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The Enduring Dissensus of the Queef

Aug 2 2015 6:00 PM
The Enduring Dissensus of the Queef

Illustration by Tuesday Bassen

To queef or not to queef? That's not really much of a question. In reality, there's nothing to bring you closer to the one you're doing it with like an all-too-human moment.

Air: We need it to survive, but at times air can be so cruel, so crass, and in some cases, infuriatingly cock-blocking...well, more like fuck-disrupting, but you get the gist.

The long-lost sister of the fart, a queef is an elusive, impetuous scene-stealer. It's only natural that there are a multitude of varied feelings surrounding the uninvited queef's cameo during sex, among them shame, unease, amusement, bemusement, and even heightened arousal. Only natural, it shouldn't be a big, embarrassing deal, but for many of us--myself included--a queef rings far louder than your orgasmic yelps and screams. Which raises the question: If something sounds like a fart, is it a fart?

Farts are generally considered to be disgusting because they (usually) smell bad. That's what makes them shameful, first and foremost. That, and the fact that when you fart, you are very likely depositing dainty remnants of feces into the space you share with other people. Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know. There is also the issue of a funny-sounding noise coming out of your butt and catching you off-guard. (If you ask me, a fart is only embarrassing if there's a lack of intention. When you have intention to do something, no matter how offensive or vile, the element of humiliation is automatically obliterated.)

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A queef may sound like a fart--and so does, say, that last bit of lotion when you squeeze it out of the tube--but it has nothing to do with the asshole (which is becoming increasingly sexualized and less taboo in mainstream sex anyway, but that's an already-opined-on subject for another day). Plus, it doesn't smell bad. If anything, it smells like nothing or like come.

According to ever-reliable Urban Dictionary, a queef is "an expulsion of wind from the vulva during coitus; a vaginal fart." Equally helpful Wikipedia applies the more, um, eloquent term "vaginal flatulence" and notes it can also happen during stretching or other forms of exercise. Sure, why not? (Wikipedia also informed me of something horrible called colovaginal fistula, which is a tear between the vagina and colon, but I'm digressing again.) Queefs have infiltrated international pop culture discourse: To the Brits, it's a "fanny fart"; in 2009, South Park aired an episode entitled, "Eat, Pray, Queef," in which the town's women call attention to a sexist double standard concerning girls queefing and guys farting; and in her aptly titled song "Queef," American rapper Awkwafina says, "you need to embrace your queefing," that "it's gonna save the world."

There are several varied points of view on the pressing matter. I've heard the "It's sexy" take--which happens to be my personal favorite--from several of the guys I know. I've always thought the arousal factor was easily understandable; for one thing, it takes a phallic object to create a queef, and guys love it when their dicks make shit happen. But one of my friends shared some less obvious insight with me when I asked why he loves queefing in coitus. "When my cock is in a pussy and a queef happens, it vibrates and feels really good on my dick. Like getting a 'hummer.' I haven't had one before, but I'm guessing here!"

Of course, there's also the type of guy who is unabashed in asserting that a queef is a vicious turn-off, something designed by the body to burst the bubble of sensuality and make his precious and precarious boner wilt. This is the dude who says, "Farting's natural. Queefing--what the fuck is that? Noise erupting from your pussy? That's not natural at all. I'd tell a girl to get off me and get out if she queefed." (Clearly, these are the aggressively embellished words of someone who gets little to no action. And yes, I actually know this person, which I realize lowers my credibility by association.) Only an asshole has this take. So congrats to you for finding out early on--that is, unless, you didn't queef until after you'd already married the insecure douche, and in that case, you probably don't give a hoot what he thinks anymore.

Meanwhile, not to play the blame game here, but 90 percent of the time, it's the penis's fault! It's the dick that's pushing the air in there, so why should we feel bad about it? When in doubt, blame the penis!

Sadly, we can't blame the penis for everything, and the truth is I have wanted to disappear from my own body the few times I've queefed, which have caught me off-guard. Sure, if it happens, it's not the end of the world. But I would obviously prefer it not to happen, mostly because I don't know what to do in response. If I choose to just keep going and he heard it, I look like I'm trying to play it off all cool, which doesn't work for me because I'm of the school that staunchly insists it's best to laugh boldly at yourself when you fall down, to the relief of alarmed onlookers, rather than jump back to your feet like nothing's happened, strawberries on knees and all.

But if I acknowledge it somehow, likely by shaking my head wearily, squeezing my eyes shut while wrinkling my nose for a moment, and giggling (clearly, that's what I think makes me look cute in the throes of disrupted passion), then I'm letting the queef steal the show. My thunder, so to speak. And if the guy hadn't even noticed, then he's all, "What? What's so funny?" And then he gets insecure. But I can usually head them off at the pass. Typically, a queef will only occur after you've been getting fucked from behind, and vigorously at that. If you switch positions swiftly, with your legs pressed together or as close to that as possible while clenching your pussy like you're doing a Kegel, all the while repeating, "Not me, not now" in your head, you can almost definitely muffle the noise, should there be one.

Over the course of my in-depth research, I encountered a response (from a male person) for which I hadn't been prepared: "What is a queef? Is it something I have? Or something I do?" After I had brought up the topic to way too many people than I'd like to count at this point, I learned that A) it almost always elicits at least a giggle and a knowing eye-contact exchange between any women present, and B) many people have no idea what queefing is. My mother included. She even needed me to spell it. So, either some vaginas are simply more prone than others, or a lot of people aren't moving around a whole lot during sex (...and now I really regret bringing my mom into this). I think it's both. So maybe it's never happened to you, and you have no idea what it is. Good for you. Also, you may want to try bending over more often when you're getting banged. It feels great.

Remember: You can always throw your hands in the air and say, "So what? Who cares?" This tool applies to many of life's irritations, queefs included. Ultimately, I only find a queef genuinely cringe-inducing if it occurs during a one-night stand you hope will evolve into multiple-night stands and/or a bona fide relationship or if you're dying to maintain a regal air of glamorously enigmatic sexiness. Nothing like a body behaving like, you know, a body--and not a satiny smooth, delectably shaped, boner-catalyzing object of drool-inspiring desire and unfathomable pleasure--to kill a sexy moment.

We can deceive ourselves all we want about sex--how with the "right person" it can be "making love"; how it's either all romance--with candles, stilettos, lace thigh-high stockings, and whipped cream that doesn't end up slimy and drippy--or all porn--with hyperbolized dirty talk, cum shots, and glisteningly wet, well-oiled skin. But the reality is, sex is pretty gross. It's sweat and spit and other fluid from our deepest orifices all slapping, thwacking, and melding together until you're reduced to a pile of swarthy limbs, some hairier than others. So big whoop. Shit happens.

In reality, there's nothing to bring you closer to the one you're doing it with like an all-too-human moment. It may be a mood-murderer, but that dreaded queef can also provide comic relief and break the sense of seriousness we often get caught up in when having sex. Laugh it off, and keep it moving. Things are only embarrassing if you let them be embarrassing, with or without intention. Screw the shame spiral! Besides, what's so bad about a little shame, anyway? It's just humility with a negative spin--and we can all use a little more humility once in awhile.

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