A Better Metaphor for Sex

I recently had the pleasure of seeing sexuality educator Al Vernacchio speak at the Sex & Intimacy Summit in Salt Lake City.

Al wants to change the way we talk about sex in America, particularly with teenagers, starting by employing a new and better metaphor for sex. Shifting paradigms to a healthier, consent driven sexuality starts with language, so the metaphors we choose to employ can be powerful.

Currently the metaphor most Americans use to talk about sex is through baseball. The baseball as sex metaphor is so ubiquitous in American vernacular, I was surprised to hear how many examples there are. Of course, there’s “getting to first base” and “scoring”. But there’s also “pitcher,” “catcher” and “playing for the other team” to mention just a few of the less vulgar ones.

Using baseball as a sex metaphor is flawed, to say the least. Baseball is competitive; sex shouldn’t be. There’s no room for consent in the baseball metaphor. In fact, the whole framing of sex this way is male centric.

Where’s the woman in a baseball metaphor? She’s the field the game is played on.

Al Vernacchio’s alternative suggestion of a pizza metaphor is simple and elegant. Imagine if from an early age we thought about sex through a collaborative lens that invited communication and exploration instead of goal-oriented pursuit.  I wish I’d grown up in that world; it would have been a shorter road to happy sex.

To learn more from Al’s brief TED talk, click here.

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