08/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

AP Blows The Doors Off Of This 'Sex' Stuff We Keep Hearing About

Sex. What is it exactly? Can you make babies, with this "sex?" Or is it merely something that Craigslist has to stop advertising, to save print journalism? Some reports indicate that an entire "entertainment industry" has stealthily formed itself, predicated on the notion that Americans are in constant, near-terror need of sex. But why then, does the thought of Mark Sanford having sex make everybody so sad inside? All of these are great mysteries, that no one had ever thought to penetrate. Until now, that is! Via Chris Lehmann comes the news that the brave souls at the Associated Press are finally going to get to the bottom of all of this sex stuff.

And AP's report, entitled, "What Is Sex? Americans Can't Agree," is just as delightful as you might suspect. You see, America was just sitting back, chilling, when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, "philandering politicians" started appearing in the news, with their "fuzzy definitions" of sex, and now the whole nation is gripped with "uneasiness." Yes! THAT IS EXACTLY HOW ALL OF THIS HAPPENED.

We talk about sex. A lot.

But all too often we don't know exactly what we're talking about. What's considered getting to third base these days anyway?

And when it comes to philandering politicians, the line on what's considered sex is especially fuzzy.

President Bill Clinton said oral sex wasn't sex. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says in his latest revelation that he "crossed lines" with women other than his wife and Argentine mistress, but "didn't cross the sex line." He wouldn't say what that meant.

AGH! I KNOW! Why didn't Mark Sanford clearly demarcate where the "sex line" was, in accordance with his destiny? How will any of us feel safe at "third base," ever again? Well, maybe none of this is Mark Sanford's fault! Maybe Mark Sanford was just the victim of our own notions about what sex is, or isn't. We have met the enemy, and, naturally, it has been polled, by a leading research institution!

In 1998, just as Clinton was defining what "is" is, two other Kinsey researchers were publishing a paper in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association on how people see sex. The answer: We can't really agree.

The study, based on 1991 survey of 599 college students, found something odd considering the parsing of male politicians. Women in general were less likely than men to consider oral sex or mutual masturbation as having "had sex."

Of the women, 37 percent considered oral sex as, well, sex. Forty-four percent of men did.

A second survey in 1996, asked "Is oral sex 'real' sex?"

About 52 percent of the men said yes, but only 46 percent of women did.

To me, the greater concern might be what Americans think the third person singular present form of the verb "to be" is, but nevermind that! Maybe, somewhere rooted in our nations' collected body of cultural arcana is the knowledge we seek!

In the classic Meat Loaf song, "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," radio broadcaster Phil Rizzuto describes baseball players advancing bases, as a young couple negotiates intimacy in their car.

It helped cement the public on the 1960s analogy of first, second, third and home to increasingly intimate sexual activities.

Yes! Everybody knows that the 1960s notions of "intimacy" weren't cemented until 1977, when the wizened sage Meat Loaf descended unto the nation, to explain all of this! And yet, years later, the same Loaf would seemingly find himself in the unsteady waters in which we now swim, professing that he would "do anything for love, but he won't do that." Huh? What? Oh, that must be THE SEX LINE. Cross At Your Peril. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to open a bondage club in Washington, DC named "Your Peril." Any backers out there?

Anyway, AP's watershed report concludes:

Americans tend to judge politicians more harshly about marital infidelity than Europeans, said Janssen, who is Dutch. It's a cultural thing.

But we do have something in common with those across the Atlantic, Janssen said.

Europeans don't really have explicit definitions of sex in their languages, either.

So, they can be just as vague when they talk about it as we are.

Maybe the need for 'explicit definitions" is redundant in a culture where prominent politicians, like Silvio Berlusconi, flaunt their recreational sexatoriums without so much of a breath of concern. I had a mind to inquire, but Europe would not return my calls, presumably because they were all busy fucking.

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