Personal Question: What Does Sex Mean to You?

It’s a very personal question, really. And with the entrance of birth control, how people perceive sex and engage in sexual intercourse has shifted. This perception further shifted with the emergence of the Pussy Cat Dolls. We wanted to see what others think of this very personal, intimate topic. Because as this issue’s cover story argues, What’s so wrong with talking about sex as mature adults?

Click to view print version.

Click to view print version.

I walked up to a guy in the food court and asked, “What does sex mean to you?” Between chews he replied:

            “The first time I had sex isn’t half as good as this ham and cheese sandwich.” I didn’t ask for a bite, but I was definitely curious.

story by scottmcmanus

Location: Dining room table, my house

Time: December 17th, 9:15 p.m.

My dad is captivated as he plays Civilization IV on his new MacBook at the dining room table. A perfect opportunity to ask the old man the personal of all personal questions. Our dialogue was as follows:

Son: Dad… what does sex mean to you?

Dad: Huh?

Son: What does sex mean to you?

Dad: (Awkwardly looks up) Well, uh, that depends… there’s the kind between a couple, male or female. And it can be a physical act, love. (Long silence.)

Son: What do you mean?

Dad: You know what I mean. Beyond the whole physical act, there’s the emotion. The difference between snapping one off and being intimate with the one you love. (Long silence No. 2.)

Dad: It’s like the difference between a gas bar hamburger and an Alberta beefsteak, I guess. But can we talk about this later? I’m at war with the Japanese right now.

Son: Okay.

story by ryanedgar


There is just something about Kraft Dinner. I love the stuff. Every now and then I get a craving and nothing else will suffice. I hopped into the car and drove through the snow to the nearest Metro. It was cold enough, but hardly arctic. On the way into the store I caught sight of a man with two bags in his hand. He wasn’t in a hurry but walked with determined steps. He was tall, balding, wore glasses and was melting into his late 40s (if I had to hazard a guess). There was a confident and affable vibe coming off of him. He was the perfect candidate.

            “Excuse me, but what does sex mean to you?” He stared me down, presumably to figure out if I was serious. He saw I was and replied:

            “Once a week, twice on our anniversary.” We both laughed and he walked away.

story by darrensavage


He appeared timid, back to the wall with his coffee and paper. Eyes surveying the pages blankly, presumably bypassing the print and focusing on the pictures. Just flipping through the sections to pass time. I was going to ask a woman this question. But I thought that might be generic, or overtly chauvinistic. Sex is a fragile issue. It means everything to some and nothing to that celibate few.  It can be a means of financial gain, self-expression or oppression. I feel the topic should be broached freely and frequently.

            I approached my subject, readying myself for an uninvolved response.

            “Excuse me,” I said. “Sorry to bother you, but, what does sex mean to you.” He was taken back as all of these random question recipients are.

            “Something I focus too much energy on,” he gently replied.

            Another succinct answer to a complex inquiry. I retreated to my laptop to document the exchange.

story by nilsblondon


I was fairly nervous and somewhat sure that I didn’t want to ask the personal question. However, I had to ask someone, somewhere so why not at a bar? Liquor and music usually lighten and loosen the patrons, so to speak. Many drinks and many battles with my reluctant self later, I still hadn’t asked the question, and decided I probably wasn’t going to. Drunk, dejected and broke I made for the door, assuring myself that on a different day, at a different place it would all be okay. On the way out I walked straight into a girl, we both stopped and she looked at me. Probably she was expecting an apology, expecting anything really, except:

            “What does sex mean to you?”

            “It means that guy,” she said cryptically, nodding past my shoulder and walking by. That wasn’t so bad…

story by tylerdoupe


Hailing from a small town, I never took public transit. In lieu, we had pick-up trucks, ATVs and skateboards. After escaping from the clutches of small town life, I was able to grasp the usefulness and painfulness of public transit. And I must say, it is a better means of getting around than a hay wagon.

            One thing that has always bugged me about public transit, however, was the anomaly of loneliness. Many faces surround you, but no one looks, not to mention talks to one another. (This is the opposite in Africa, by the way.) As if we were all walking alone through the ghettos of Detroit, we keep to ourselves praying not to make eye contact on the bus. Now, my asinine remedy for this – given it is indeed harebrained – was to ask a stranger about sex on the subway. I randomly walked up to an innocent-looking Asian woman, probably late ‘20s, and asked thus:

            “Excuse me… not to sound forward or anything, but what does sex mean to you?” Long critical glance ensues, and then surprisingly:

            “Hmm, well, that depends on the kind of sex,” she replies.

            “Well, you know, sexual intercourse, not to sound lewd or anything.”

            “Ah, yes,” she takes a second and inspects her toiling hands. “Well, I love it. But that doesn’t mean I’m promiscuous. Actually, the opposite. I tend to wait around three months until I engage in sex with a new partner. I’m not one to do that one-night stand shit. That’s just not cool, and frankly, it’s not safe.”

            “Yeah, I agree. Good rule, too,” I modestly reply. “Hey, not to sound weird, but do you mind if I sit here and we talk until Kipling station?”

            “Actually, I’m getting off here.”


story by ryanbolton


  1. Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

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