It goes like this: Second base is all hands with the guy making his way up the girl's shirt. Third base is oral and a home run is well, doing the deed.
Using a sports metaphor to measure sexual progress might make things easy for teens, particularly boys looking to impress peers with how "far" they got with the girl next door. And hey, it is America's pastime.
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But the need to measure sexual progress is itself a troubling impulse, one that reflects the misguided way we approach sex as an intimate act. The goal is to "score": With sex quickly becoming the goal in and of itself, young people can feel the need to lose their virginity because everyone else is — and perhaps jump into bed before they're ready or truly want to.
When sexual exploration becomes goal-oriented, satisfaction becomes secondary, and we risk missing out on the various kinds of emotional and physical satisfaction sex offers. If you're not taking pleasure in the journey — or at least indulging some curiosity — then why keep going?
What is the definition of bases in dating intercourse as the goal inherently means ranking other sexual acts as less intimate, which ignores the complexities of our desires and comfort zones. In a rush to pass the specifically spelled-out bases, foreplay isn't even a priority — first base isn't something to brag about to your "bros.
Moreover, the acts between first base and home can be extremely intimate, perhaps more so than sex. This is especially key for women, who are more likely to orgasm when oral sex is involved. Many have said that letting a man go down on her feels "intimate and emotional and thus more desirable in a relationship," not something to be shared with just a fling.
Ultimately, the ranking ends up disregarding the ways women experience sex and orgasm, focusing the system inherently on male pleasure. Within this "base system," sex is only sex when it is P-in-V — you're just building up until you score a penetrative home run.
But sex is more than that. Making penetration sex the goal is essentially framing the game around the heterosexual male experience of pleasure.
That focus on "real" sex not only ignores the intricacies of female pleasure; the base system also disregards the queer experience of gays, lesbians, asexual people and other sexual minorities.
That is kind of ridiculous and contributes to that black-and-white idea of what sexuality is.
In reality, we're all playing a different game: Sex is personal, and the experience varies. But when it becomes goal-oriented, the individual experience is erased, replaced by a checklist that treats intimate interactions as items to be checked off.
Like an aging MLB player, it's time to retire the system. Related stories by this author.
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