Tag Archives: bases

Sexual Bases

Background: The informant works at a private school, where one of her jobs s running a class about drugs, alcohol, stress, and sex. This class is for freshmen in high school, so when she speaks about the students, this is who she’s referring to.

LR: So, the only thing, well, so, obviously I think it’s changed since I was growing up, so in my generation, when people talked about getting to first base, obviously that was kissing, you know, usually it meant that you french kissed which involves tongue as opposed to just pecking or whatever. So second base was like going up, so see the difference is, I think, in my generation it all referred to the female and now I think it actually somewhat refers to the males, which is kinda weird. So my understanding was second base was like you got felt up, like under your shirt. Third was like down your pants, and then fourth was all the way, you had sex. But, in more recent I guess connotations was like more towards guys. I mean I think first base is still like kissing or french kissing or whatever, but I think second base now, for whatever reason, is like hands, like giving somebody a hand job, and then third base is essentially giving a blow job and then fourth base is still going all the way. But again the reference point is different because it used to be about the female body and now somehow it’s become male centric?

Me: Do you have any idea when that change happened? And who did you hear about the change from?

LR: I mean I feel like just hearing the students talking or just from reading more current books, um, maybe like that sex book, that book that was like pink, I don’t know if it was called sex. Anyway, but I know that that was very common knowledge when I was growing up, like the bases, and the whole baseball reference.

Me: And when would you say you first hear about it? Like at what age?

LR: I would say probably junior high, like 7th-9th grade. Probably more like 8th, maybe, 8th grade.

Me: And when did, for you, people stop using the bases to talk about relationships?

LR: Oh I still think they talk about it, I think it’s the most common metaphor but I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant or–

Me: Yeah, no but when you were growing up like kind of between what ages was it used to talk about intimacy?

LR: Oh I’m sure I probably heard about it when I was like 12, 13, like early adolescence and then maybe, I mean, obviously by the time I’d graduated from high school, I mean I guess people still talked about it that way, but I don’t know maybe 18. Um and then honestly I didn’t think about it any more until my daughter was an adolescent and I think I just started hearing things again and I don’t know if it was from parents, I mean I guess I just heard it from, well having worked around and been around adolescents in middle and upper school, I think you just heard things, I think I just started hearing these different reference points. I feel like there was this generational switch.

Context of performance: This was told to me over a Zoom call.

Thoughts: I think personally that both are used, that the bases refer to both men and women and it just depends on who is talking. I’ve never used this, I don’t know that tons of people do, it seems to me that people are more straightforward. However, using euphermisms or metaphors are still a very common way to talk about sex mainly, phrases such as “scoring,” getting laid” or “going all the way.” It seems like what hasn’t changed is the age this takes place in–adolescence–which makes sense to me because sex is a kind of taboo during this period.

Cops n’ Robbers School Yard Game

“M” is 21 year old male student at the University of Southern California, where he is a Junior studying Animation and minoring in Philosophy. M is originally from the outskirts of New York state where he describes himself as living in a rural area. He described himself as going to a high school of ~60 students, where cliche formation was rare as students could ‘jump from social group to social group’. He describes his parents as ‘hippies’ that were very relaxed in their parenting style as well as their personal approach towards life. He is of Irish descent on both sides and describes this aspect of his life as very active in his life.



“Me: So what game did you play again?

M: Oh! Cops n’ Robbers!

Me: When did you play that game?

M: Elementary school!

Me: How do you play that game?

M: Well you’re basically you got some cops, and you got some robbers, so there’s like people on teams and stuff. So you’ve got the cops chasing the robbers, they could get feisty with it and the robbers could beat up the cops. There were bases too, if the robbers got to the bases they were okay, it was a hideout.

Me: Were you usually a cop or a robber?

M: Man, I don’t remember, that was a long time ago. I don’t think there was one that I was more of, we all sorta did both all the time. It was like, hey! Let’s play Cops n’ Robbers, I’ll be on this team you be on that.

Me: Did the cops always win?

M: No. It’s not like real life, it’s more realistic than that.

(I laugh)”



The game seems to be “M”s version of the popular schoolyard game, Cops n’ Robbers, a fairly well known game in North America. In the April 1973 publication of The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, in an article titled Children’s Folklore in the Archive of Folk Song, the article suggests the splitting of children’s Folklore in their very large Folklore collection (at the time, the collection was near 150,000 entries) into categories. One of these categories, battle games uses Cops and Robbers as a classic example as to what sorts of entries would fit this sort, assuming knowledge in the reader about the popularity of the game (Emrich, 1973).

The game itself, as a school yard game, likely allowed “M” and his friends to try out ‘adult roles’ while also reinforcing basic moral ideas like ‘good guys’, ‘bad guys’ and ‘the good guys have to stop the bad guys’, while also allowing them to simulate more adult situations (apprehending a criminal). The lack of preference could indicate that the players had no moral or occupational preference and preferred the role playing aspect instead, this could be contrasted to a child who wants to play as the cop because his father is a police officer (or any other reason he/she may admire the profession). ”M”s version of the game also included a base that the criminals could get to to defeat the cops and get away. As the cops did not always win (or the robbers didn’t) the aspect of good triumphing over evil or any other sort of overarching narrative did not appear to be part of “M”s approach to the game.


Emrich, D. (1973, April). Children’s Folklore in the Archive of Folk Song. In The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (pp. 140-151). Library of Congress.