Is Scissoring A Thing?


Jenny Guerin is one of the lovely sex writers we met at Eroticon this year, so when she offered to write this piece answering one of queer life’s eternal questions, we jumped at the chance. Jenny is a sex writer and ethical porn advocate from London. You can read more on her website.


“As I go about my day-to-day business as a queer woman I encounter many questions about my sexuality:

How do you know you’re a lesbian?

Have you given up on men?

Do you know my friend Heather?

Sometimes my professional duties require me to field questions about lesbian sex, which I am more than happy to do:

What do you do?

Do you use a strap-on?

How do you know when it’s finished?

I have a well researched and informative answer for each question that comes my way – my pro tips are to keep fingernails short, communication open and orgasms plentiful.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I encounter a question that I honestly struggle to answer. The main question that leaves me slightly on the back foot is:

Is scissoring a thing?

I’ve yet to come up with a response that fully expresses my own opinion, let alone a definitive answer.

The lesbian community, and indeed the wider world, is somewhat divided on this matter. French film Blue Is The Warmest Colour, released in 2103, showed copious amounts of scissoring and was condemned by some as completely unrealistic. Pornography shows that it can be done – but pornography shows a lot of strange and unachievable spectacles, so how can we be sure?

What is scissoring and is it a thing?

Scissoring is a sexual act where two women (or people with vulvas) spread their legs in order to bring their vulvas close together. They can then rub their clitorises together which can bring pleasure. The image of the spread legs resembles an opened pair of scissors, hence the name.

That’s a pretty unsexy description so please let me elaborate further with some personal testimony.

I believe scissoring is a thing. It can be done, it feels great and I thoroughly enjoy it. A lot of lesbian sex, like other kinds of sex, involves a lot of turn-taking or multitasking. I like scissoring because both partners are giving and receiving similar pleasure with your genitals and this leaves your hands and mouths free to touch, tease or perhaps kiss if you’re feeling particularly flexible.

(Plus it feels messy and everything is really sensitive and its just lovely.)

However, just because I have enjoyed scissoring in the past does not mean I’ve done it with every partner. Some women don’t see the point, some don’t enjoy it, it doesn’t do anything for them. They might also not feel that flexible, or can’t arrange their bodies in the way that would make scissoring possible. Some might feel that because they don’t like it, scissoring isn’t a real thing.

An expert says…

I interviewed Sinn Sage, who has been performing in adult films for 14 years. I first saw her films when I was an amateur-status lesbian, googling ‘scissoring’ and wondering what it was. Watching Sage perform, I wanted to try scissoring for myself – it was the first time I had watched porn and seen some sort of sincere enjoyment on the faces of the women.

Sage’s work often features scissoring, but she prefers the term tribbing:

“When people say scissoring, to me they are talking about two girls who aren’t even looking at each other, heads totally on opposite ends of the bed, just going through the motions and it seems like its all for show,” she explains to me. “Tribbing means grasping each other bodies, grinding into each other, actually making sure our clits are rubbing, looking into each other’s eyes, kissing – to me its more real and representative of actual lesbianism.”

So despite the use of word, Sage’s description of tribbing is what I’ve often referred to as scissoring, and it sounds hot, right? Her dislike of the word may be borne of her experiences in the porn industry:

“Scissoring just sounds like an act that’s done in videos for the male gaze. I always hate when a producer or director says ‘lets have some scissoring’ – it really makes me grit my teeth.”

In deference to Sinn Sage, I’ll be using both terms scissoring/tribbing. I asked her what does this act mean to her?

“For me, personally, it means lots of different things; I think its one of the most intimate things two women can do together as lovers. Its a beautiful sexual act because it allows for eye contact through the entire act, but without the need to bring in a toy or a strap on – which some women prefer to leave out of sex.”

Its also something that has brought Sage a lot of popularity as an adult performer:

“I think because I do it with such an intensity or intimacy, that other women enjoy fantasising about having the experience, regardless of the gender of their partner.”

“Fulfilling sex isn’t always something prescribed, like ‘lesbian sex means oral’ or ‘straight sex means penis in vagina’.”

I asked her why people might dismiss scissoring/tribbing as a sex act? I’ve found that my partners have often dismissed this as something to do in bed, which I struggle with because I think its amazing!

“There are plenty of people who don’t understand that intimate and fulfilling sexual experiences don’t always mean something prescribed like ‘ lesbian sex means oral’ or ‘straight sex means penis in vagina’,” Sage explains. “Fulfilling sex is whatever it takes for people to feel like they’ve had a fun and satisfying experience with each other, period. Its nobody’s business what that act may be, or for them to judge whether or not someone else is having a genuinely good time doing it.”

I couldn’t agree more. Maybe Sinn Sage and I are biased – we both enjoy scissoring/tribbing because of positive experiences we have had. But to hear that the act is being dismissed completely is not helpful and limits the expectations of what sex can between two women can be.

So whether its for you or not, scissoring/tribbing does exist. Maybe a sensible answer to the aforementioned question should be ‘yes scissoring is a thing, but it isn’t everybody’s thing’.”

 

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