n=50)

10%

38%

18%

34%

48%

31-40 Years (n=127)

6%

28%

20%

47%

34%

41-50 Years (n=169)

4%

27%

24%

44%

31%

51-60 Years (n=72)

6%

15%

17%

63%

21%

60 + Years (n=15)

7%

7%

13%

73%

14%

 

Percentages reflect sexual frequencies per age group

n=lesbians per age

 

To explore the desire for sex as thoroughly as possible, the Frequency vs. Satisfaction survey inquired with participants about the frequency of non-partner sex in the last six months. Question ten asks, “In the last six months, how many times did you have sex with someone other than your partner?” Of the 498 respondents, only forty-two (12%) reported having non-partner sex. The most non-partner sex occurs with couples who have been partnered between six and ten years, followed by women who are newly partnered up to six months (21%).

Of the forty-two women who report non-partner sex, thirty-nine responded to the question about whether or not their relationship is open or closed to outside sex. Of these thirty-nine who reported having sex outside their relationship in the last six months, thirteen are not currently partnered. This might suggest that thirteen (3%) of women pursued another relationship, or at least sex, and it may or may not have been the cause of their relationship break-up. Eight (2%) of the women who had non-partner sex report that they have agreements with their partner to engage in sex outside the relationship. Eighteen of the women (4%) reported no such agreement, so were likely engaged in acts of infidelity.

The incidence of non-partner sex with or without partner approval is nominal. These findings are lower than the incidence of non-partner sex found in 1983 by Schwartz and Blumstein. Ten percent of their sample of lesbians reported infidelity, compared to four percent of the Frequency vs. Satisfaction sample. Of those with an agreement about non-partner sex, twenty-five percent engaged in sex outside of their relationship.

There are two possibilities that may account for this decline in non-partner sex. One, the onset of AIDS occurred around the time Schwartz and Blumstein reported their findings, which would place participants of their survey at the tail end of the sexual liberation movement where sex was viewed less restrictively in our culture. This era put a damper on the sex lives of all couple pairs.

Another possibility is that during the 70s and 80s, lesbians were less visible than they are in today’s culture. With this visibility comes an increased level of validation and possibly accountability. A client who was in her prime dating years during the years of Schwartz and Blumstein’s study explained to this researcher that she had been unfaithful in every relationship from around age twenty to age forty. She stated that now that she is approaching sixty years old, she has come to see that she never valued her relationships, that she did not see lesbian relationships as important as heterosexual relationships. She shared that she had trouble conceiving that they would last in the same way that married couples believed their relationships would last. She explained that she feels differently now, that she has come to see her relationship as something that has meaning, and she experienced this only after coming out and having others (particularly heterosexuals) know about her relationship.

Once lesbians became more visible, it is possible they began to take their own relationships more seriously, which may have contributed to the decline in non-partner sex among those without agreements.

Figure 8.  Instances of Sex Outside the Relationship Among Lesbians

 

In summary, research largely supports the fact that lesbians are less sexual than other couple pairings. However, there is no evidence to support the belief that this translates into a deficiency, or that a lower frequency is in any way unhealthy. The assumption that heterosexuals are the healthy standard by which lesbians must be compared is a paradigm this researcher rejects. Some lesbians have a lot of sex. Some lesbians have none. Lesbians of all ages are sexual, and most are disinclined to stray sexually from their primary relationship. Lesbian sex does appear to continue at a rate similar to that found in 1987 by Loulan, though fewer lesbians appear to engage in non-partner sex than in previous years. Chapter Seven will shift attention to what is important to lesbians when it comes to their intimate relationships

 

 

 

Read Chapter Five

Read Chapter Seven

 

What is lesbian sex?

What is lesbian sex?

This is a dissertation by Michele O'Mara, PhD on the topic of Sexual Frequency and Relationship Satisfaction Among Lesbians.

CHAPTER FOUR

DEFINING, “What is LESBIAN SEX?

