Penetration Nation

Sometimes I looked at penetration with extreme loathing. When I started to develop a love with outercourse which I adored but which my partner criticised as “Not being as good as actually being inside of you” I would often think of penetration with bitter resentment. Why must I try to work through pain and endure an action that wasn’t even as pleasurable for me when pleasure could be achieved without it?

Other times I longed for it on a very personal level and felt defined by my lack of being able to achieve it. I wanted it but I couldn’t have it, no matter how much I seemed personally willing. That was frustrating.

Then, of course, there was the moment of first successful penetration, which will always be one of those life-defining moments. In a now very apt approach to the whole affair, my journey in to penetration was less of a classic sprint and more of a marathon, but when I got to that goal point I burst in to tears (my partner’s shaft still in me and all).

Penetration is still a complex part of my life now but in a very different way. 

I have been penetrated many times by my now ex partner as well as having penetrated him and others. This has been achieved through shafts, fingers, tongues and more, though some of the items were less wise than others (chocolate icing = a big no-no). I have also tested many products which I penetrate myself with and that can sometimes feel like a blasé action – all part of a day’s work, as it were. But there are still moments where I’m climbing the walls or where a self love session isn’t complete unless I can feel the hugging or clinging sensation of something deep inside of me.

What is it about penetration?

I mean, it’s fair to say that penetration is seen as one of the iconic sexual actions. Most heteronormative individuals considering sex in a linear fashion with penetration being the pinnacle of a sex session. Many queer individuals employ strap-ons, fisting, butt plugs, or beads to penetrate their partner in some way. Fisting certainly has an iconic nature about it, as do butt plugs, and all of these items are ones of penetration.


This is the case even though most female-bodied individuals require some form of clitoral (ie. prevalently external) stimulation in order to reach a satisfying climax…or any climax at all, for that matter. Plus a focus on penetration alone doesn’t seem to acknowledge the true diversity of sexual exploration and sex acts – things such as impact play, sensation play, massage, external vibration, outercourse, wax play, and about a bajillion other actions that involve kinks, fetishes and BDSM. Oh and let’s not forget kissing, hugging – fundamental elements of most intimate acts. Oh, also hand jobs too.

The reason perhaps lies in the concept behind penetration which, like it or lump it, is a powerful one. 

Lookup penetration in various dictionaries and you’ll usually get a few variations of these same meanings:

  1. Sexual penetration (Obvi).
  2. To go in to depth or move through something (or someone).
  3. To understand or effectively comprehend something complex.

Our cultural and emotional desire to focus so strongly on penetration, therefore, might be less to do with just how pleasurable the act alone is and more about what it is often thought to symbolise.

If we are penetrating someone the insinuation is that we are not just physically entering them but also getting to know, understand, and appreciate them on a more complex (and perhaps valuable) level. Penetrating someone implies that we have gone beyond the superficial and are looking in to and gaining an appreciation for what might lie beneath – that or we desire to do so and to truly get to know that person.

This works even on the purely carnal level. I have often found myself lusting after someone and wanting them to penetrate me – not purely because of the act but more so because I want to know what they might feel like once they are inside of me. I want to gain a sense of how their shaft would rub against my internal walls. How the widening approach of their fingers and the style of their twist might make me act. Just what toys they might like to introduce to me, and what that says about their own desires.

In other words penetration is a conversation of depth (quite literally) performed in a physical exchange.


Then, of course, there is also the power play associated with penetration. To penetrate someone’s mind suggests that you have ascertained a level of understanding, capability, or privilege which allows you a position that others might not have. If someone has a ‘penetrating gaze’ they are often considered to be strong, assertive, and naturally attractive – they know what they want and through this approach to the visual exchange they have, in some ways, already claimed a level of engagement. Add to that words, which often penetrate us deeper than anything else – good or bad – and you can see where the power exchange comes fully in to display.

In all these examples penetration is ultimately about power really: Physical knowledge and positioning, or mental and emotional understanding. This is why, in the wrong circumstances, penetration can be such a scary thing…but it can also be amazing too. And, as with all things, the dividing factor comes down to consent and the level of intimacy and understanding between those involved.

Every time we agree to or engage in an act of penetration we are, in some regards, opening ourselves up: Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be understood, or even to be dominated. In the right circumstances these actions can be fundamental in forming a deeper bond and a trusting relationship with penetrates any fears, apprehensions, or barriers to intimacy and/or self happiness that we may have in place.

This is why, for some people, penetration will continue to be one of the most significant acts of love, trust, or bonding that exists, and likely why it continues to dominate most sex manuals to this very day.

Just don’t neglect any of the many other acts that exist out there and you might find that you foster an even more complex and developed idea of what penetration means to you and its place in your life.