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Frotting

Updated: FEBRUARY 17, 2021
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on February 2, 2021

Frotting is the practice of rubbing penises (and sometimes testicles) against another person’s body for sexual pleasure. The term frotting comes from the French word frotter, meaning “to rub.” It is also a slang version of the term frottage, which encompasses all non-penetrative sex or outercourse. It is often simply called frot.

The term is most commonly used in the LGBTQIA+ community to describe rubbing penises together consensually. Gay male activist Bill Weintraub credits himself with coining the term frotting in the late 1990s. He suggested frotting instead of anal sex, which he believed was a deviant activity. Along with other activists, he believed practicing anal sex would decline in the gay community with the growing threat of HIV and AIDS. He also believed frotting was the "true" gay sex, as it involved genital-to-genital contact.

This form of frotting usually occurs between seated or standing partners facing one another. They move close together, so the undersides of their erect penises run parallel to one another. In this position, one person usually masturbates the penises together. Alternatively, a couple may lie down in opposite directions, so their penises meet in the middle but face different directions. One person can then reach down and stroke the penises together.

The term frotting can also describe non-consensually rubbing the male genitals against an unsuspecting person’s body or an inanimate object. The person interested in non-consensual frotting usually rubs themselves against a stranger’s body, but they may also practice frotting against someone they know. Non-consensual frotting usually occurs in a crowded public place, such as on public transport or at a music festival, where many people gather.

Frotting can be seen as similar to tribbing, where couples rub their vulvas together. There are several slang terms for frotting, including sword-fighting, the Ivy League rub, the Princeton rub, and doing it Oxford style. The term frictation may refer to frottage as a whole, but can also refer to penis-to-penis sexual contact. A fetish for frotting is called frotteurism.

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More About Frotting

Consensual frotting feels good for both participants because it creates friction against the penis, especially the frenulum. This spot underneath the head of the penis contains many nerves, so it feels great when it’s stimulated. The warmth emanating from the other penis and the stimulation that comes from having it touching along the whole shaft can make frotting more arousing than a hand job.

For a twist on frotting, someone could place a finger between the heads of the two penises. This finger becomes lubricated by precum and adds extra sensations to every stroke. Couples can also try frotting with lubricant or without, or with the addition of sex toys for variety.

People practice frotting for a variety of reasons. Like the original activists, people may practice frotting to feel close to someone without anal sex. They may not like how anal sex feels or worry about the risk of STIs. Some people are grossed out by the anus and feces, so prefer genital stimulation.

Some people feel frotting is more intimate and affectionate, so it is a better form of lovemaking for them. They may also prefer the mutual sensations and the feeling of equality that comes with frotting, which may not be found in anal sex where a power dynamic might be felt when someone tops and the other bottoms. Some couples may also opt for frotting if they are abstaining from penetrative sex to retain their technical virginity.

While frotters such as Weintraub shunned anal sex completely, not all men who practice frotting do. Today frotting may be the main sexual event or part of foreplay along with other sexual acts, such as analingus and penetrative anal sex. Some people may reserve anal sex for very special relationships, but enjoy frotting in casual relationships. Couples in a sexual rut may also like to try frotting to spice things up.

Frotting is a relatively safe sexual activity, as it does not involve penetration and fluid transfer. Note though that it is possible to pass on an STI through frotting, especially one transmitted via skin-to-skin contact such as public lice or HPV. People should monitor their symptoms and get tested for STIs regularly to make sure they are safe. Condoms can further reduce the risks.

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