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” is a well-known phrase coined by former president Bill Clinton when he was accused of having sex with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. The American people eventually learned that his denial of sex was based on the fact that it was a cigar, not his penis, which he inserted in Miss Lewinsky’s vagina. Apparently, defining sex between a man and a woman is no easy task. Defining lesbian sex is more complicated. Logic suggests that it is best explained by those having it, therefore the research participants in this study were asked to identify what they consider to be sex. This chapter provides an overview of select publications that influenced the definition of sex in the last half century, and establishes the definition of what sex is to lesbians according to the participants who took this survey.

Influential Books About Lesbian Sex

Books that have been published over the last sixty years provide a glimpse at understanding “What is lesbian sex?” and how it was initially defined, and how it has evolved over time. Some of the books that influenced the definition of sex are publications of large scale research, such as Kinsey’s famous studies. Some of the books are how-to books that provide instruction for a woman seeking to have sex with another woman. Other books that have influenced the definition of sex between women approach the topic from a place of self-help, and emphasize sexual problems among lesbians. One of the books is a lesbian sex photo book by an artist who has greatly influenced the definition of sex through her illustrations.

The most influential book among these books is Sexual Behavior in The Human Female by Alfred Kinsey. This is the first serious inquiry into sexual behavior among lesbians on a large scale basis, and was published in 1953. Kinsey’s research is described as a fifteen-year study that “has been a fact-finding survey in which an attempt has been made to discover what people do sexually” (Kinsey 1953, 3). The majority of the research in his book is based on the case studies of 5,940 white females. Chapter eleven is titled “Homosexual Responses and Contacts,” and it offers an objective presentation of the facts as gathered from extensive, in-depth interviews of women about their sexual behavior. This resource is not a useful how-to book, or one that a curious lesbian would likely turn to as a resource for greater understanding about her own sexuality. It is an 842 page academic report that covers, in detail, a fifteen yearlong study of women’s sexuality.

In addition to establishing that lesbians do have sex, Kinsey presents a non-pathologizing perspective on sexual behaviors between women, particularly for a period of time that was not accepting of same-sex relationships. Kinsey provides affirming observations about same-sex activity, as he asserts that “Homosexual contacts between females have been observed in such widely separated species as rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, porcupines, marten, cattle, antelope, goats, horses, pigs, lions, sheep, monkeys and chimpanzees” (Kinsey 1953, 449).

Kinsey further validates the experience of sex between lesbians by pointing out that “Psychologists and psychiatrists, reflecting the mores of the culture in which they have been raised, have spent a good deal of time trying to explain the origins of homosexual activity; but considering the physiology of sexual response and the mammalian backgrounds of human behavior, it is not so difficult to explain why a human animal does a particular thing sexually. It is more difficult to explain why each and every individual is not involved in every type of sexual activity” (1953, 451).

In 1975, the first self-published guide for lesbians about sex written by and for lesbians was produced by the Nomadic Sisters. The book is forty-five pages, includes illustrations, how-to information, and it is titled Loving Women. This book was the first lesbian sex guide published in the United States and it is not surprising that it coincided with a time when the feminist movement was gaining momentum. This era was marked by the actions of courageous women who were willing to take greater risks to further the social acceptance of lesbians. The Nomadic Sisters were on the cutting edge in 1975, and with this publication, they successfully paved a new path for other authors to begin publishing about sex and lesbians.

Jochild explains that there were hundreds of publications during this era thanks to newly-developed offset presses. The offset presses were a more affordable printing option, and gave lesbians access to printing without censorship from the male dominated presses. This, in turn, provided lesbian consumers greater access to books and journals. Many of these publications were personally handed from one woman to the next, creating unprecedented outreach of these written words (2008).

In the next relevant, large-scale study published, Shere Hite reveals the results of original research she conducted in the early 70s on the self-report of 3,019 women who completed her questionnaire on female sexuality. The results were published in Hite’s book called The Hite Report on Female Sexuality in 1976. Hite’s research was instrumental in changing cultural attitudes about women’s sexuality in general, and her book has had popular appeal with “more than 48 million copies sold worldwide,” according to the cover of her 2004 edition. In Hite’s updated version of the book, she states in her introduction that this report “was the first to state the case for a fundamental redefinition of sex, based on equality” (2004, 11).

Though lesbians were simply one of many voices represented in this survey, Hite dedicated an entire section to the topic of lesbianism, which spanned twenty-one pages. More important is Hite’s perspective on homosexual behavior, which is clearly stated as “Homosexuality, or the desire to be physically intimate with someone of one’s own sex at some time, or always, during one’s life, can be considered a natural and ‘normal’ variety of life experience. It is ‘abnormal’ only when you posit as ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ only an interest in reproductive sex. Discussions of why one becomes heterosexual would come to the same non-conclusions. To consider all non-reproductive sexual contact ‘an error of nature’ is a very narrow view” (2004, 313).

Authors Bertha Harris and Emily Sisley published The Joy of Lesbian Sex in 1977. Ground breaking for its time, this how-to guide for sex between women included graphic illustrations of and instruction for how to have sex if you are a  lesbian. Their book about sex for lesbians placed a strong emphasis on the achievement of orgasm. This book is no longer in print, and cannot be easily accessed by women in search of a useful sex manual.

In 1980 a book titled Sapphistry : The Book of Lesbian Sexuality by Pat Califia was published. This marks the inception of the lesbian self-help sex book. With chapters titled The Erotic Imagination, Self-Loving, Partners, Communication, Common Sexual Concerns, Youth, Age and Sex, Disabled Lesbians, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and more, this book covers a lot of ground. The author states, “Nobody assumes you should ‘intuitively’ know how to cook or ‘automatically’ know how to build a shelter. Sex is the only skill we are expected to possess without receiving any instruction” (Califia 1993, 45). Rather than giving readers instruction, Califia provides a general overview of a variety of issues, including specific sexual behaviors.

The first edition of Califia’s book contained artwork by Tee Corinne, a lesbian artist who is credited with being “interested in loving, beautiful, sexy images” (Wilton 2002, 1). Corinne explains about her photos, “I also want the images to be a turn on, create an adrenaline high, a rush of desire so intense that the act of looking is sexual” (Wilton 2002, 1). Corinne also illustrated the first book of lesbian erotic photographs ever published in Yantras of Womanlove (1982).

Tee Corinne was considered one of the most visible and accessible lesbian artists in the world, according to the Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. The website 5magzxine.wordpress.com refers to her as the “shy superstar of erotica.” Through art, not words, Corrine made a significant contribution to the emerging understanding of lesbian sex by giving lesbians a visual language that celebrates the sexuality of lesbians.

The 80s served as a pivotal turning point for lesbians, affecting how their sex lives are viewed both publicly and privately. This cultural shift in perception of sexuality between women was based on the work of Phillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, who co-authored an extensive, large-scale study of four types of couple dyads: heterosexual married couples, heterosexual cohabitating couples, gay male couples, and lesbian couples. Their research was initiated in 1975, and involved the analysis of thousands of questionnaires collected from men and women. They also selected 300 couples for intensive interviewing, of which ninety were lesbian couples.

This research reported that lesbians are the least sexually active of the four couple dyads, and that lesbians experience the greatest decline in sexual activity over the course of their relationships. From this research came the cultural stigma of “lesbian bed death,” a phrase used to describe the low frequency of sexual activity between women. This is a concept that will be expanded upon further in later chapters.

Lesbian Sex is another well known book of lesbian import, written during the 80’s by Joann Loulan. This is a great primer on both “how to” and intimacy, and it functions as a useful reference book for lesbians seeking understanding for a variety of sexual concerns. Only one chapter in her book is dedicated to the actual sexual activities between women, and is titled “What We Do in Bed.” This fourteen page chapter highlights the sexual behaviors in which lesbians engage without going into much detail about any one of the behaviors.

Loulan’s book reads like a trouble-shooting sex manual for lesbians, and is classified by this researcher as self-help. If a lesbian is non-orgasmic, struggling with coming out, concerned about aging, addiction, or losing desire, there are chapters included to address these and other concerns. Loulan includes numerous exercises to help women relax, increase their enjoyment, and address specific concerns such as vaginismus.

By the 90s the AIDS epidemic was in full-swing, casting a sobering effect on how people think about sex in general. This seems to have stinted the development of books for women having sex with each other during the 90’s, as there were only two noteworthy books on the topic published during this decade. Wendy Caster published The Lesbian Sex Book in 1993 which, unlike some of the earlier books, was later updated in 2004 and is still in print. It reads very much like a reference book, and is alphabetically arranged by topics ranging from “afterplay” to “weight” with a wide variety of topics in between.

