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Fingering Is the Most Important Sex Act You’re Doing Wrong, or Not At All

If we can drill down to one true sex thing, it’s that the only thing worse than never doing a potentially great sex thing at all is doing that potentially great sex thing badly. Such is the case with fingering. Currently, there is a terrible fingering epidemic so serious women would rather go finger-free than endure the digital terror of an awkward fingerbang.

“Fingering has the potential to be great but it never will be because men are terrible at it,” a woman tells Marie Yagoda at Broadly for a piece imploring straight men to do away with their bad fingering if they cannot get this essential sex move right. It’s sad that men still need to be told this, because in many ways, fingering is more important than other sex things men seem to think matter more, such as:

Your dick size. Fingering is more important than whether you have a big dick, because it will compensate grandly for a smaller one, and it will accent wonderfully with a big one.

How long you last: Lots of shorter sex is better than one big long sex session, and fingering is better than one epic performance-art tantric fuck (unless you’re into that).

Making her orgasm 500 times. Yes, a bunch of life-changing earthquake-gasms are great if you’re an expert lover, but given that only 64 percent of women get off in sexual encounters compared to 91 percent of men, how about shoot for one decent orgasm? If that comes from fingering, all the better.

Head. This one’s controversial, but the reality is, good head comes with fingering. Ideally, combine both oral and digital stimulation in one super-move. But unless you’re knocking it out of the park on clitoral stimulation alone — and even if you are — vary it up by using them intermittently. Learn to walk before you run. (Head is running. Fingering is walking.)

Number of previous sexual partners. Fingering beats having had a bunch of crazy sex. In terms of demonstrating experience as a lover, it’s always better to have sex with a man who has learned how to fuck one woman really well — and finger her — rather than one who has wham-bam-thank-you-ma’amed a dozen, finger-free. The former requires you to actually learn how to give a woman pleasure; the latter is more likely to mean you just received it.

But back to that the fingering: Knowing what to do is as important as knowing what not to do. Here’s how you’re doing it wrong, per Yagoda’s sources:

  • You’re sticking a solo finger up there and calling it a day (“I barely even felt it; I think I moved him to stop,” one woman told Yagoda in what is the most memorable anecdote in recent memory. “One finger! Also, he never followed me back on Instagram.”)
  • You’re all clit with no fingers at all — you have to alternate the clit-attention or risk clit-overload.
  • You’re jamming a bunch of fingers in and out of there like it’s some kind of madcap penis-surrogate dance.

Not all the women in the piece, or in the world, to be sure, love fingering — one said it felt about as pleasurable as a finger up the nose (debatable). Another called it “a low-impact sex act for adults.” Another said once you’ve had the penis, what’s the point? As if fingers are, at best, a poor man’s penis, when they are, in fact, a rich man’s appendages.

But it was unclear if these women had ever been fingered right. Maybe the trouble is that, much like handjobs, we think of fingering as purely the province of teenagers — something you do when you can’t or don’t want to play for the Big Leagues yet. When you don’t want to go all the way to third base, you finger. When you don’t have anywhere to really fuck, you finger. That’s what backseats, spaces between arcades games and under the bleachers at a pep rally are for.

But fingering shouldn’t be something we grow out of—it deserves to run with the big dogs. It belongs right beside other sex moves in the adult repertoire, and unlike other sex moves, it can actually double as both opener and headliner: It can be the foreplay that preheats the oven, or the main act that bakes the cake.

“Most women haven’t been thoroughly fingered in a very long time,” sex therapist Vanessa Marin wrote in a guide at Lifehacker instructing men to finger, and only finger, their ladies tonight. In it, she explains that fingers can give more “focused, deliberate and intense stimulation than any other body part,” and that it can be refreshing and unexpected for finger-starved women. Sex is great, but even the greatest sex needs a little variety. Digital, anal and oral are all valid options.

Yagoda offers a few tips for a good fingering, which boil down to three things: Clitoral engagement, thoughtful insertion as opposed to mindless jabbing, and room-temperature fingers. Marin has more: “A safe place to start is drawing circles around her clitoris with your thumb, and using two fingers to pump in and out of her vaginal canal. Start off slow and gentle, and gradually build up to more intensity.”

Marin reiterates that since 70 percent of women need some kind of clitoral stimulation to orgasm, this is likely your best bet for hitting that home run, or slam dunk, or whatever sports analogy for an orgasm you needed in this piece to get your fingers out tonight.

Of course, not every woman wants to be fingered. It’s always good to remember that there are no universal sex rules that work for everyone. Take pussy eating: For every woman who would fall to the ground weeping if a dude would just learn how to go down on her, there’s a woman who would sooner opt for a heavy period 25 days a month over you going anywhere near her nether regions with your face.

But now that you know how many women would benefit from this, don’t you want to be great at it? A good fingerer is a rare thing, and the good ones tend to stick in the mind like, uh, fingers in a Chinese finger trap (sorry). Whatever you do, don’t just go jamming those fingers in blindly without a digital plan. It’s a vagina, not a piñata — that’s one rule that applies to pretty much all your best sex moves.