Sex Needs A New Metaphor (VIDEO)

September 3, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller

“If you talk to someone today in America about sexual activity, you’ll find pretty soon you’re not just talking about sexual activity. You’re also talking about baseball, because baseball is the dominant cultural metaphor Americans use to think about and talk about sexual activity.”

In this TED talk, sexuality educator Al Vernacchio argues that Americans need a new metaphor when talking about sex. Vernacchio claims that, all too often, we talk about our sex lives like a game of baseball. This baseball metaphor is used to describe everything from sexual roles/positions (are you a pitcher, catcher, or switch-hitter?) to what happened during a given encounter (which “base” did you get to?) to the outcome of the event (was it a strike-out or a score?). Vernacchio believes that this metaphor makes it difficult to have healthy discussions about sexuality because it frames sex as a competition, where there is necessarily a winner and a loser, and also because it implies that sex necessarily follows a predictable sequence of events each time (i.e., there’s only one “correct” way to play the game). So how should we talk about sex instead? Vernacchio suggests that we think about sex like we’re sharing a pizza. Why pizza of all things? Check out the video below to learn more.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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