In 1997, Jeannie Shaw and Virginia Erhardt published a self-help book designed to help couples deepen their sexual connection through various guided exercises, including an assessment of their sexual attitudes, comfort zones, and other topics that allow couples to begin repairing their sexual connection. In 1998, the same book titled Journey Toward Intimacy: A Handbook for Lesbian Couples came out under the sole name of Jeannie Shaw.

The turn of the century brought new and more graphic attention to sexual behaviors between women. In 2004, Felice Newman published The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us.  This focused specifically on the physical component of sexual relationships, and is inclusive of sexual behaviors that were not considered acceptable in earlier publications. For example, chapter five in Cage’s book is titled “Dyke Dick: Strapping, Packing, Sucking, Fucking” (2004). This is in contrast to Califia’s comment in the 1980’s that “Dildos are probably the most taboo sex toys a lesbian could consider using. Relatively few lesbians have even seen a dildo” (Califia 1988, 51). Also in 2004, Diana Cage edited a book titled On Our Backs Guide.

Women Loving Women: Appreciating and Exploring the Beauty of Erotic Female Encounters by Jamye Waxman is another book with how-to visuals for women loving women that came out in 2007. Though it appears at first glance to be a photo book, it does offer suggestions and strategies for women loving women. The author includes heterosexual women in her audience, as well. Three women are photographed in various sexual situations. Sometimes two women are pictured at a time, and sometimes all three. Though the women are nude throughout most of the book, the photos do not include graphic genital exposure. This book offers a sensual journey through the erotic exploration of loving women, and balances art with instruction. This is a book that would be of help to a novice lesbian seeking guidance for the topic of women pleasing women.

Lesbian Sex: 101 Lovemaking Positions is another lesbian-specific sex book. It was published in 2008 by Jude Schell, and its title explains well what you can expect to find in this resource. It is a photo book which offers a pictorial and written explanation for the various lovemaking positions.  It seems to this researcher that the market for lesbian erotica is greater than the market for concrete information about sexual information for lesbians. Interestingly, if you search for information about sexual positions for lesbians on amazon.com, the largest current online bookseller, the results list shows eighty-six titles, though most of them are unrelated to the actual topic of sexual positions between women. It appears that only two of the books listed include various sexual positions for lesbians. If you do the same search for simply “sex positions” without including the word “lesbian,” there are 7, 149 titles returned. When it comes to a query for titles on “lesbian erotica,” however, close to 5,000 options are available.  What is unclear, however, is whether or not the audience for this erotica is primarily men, heterosexual women, lesbians, or a combination of all of three.

In 2010, Dr. Glenda Corwin wrote Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same-Sex Couples. As stated on the back cover, this book helps “female couples examine the emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of their relationships with the goal of creating more intimacy” (Corwin 2010). Like Loulan, Corwin is a therapist, and her book serves to similarly offer solutions and new perspectives on commonly cited issues such as desire discrepancy, body image and weight concerns, sexual abuse and trauma histories, the impact of age and hormonal changes, issues with fidelity, and the pressures of parenthood.

Sexual intimacy for women is broken into three sections. A quick page count of the three different sections reveals that six percent of the book is related to “just the facts: women, sex, and desire” (Corwin 2010, 6). Forty-three percent of the book involves discussion of “common stumbling blocks to intimacy” (43). Twenty-four percent of the book is dedicated to “secrets to longlasting intimacy” (169). It is interesting to note the disproportionate emphasis on obstacles and issues when it comes to women having sex in this and other self-help books such as those of Loulan (1984), Califia (1988), and Shaw (1998).

Most recently, Jude Schell published a third book titled Her Sweet Spot. This sex guide was published in 2011, and is designed to help lovers explore one another sexually with particular attention to the senses. The author encourages and guides the reader to actively engage in a whole-body exploration of the senses in search of her partner’s erogenous zones. This is meant to help lesbian partners achieve greater pleasure and understanding in matters of sex.

