Conventional sex, or vanilla sex, is sexual behavior that is within the range of normality for a culture or subculture, and typically involves sex which does not include elements of BDSM, kink, or fetishism. When looking at conventional sex with disdain, it may be described as unadventurous or dull.
What is regarded as conventional sex depends on cultural and sub cultural norms. Among heterosexual couples in the Western world, for example, conventional sex often refers to sexual intercourse in the missionary position. It can also describe penetrative sex which does not have any element of BDSM, kink or fetish.
The British Medical Journal regards conventional sex between homosexual couples as "sex that does not extend beyond affection, mutual masturbation, and oral and anal sex." In addition to mutual masturbation, penetrative sexual activity among same-sex pairings is contrasted by non-insertive acts such as intercrural sex, frot and tribadism, although tribadism has been cited as a common but rarely discussed sexual practice among lesbians.
The term vanilla in vanilla sex derives from the use of vanilla extract as the basic flavoring for ice cream, and by extension, meaning plain or conventional. In relationships where only one partner enjoys less conventional forms of sexual expression, the partner who does not enjoy such activities is often referred to as the vanilla partner. As such, it is easy for them to be branded unadventurous and dull in sexual matters. Through exploration with their partner, it is possible for a more vanilla-minded person to discover new facets of their sexuality. For others, such exploration is not a positive experience, and they may find the practices they are comfortable with are sufficient for their satisfaction.
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