Scissoring has garnered quite a bit of attention in the spotlight recently: Poussey tried (and dismissed) it with her German girlfriend in “Orange is the New Black,” two young lovers participated in the French romance “Blue is the Warmest Color” and the subject even came up on “Glee.”

The most popularized form of tribadism (grinding the vulva on some surface for sexual pleasure), scissoring is exactly what it sounds like: Two vulvas in contact with one another, notched together like two pairs of scissors. Anyone with the proper equipment can participate — including trans and nonbinary partners with vulvas.

But scissoring is often painted as a primarily lesbian act. The truth is that anyone who wants to give scissoring the old college try can and should. The scissoring police will not come knocking down the door.  

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Rock, Paper, Stereotype

Heteronormativity combined with neglecting opinions from actual queer folks has resulted in the widespread belief that scissoring is the only kind of sex that lesbians have. This misconception has been reinforced by lesbian pornography, a category on most porn sites that has just about as much to do with lesbian sex as bacon has to do with veganism.

“Lesbian” pornography is almost always constructed for the heterosexual male gaze, and scissoring plays a frequent role in these films. The problem lies not in including scissoring, but in depicting the activity as the only thing people with vulvas engage in when having sex with one another. While many people enjoy scissoring or prefer it, others find it exhausting and not worth the considerable physical effort to eventually find that perfect angle.

Does Scissoring Make the Cut?

Despite spirited debate in the lesbian community regarding the prevalence and pleasure of scissoring, many folks incorporate the activity into their sex lives. Though people with vulvas participate in a wide range of sexual activities besides scissoring — oral sex, penetration using toys or fingers, anal play and more — by no means does that mean scissoring suddenly stops being an option.

The pursuit of pleasure is varied and infinite, and partners do not necessarily participate in the exact same sex every time. Exploration is fun, and scissoring is one of the better ways to become intimate with a partner. Like any other sexual activity, scissoring is not for everyone. As always, be careful not to make assumptions about preferences based on someone’s sexual orientation or body parts.

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Importantly, one should probably stretch before scissoring. All that hip action means the hip flexors are working hard, so maybe do some hip-opening stretches. Pilates works well. In addition, consider whether to lubricate or not. While some folks find extra lube makes everything delightfully slippery, others mourn the loss of friction. Try it both ways and see which one works, and remember not to use flavored lubricant on those orifices, since it can cause yeast infections.

A note on positioning: People frequently assume scissoring really only offers one option for positions. But there are actually several that work well depending on physical ability and flexibility.

The classic position is achieved with one person lying on their side and the other on their back. Other positions for scissoring might mean one person lies down and the other straddles them with all the proper genital contact.

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Particularly acrobatic folks might want to try scissoring with both partners sitting upright, allowing for eye contact. Though scissoring offers varied positions, it simply might not work for some bodies. The angle or positioning might just not work out, however, a little creativity and adjusting can go a long way.  

That being said, sometimes it takes time for everyone to figure out how to position the body to provide adequate clitoral contact. This process can be awkward, sweaty or challenging, but it can also create some truly beautiful intimacy.

Scissoring is a vulnerable act, exposing everything and requiring plenty of mutual trust. Consider adding a vibrator. Using a Hitachi magic wand or another powerful toy means that both parties can feel the sensations through contact, intensifying the experience for everyone.

Sandwiching a small vibrator between partners also works wonders. Double-ended dildos are also a great option for folks looking for the dynamic duo of scissoring plus penetration, and dildos can also be strapped to the thigh to achieve a similarly pleasurable effect.