In summary, there are very few written resources that support lesbians’ understanding of their sexual behavior with one another. While there are numerous books on lesbian erotica, and a growing catalogue of videos that include lesbian-themed sexual relationships, the availability of practical, useful, and non-sensationalized, or dramatized information about sex for lesbians did not begin to gain momentum until the turn of the century.

An accounting of books that influenced the definition of sex between women underscores the paucity of information that is available to lesbians about sex. It stands to reason that a definition for sex between women would be equally lacking, and that lesbians may not share the same definition. Despite the slight increase in attention given to sex between women in the last ten years, as of yet there has been no unified, contemporary definition put forth. Heterosexuals have suffered from an overly restrictive vision of sex, namely that sex must involve penile penetration of the vagina while assuming missionary position. This narrow definition of sex has led a significant population of heterosexuals to lament the lack of diversity in their sex lives. For the purposes of this study, developing a definition of sex between women is necessary in order to understand what women are reporting when they answer questions that refer to sex.

Defining Lesbian Sex

As Califia points out in Saphistry, “sex is a learned process, not something that just comes naturally” (1988, ix). It makes sense that the generation in which a lesbian is born may influence how she defines sex. The changing definition of sex for lesbians is demonstrated by an evolution of how the topic has been addressed in books throughout the years. According to Kinsey, the “Techniques in Homosexual Contacts” as he referred to sex between women, “often depended on little more than simple lip kissing and generalized body contacts” (1953, 466).

Table  4.  List of Books about Lesbian Sex

1st Edition (Latest Edition)

Title

Author

Type

1953Sexual Behavior in the Human FemaleAlfred Kinsey

Research

1972Loving WomenNomadic Sisters

Sex Guide

1976The Joy of Lesbian SexBertha Harris and Emily Sisley

Sex Guide

1976 (2004)The Hite Report on Female SexualityShere Hite

Research

1980 (1988)Sapphistry : The Book of Lesbian SexualityPat Califa

Self-Help

1982Yantras of WomanloveTee Corinne

Photobook

1983American CouplesPhillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz

Research

1984Lesbian SexJoann Loulan

Self-Help

1993 (2003)The Lesbian Sex BookWendy Caster

Sex Guide

1997 (1998)Journey Toward Intimacy: A Handbook for Lesbian CouplesVirginia Erhardt Ph.D. and
(Jeanne Shaw only author in 1998)

Self-Help

2002Lesbian Sex Tips:  A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Bring Pleasure to the Woman She (or He) LovesTracey Stevens / Katherine Wunder

Sex Guide

2003True Secrets of Lesbian Desire:  Keeping Sex Alive in Long-Term RelationshipsRenate Stendhal

Self-Help

2004Tantric Sex for Women:  A Guide for Lesbian,
Bi, Hetero, and Solo Lovers
Christa Schulte

Sex Guide

2004The Whole Lesbian Sex Book:  A Passionate Guide for All of UsFelice Newman

Sex Guide

2004On Our Backs Guide to Lesbian SexDiana Cage, Editor

Sex Guide

2005 (2008)Lesbian Sex:  101 Lovemaking PositionsJude Schell

Sex Guide

2007Women Loving Women:  Appreciating and Exploring the Beauty of Erotic Female EncountersJamye Waxman

Sex Guide

2010Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for
Same-Sex Couples
Glenda Corwin

Self-Help

2011Her Sweet SpotJude Schell

Sex Guide

 

 

 

In their book Lesbian Women, Martin and Lyon state, “The three most common techniques used in lesbian lovemaking are mutual masturbation, cunnilingus and tribadism” (1972, 54). They also provide a general description of what these behaviors include. For example, mutual masturbation is described by them as “manipulation of the clitoris, caressing the labia, and/or penetration of the vagina by the fingers until sexual excitation or orgasm occurs” (Martin and Lyon 1972, 54). Consistent with much of the writing about sex during this generation, there is an emphasis on orgasm as the end goal.

As the voice of sex for lesbian in the 80s, JoAnn Loulan states that “lesbian sex is anything two lesbians do together” (1984, 47). Loulan shares the belief that lesbians tended to limit their definitions of sex to finger-vagina, or tongue-clitoris, interaction and then it only qualifies if accompanied by an orgasm. She suggests that lesbian sex has been too narrowly defined, and that behaviors as simple as hugging, kissing, caressing, holding hands, or putting our arms around each other can also be very sexual (1984).

