Research by data analytics firm YouGov has found that nearly half of respondents don't believe oral sex counts as "having sex".
YouGov asked respondents whether a variety of sexual acts counted as having sex, from fingering to blow jobs. Hand jobs and fingering were generally not seen as counting as having sex, with 52 percent saying hand jobs didn't count vs 34 percent who said it did, and 48 percent saying fingering doesn't count vs 37 percent who did.
Cunnilingus (which YouGov alternatively described as "licking out" for their British respondents who haven't learned new sex terms since 1992) was seen as counting as sex by 44 percent of people, vs 40 percent who thought it didn't. Blow jobs were roughly the same, and were considered sex by 45 percent of respondents, while 41 percent thought they didn't.
Gay and bisexual men were much more likely to consider blow jobs as having sex (57 percent), while lesbian and bisexual women were also more likely to say cunnilingus counted as full sex (54 percent), a figure that baffled a fair few people when the results were released last week.
There was an interesting generational divide among the respondents according to YouGov, with people over 50 more likely to count oral sex and stimulation with hands and fingers as having sex. Forty-five percent of older respondents said that hand jobs do count as sex, vs only 23 percent of people aged 18-49, with similar figures for fingering and clitoral stimulation with fingers.
Oral sex performed on women was also more likely to be seen as having sex by older people, with 54 percent saying it counted, vs only 34 percent of under 50s saying the same.
While interesting in its own right, the findings have implications for how YouGov designs other sexuality surveys. Their current definition of sex is “sexual intercourse involving penetration, oral sex, or any other activity with another person typically culminating in orgasm”, which they note "may not be an adequate description", especially given that only around a third of women say that they orgasm every time they have sex.