One of my mentors, Stan Dale, the founder of the Human Awareness Institute (HAI), had a wonderful way of saying that "sex is more than 'wiggle, wiggle, pop.'" He'd focus on how the skin is the largest organ in the body, and sensuality is a whole body experience.
For whatever reason, our culture tends to place sex in a box--a heterosexual, penis-vagina penetrative, "success equals orgasm" box. Yet, sexuality is so much more than that. I always noticed the the letters "s," "e" and "x" in combination seemed like an abbreviation for something more, like "soul energy eXchange" or "spiritual energy eXchange." In sexuality there is the possibility for connection and expression at many levels: emotional, physical, spiritual, soulful and energetic, to name a few.
Our culture often forgets (or never thinks) to link the sexual with the spiritual, and "hard core pornography" with all its raw and graphic detail, makes no reference to the sacred, the intimate or the spiritual. It focuses on arousal, titillation, and "getting people off."
Mind you, the energy release of orgasm is pleasureable, wonderful and even transformational. When shared with a loving partner, it can be deeply bonding. In one's own personal sexual practice it can be a kind of sacred meditation. However, when orgasm, rather than being part of a whole landscape of sexual expression is the "sole goal," we can easily forget all the other dimensions of the sexual, sensual, spiritual landscape.
Touch, both emotionally-rooted and sensual, can be extremely relaxing and nourishing to the body and soul. It can be boxed as "foreplay" or celebrated as a "main course." Hugging, kissing, massaging, spooning, cuddling, placing a still, healing hand on a place of tension or pain, can all enrich the experience of connecting and expressing love and care.
Today, I was reading several blog posts and the Planned Parenthood definition of "outercourse," a term which has been coined in contrast to "intercourse," referring to "non-penetrative sexual contact." The Planned Parenthood website notes that "outercourse means different things to different people." To some, it means sex-play without vaginal intercourse. To others, it means sex-play without ANY penetration: oral, anal or vaginal.
There is a focus, with this term, on birth control, or as one blogger wrote, "abstinence without the sex-negative message." And it is harder to get pregnant without penis-vagina penetration (although if sperm cells are around, one must be careful where they travel). Some STD's are less likely to be transmitted if sexuality is limited to "outercourse."
While these concepts are all useful and interesting. And it's good to see a more sex-positive twist on a very old conversation, "intercourse" and "outercourse" still seem to focus on the box of "wiggle, wiggle, pop."
What if we could expand our language with words like "innerverse" and "outerverse," where when you go deep emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually, you explore the "innerverse," which can be connected with loving, nurturing, sensual touch involving any or all of the body's "outerverse?" Space-like terms almost conjure the mystical and the spiritual.
Somehow, I think we can continue to be creative in evolving a language that is more encompassing all the things that sex is and can be. And in doing so, perhaps we will grow and evolve in our ability to connect and express deeply.