In 2010, The Kinsey Institute conducted a study to determine how 204 male and 282 female adults conceptualize having “had sex.” What they discovered is that forty-five percent of their sample classified manual-genital stimulation (finger sex) to be having sex. They also discovered that seventy-one percent of their sample considered oral sex to be sex. Lastly, eighty percent of their sample confirmed that anal-genital intercourse is included in their definition of sex (Sanders et al, 2010). There was no distinction made for the sexual orientation of their survey respondents.

For the purposes of this research, it has been important to establish how the survey respondents define sex in order to establish a shared language about what is being discussed when the concept, word, or behavior called “lesbian sex” is mentioned throughout this paper. A review of survey responses to question number one will provide the necessary insight about how contemporary lesbians define sex.

Question one on the survey is “I believe I am having lesbian sex if I engage in the following behaviors with another woman…” followed by a series of sexual activities from which to choose. The survey participants were allowed to check all of the following options they considered to be sex: hugging/kissing, sensual body massage (non-genital), humping/ tribadism (moving your body against hers, with or without clothes on, for sexual pleasure), breast stimulation, vaginal penetration (finger, fist, dildo, vibrator, etc.), clitoral stimulation, oral sex, anal sex, S/M or bondage, only activities which result in an orgasm, and any activity that produces sexual pleasure, with or without orgasm.

Based on the survey results of this study, eighty-five percent or more of all lesbians surveyed believe lesbian sex includes one of the following: oral sex, vaginal penetration, or clitoral stimulation. An orgasm is not necessary for the majority of respondents to qualify a behavior as sex. Only eleven percent of survey participants indicate that it is necessary to have an orgasm for a behavior to be considered sex.

When the age of survey participants (Table 5) is compared to how they define sex, the results are very similar. Eighty-percent or more of all ages represented in the survey believe oral, vaginal, or clitoral stimulation is lesbian sex. This is also true when the length of relationship (Table 6) is compared to how they define sex. Therefore, age and length of relationship do not materially affect how lesbians define the top three behaviors considered to be sex.

There is a slight gap between the perceptions of younger survey participants (ages 18-20) and older participants (over 60) about clitoral stimulation. Only eighty percent of the younger participants perceive clitoral stimulation to be sex and 100% of the women over sixty perceive it as sex. This supports the idea that the definition of lesbian sex is influenced by the generation in which a lesbian is born. The small sample size for these age groups may affect the validity of these findings. There are only seven lesbians in the survey who are eighteen to twenty, and only eighteen lesbians who are over sixty years old.

There is a similar gap in perceptions of lesbian sex among women with varying lengths of relationship. Ninety-four percent of women who have been in their relationship eleven months or less, as well as those in their relationships twenty-one or more years, believe vaginal penetration is sex. Only eighty-percent of women who have been partnered between eleven and twenty years consider vaginal penetration to be lesbian sex. Though these are not wide margins of difference, they do provide insight about how age and length of relationship may have a subtle influence on perceptions of sex.

Sixty to sixty-five percent of women taking the survey also expanded the definition of lesbian sex to include anything that produces sexual pleasure, humping (also known as tribadism), and anal sex. In the 70s, tribadism was one of the top three sexual behaviors of lesbians as noted by authors Martin and Lyon (1972). Today only sixty-one percent of lesbians consider this to be sex.

There seems to have been a dramatic change in the last few decades in how lesbians perceive sex. In 1987, Loulan’s research on this topic concluded that over ninety percent of lesbians in her sample included hugging, cuddling, and kissing as sexual activities (1987). Today only twenty-one percent of survey respondents in this research consider kissing and hugging to be sex. This change can be observed by the differences in responses by younger survey participants and older survey participants. None of the women aged eighteen to twenty perceive breast stimulation, sensual massage, or hugging and kissing to be sex. Forty-four percent of women over sixty consider both sensual massage and hugging and kissing to be sex. Sixty-seven percent of women over sixty consider breast stimulation to be sex.

A look at how lesbians view breast stimulation (Table 9) offers a good perspective on how age impacts the definition of sex. As mentioned above, none of the seven women aged eighteen to twenty years old consider breast stimulation to be sex. Increasing the age range by one decade at a time significantly increases the percentage of women who consider breast stimulation to be sex. For example, twenty-three percent of twenty-one to thirty year olds believe breast stimulation is sex. Sixty-seven percent of women over sixty believe that breast stimulation is sex. This is a sixty-seven percent increase in the definition of breast stimulation as sex between the eighteen year old respondents and the over sixty year old respondents. The older the lesbian, the more comprehensive her definition of sex, with the exception of anal stimulation and SM/bondage. The number of older women in the survey who consider anal sex and SM/bondage to be sex drops significantly.

In summary, lesbian sex for the purposes of this research is primarily considered to be one of three behaviors between women: oral sex, vaginal penetration, or clitoral stimulation. The older the respondent is, the more likely she is to include non-genitally focused activities in her definition of sex, and the younger the respondent is, the more likely she is to include anal stimulation in her definition of sex. The majority of lesbians of every age also agree that an orgasm is not a requirement when defining lesbian sex.

With a better understanding of the historical and current definition of lesbian sex by lesbians, it is time to look at the sexual behaviors in which lesbians are currently participating. Included in the next chapter are the following topics: an exploration of the regularly used sexual techniques of lesbians, a closer look at masturbation among lesbians, the frequency and quantity of orgasms, the time spent engaged in sexual encounters between women, and the frequency with which lesbians are engaging in sex outside of their relationship.

Figure 1.  Defining Lesbian Sex

 

what is lesbian sex

 

Table 5.  Lesbian Sex Defined According to Age of Lesbian

Activities Considered Sex

18-20

n=7

21-30

n=56

31-40

n=131

41-50

n=182

51-60

n=77

Over 60

n=18

Average Perceptions of Lesbian Sex

Oral stimulation

100%

89%

88%

91%

87%

94%

92%

Vaginal penetration

86%

89%

89%

91%

86%

94%

89%

Clitoral stimulation

86%

80%

82%

89%

86%

100%

87%

Anal stimulation

86%

57%

61%

63%

57%

44%

61%

Tribadism / humping

57%

54%

60%

65%

62%

67%

61%

Causes sexual pleasure

29%

63%

60%

69%

74%

61%

59%

Breast stimulation

0%

23%

31%

52%

64%

67%

40%

S/M

43%

29%

26%

30%

34%

11%

29%

Massage

0%

9%

14%

23%

34%

44%

21%

Hug or kiss

0%

7%

15%

22%

36%

44%

21%

Ends in orgasm

0%

20%

11%

9%

10%

6%

9%

 

Percentage within age group that considers this activity to be sex

n=number of women responding to question per age group

 

 

 Length of Relationship

Vaginal Penetration

Oral Stimulation

Clitoris Stimulation

Tribadism/
Humping

Produces Sexual Pleasure

Anal Sex

Breast Stimulation

Hug/Kiss

Massage

S/M or Bondage

Ends in Orgasm

Less than 6 months (n=47)

94%

92%

94%

72%

66%

57%

49%

23%

30%

23%

9%

6 to 11 months (n=51)

94%

92%

90%

73%

65%

65%

55%

20%

22%

29%

8%

1 to 2 years (n=89)

89%

90%

82%

52%

72%

64%

36%

17%

16%

32%

7%

3 to 5 years (n=126)

87%

87%

83%

56%

60%

60%

37%

14%

18%

31%

15%

6 to 10 years (n=97)

91%

91%

91%

63%

62%

61%

47%

22%

21%

22%

10%

11 to 20 years (n=61)

80%

85%

75%

64%

79%

51%

51%

31%

30%

30%

13%

21 or more years (n=18)

94%

94%

100%

67%

61%

61%

56%

44%

33%

22%

6%

Average perceptions of lesbian sex

90%

90%

88%

64%

66%

60%

47%

24%

24%

27%

10%

 

Percentage of women who perceive these activities to be sex

Read Chapter Three

Read Chapter Five

  Chapter 
X