Hello, friends! It’s time for another installment of “Lucy responds to questionable/terrible sex and love advice on the internet!”

"What do you want me to do? LEAVE? They'll keep being wrong!"

Credit: xkcd.

This week, my friend sent me a gem of a piece from Cosmopolitan about two of my very favorite topics: oral sex and equality in sexual relationships. It’s called…wait for it, “Girls who say they love blow jobs are ruining my life.” Because, insists author Anna Breslaw, there is not a single woman on Earth who truly gets off on giving oral sex to dudes. NOT A SINGLE ONE. The absurdity of such a declaration is only heightened by the fact that it was published by a magazine that consistently runs content dedicated to the pursuit of male pleasure (5 BILLION SEX TIPS THAT WILL BLOW HIS MIND) while barely addressing female pleasure.

Y’all know I have a lot of feelings about this. Let’s begin:

Asserting that all women don’t like a certain sex act is just as bad as saying all women DO like a specific sex act. It’s gender essentialist, polices women’s sexuality, and quickly takes a turn for the slut-shaming.

  • It suggests a very limited view of sex, wherein everything must be quid-pro-quo. There are absolutely women (and men!) who take pleasure in giving pleasure, such as performing fellatio. Alternatively, some women and men hate receiving oral sex. More importantly, these qualities can exist in the same person. The author further tries to illustrate her point with a ridiculously heterosexist metaphor: “I can’t imagine anyone gets off on giving oral sex to a vibrator without other stimulation.” WRONG. Ask the lady queers: strap-on blow jobs can be super hot. If queer women can find it hot, so can straight women.
  • Claiming all women who do enjoy performing unreciprocated oral sex are “pretending” either removes their agency from the equation or implies an ulterior motive. Spoiler alert: both of these things are terrible. The former indicates that these women don’t mean what they say, thus furthering the notion that their consent (or lack thereof) doesn’t really matter. The latter is nothing more than thinly veiled slut-shaming. I get it: it sucks that ladies who don’t give blow jobs are seen as frigid. However, you become part of the problem when you degrade those that happily perform fellatio as woman-hating sluts who refuse to fight the patriarchy with you.

Yes, there is a huge double standard when it comes to oral sex for men and women. However, the problem isn’t manipulative, self-hating sluts; it’s how we’re taught to think and talk about sex.

Breslaw is right in that in heterosexual dating, power dynamics are set up to be skewed towards men. However, this isn’t because of women choosing to selflessly appease men with their mouths. Rather, it stems from how differently men and women are taught to feel about their bodies and sexual experiences. Men are given more freedom to enjoy their sexuality, while women are only permitted to enjoy their sexuality in specific, predetermined ways. Those few women who only claim to love fellatio for male attention operate within a system that rewards that kind of behavior, much like the system that rewards pop stars for sexualizing themselves. That doesn’t make them evil. As Dominique said in yesterday’s post, “Who among us isn’t in some way a complicit participant in the oppressive systems we critique every day?”

Like most problematic beliefs, ideas about oral sex are actively reinforced by the mainstream media. Recently, Evan Rachel Wood laid a massive twitter smack down on the MPAA for forcing the makers of Charlie Countryman to remove a scene in which she explicitly receives, and enjoys, oral sex in order to secure an R rating. She argued what many people plainly observe: cunnilingus is uncomfortable, while fellatio is expected. Men and women are taught from an early age that vaginas are gross. Therefore, oral sex is gross. Many men feel uncomfortable giving cunnilingus, and some women even feel uncomfortable asking for oral sex because it feels like a really onerous request. Cunnilingus then becomes a special treat only given by magical unicorn lovers.

Nevertheless, the solution to sexual inequality isn’t vilifying women for performing a sex act they love (“if y’all stopped, they’d finally listen to the rest of us!”).  Sexual equality is about making sure your needs are met and feeling empowered to communicate those needs to your partners. There’s no handbook dictating which sex acts you’re allowed to enjoy based on your gender and sexual orientation. The only thing that happens when we subscribe to gender essentialist ideas about oral sex is that lots of people get cheated out of the potential joys of giving and receiving fantastic oral sex. Rather, the solution is better sexual communication, no matter who you’re having sex with. 

Do you need some help getting the conversation started? Check out some of our other posts about the subject: