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They Couldn’t Possibly

N. Likes over at My Dissolute Life is talking about oral sex:

I love eating pussy. There’s little I prefer in the world.

So why is it so hard for me to imagine that someone could really, truly enjoy giving me head as much as I love giving it?

It’s a common kind of thing.  I’ve heard it from men and women, both.

He’s got a theory:

This is in the category of what some call “pathogenic beliefs,” a belief (no woman possibly could enjoy the act of giving me pleasure for its own sake) that has its origins in my infancy, probably, and serves to explain and/or protect me from some childhood wound.

And, maybe he’s correct.

I wrote about what the Romans thought about oral sex back in 2011.  It was taboo, but apparently widespread. I mean, sure, maybe it is the result of some Freudian primal wound to believe that cocksucking is inherently boring (even though for some people it totally is boring), but there are still long-standing cultural ideas about oral sex floating around out there.  It’s probably still illegal in some states.

First, it triggers our adaptive ability to feel disgust–it’s strong scent and strong flavor, in some cases.  Our body does it’s best not die from poisoning–anything that can trigger a gag reflex is suspicious.  You’ve got to overcome that, if you’re going to become an oral enthusiast.

Second, there are implicit power differentials in place.  Not to go all Dworkin on y’all, but oral sex is still something that carries around shades of implicit degradation.  That’s why we end up with sites called “Oral Abuse.” Rough fellatio is it’s own genre of porn. It’s still all wrapped up in our ideas about who fucks and who gets fucked.

These two concepts add up to certain conclusions about oral sex. There’s a lot of hand-wringing these days about “hook up culture” and a big chunk of that is reserved for bemoaning the obligatory, joyless hook-up blowjob, because at some point, ideal oral sex became a tit-for-tat back-scratch-exchange sort of thing.

Witness what I like to think of as the “Louie gets date-raped scene” in episode  302 of Louie:

“Do you know how many dicks I’ve sucked that I didn’t want to? Because I’m a good kid, because I do what’s right. I’ve never left anyone hanging. How dare you!”

So, there’s the idea that no one really enjoys giving it. It’s work. It’s a job. Deep Throat isn’t a documentary shot in real time. Giving is an act of service based on the idea that your partner will reciprocate. The assumption is that everyone enjoys receiving, so you do it so you can get it.

Only some people do get off on giving.

And not everyone enjoys receiving.

Harper Eliot wrote a while back about how she doesn’t enjoy being on the receiving end. She, too, has a theory:

I always appreciate the sentiment; it seems to be the mark of a good man if he obliges without being asked, and it’s relatively rare to come across women who don’t enjoy it, but to us there is something very solitary about the act. At some point in the course of this conversation I said “It takes me too much into my head” and my friend heartily agreed.

In general, if a person says they don’t like receiving, the world will tell them no one has done it right, yet. This goes for men who find it boring, and women who find it lonely. It gets zoned somewhere in that space where lesbians just haven’t met the right Almighty Peen. Which, etiquette-wise, makes it incredibly rude to say out loud.

So, believe someone when they tell you that they do (or don’t) like giving or receiving oral.  (Or when they tell you they’re a lesbian.)

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  1. Harper Eliot
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Great piece! Thank you for quoting me here, and so respectfully. I wasn’t at all sure that piece worked, but I’m glad someone got something out of it. I also love your final statement there: we really do need to work on just believing people when they tell us something.

    • Joan
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I really liked that entry! It coincided with a similar convo I’d had a few nights before, so it stuck with me. I got into a discussion about how women crying after sex isn’t always about shame, sadness, or regret. Sometimes it’s just that jarring re-entry into being separate entities. More a “don’t go,” than “I hate myself.”

      (This guy in particular ended up insisting that male post-coital weeping is *always* about shame. I am still not sure I buy it.)

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: sandywentsouth
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joan,
    Excellent piece! being sub-gay I can definitely relate to the type of man who enjoys giving rather than being on the receiving end. While the social construct of being degraded is true, but on the contrary I also feel a power surge being able to “conquer” my beastly partner! :) – controlling the joystick. More importantly as you said, its important to be appreciative of your partner.

    • Joan
      Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the best thing about social constructs is that they’re all in our heads.

  3. Jenny Lyn
    Twitter: jennylynwrites
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m one who falls into the take it or leave it category, receiving that is. I’m in my head too much to really enjoy it to its natural end. I’m better with it when I don’t have long to think about it, if that makes sense. On the giving end, I’ve never felt particularly degraded for it, but I have felt coerced.

  4. Rich
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    I guess I just embrace the joy of sex. I like giving and receiving. Giving head to a woman is wonderful because it is so sensory overstimulating: sight, smell, taste, feel, sound, everything you could ever want. Wonderfully intimate. Shots of pheromones. Relax and receive. You can think about it later.

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