Americans Strike Out on Defining Sex

Not really sure what counts as third base, what's home plate
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2009 12:01 PM CDT
What counts as cheating? "If you're a married guy, at the end of the day you shouldn't be dancing with somebody else," says Mark Sanford.   (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
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(Newser) – Bill Clinton said oral sex wasn’t sex. Mark Sanford says he “crossed lines” with women he wasn’t married to, but not “the sex line.” But that’s a really blurry line, the AP reports. “Nobody is really in charge of that term,” said one Kinsey Institute scientist. In one 1996 study, for example, 52% of men considered oral sex “real sex,” compared to 46% of women.

“General agreement regarding what constitutes having ‘had sex’ and how sexual partners are counted cannot be taken for granted,” researchers concluded. The term’s also a moving target, changing over time. In the 1960s, any touching below the waist was considered “third base,” according to one researcher. “Nowadays it seems that for many people the pattern of accepted activities includes oral sex as third base.”