#hotgoss redux: Get Your Head in the Game
Thank you for tuning in to our #hotgoss episode all about oral sex and consent! If you didn’t watch the full episode, check it out on FacebookLive here. We covered a lot of ground on the episode, so as a follow up we wanted to provide our viewers with some practical tips for talking about oral sex with partners and friends. Thus...
The Speak About It Guide to Speaking About Oral Sex
6 Simple Steps to Make the Conversation About Head Way Less of a Headache
1) YOU GET TO DEFINE ORAL SEX HOWEVER YOU WANT. First things first, oral sex means something different for everyone. For some people oral sex is always on the menu, for others it’s only comfortable, appropriate, or pleasurable in certain situations and with certain partners. For some folks, oral sex IS sex. For some it’s an appetizer, for others it's the whole meal. There is no right order or way to enjoy oral as long as you’re doing it consensually.
2) MAKE IT MUTUAL. No one should feel pressure to give or receive oral sex. And everyone involved should enjoy what’s going on. But the way oral sex is framed in pop culture, media, and social dialogue doesn’t often paint a picture of mutuality. We hear it from students we work with, and research supports the fact that there is a huge lack of reciprocity, especially along gender lines, in straight sex. Women are often expected to give blow jobs without any returned mutual pleasure. This can be especially true for younger folks just starting to be sexually active. We don’t see many depictions of cunnilingus in media, and many publications directed at cis-men only offer it as an option when it serves as a stop on the path to male orgasm, or to add to his credibility ‘in bed.'
Even in queer relationships there can be a lack of mutuality when it comes to oral. For example, in gay culture, there’s often an expectation that a person who prefers to bottom is obligated by default to give oral sex. Which obviously isn’t true.
There's lots of pressure surrounding oral, and we encourage you to let that go. Don't pressure other people into giving you what you want. And take notice when you are feeling pressured.Question the norms, tropes, and pressures associated with oral. Speak up, listen to each other, and reciprocate! When we talk about reciprocity, we don’t mean that oral has to be a perfect one-for-one exchange, just that folks are finding ways to enjoy oral sex that works for everyone. Oral sex is the most fun when the folks involved are interested in listening to and pleasing each other!
3) END THE STIGMA. There’s a so many taboos when it comes to oral sex we could write a whole book about it! From deeply rooted shame against pleasure and sex in general, to the high school hallway gossip and rumor mills that create misinformation and fear surrounding oral, it can be hard to have an honest conversation about oral sex for yourself and your partners.
Because oral sex is so integral to many queer relationships, the broader conversation about oral can feel really taboo, because it inherently involves queer folks. Additionally, there is still a pervasive stigma about cunnilingus, or oral sex performed on people with vulvas. Many people still believe that cunnilingus is inherently dirty, smelly, or gross. But nobody’s genitals are inherently dirty or gross! Almost three quarters of women don’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone, and cunnilingus can be a great option for receiving pleasure for folks with vulvas. Plus, plenty of folks of all genders also enjoy giving cunnilingus too!
Just because oral caries a stigma or taboo, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. In fact, all the more reason! If we talked about oral sex in the bedroom, in the classroom, and beyond, a lot of the problems and pressures associated might be minimized. More folks might be likely to ask questions and use proper barrier methods, and fewer people might feel pressure to perform acts they don’t want to. All around more people would be more empowered with knowledge and information. So take a look at some of the stigmas associated with oral, and give those the boot. And then go and have some shame-free fun...consensually!
4) FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LIKE. Having healthy, pleasurable sex is both about listening to your partner and communicating your desires too. In order to communicate your desire, you need to know what you like! And figuring out what like you can take time and focus. Don’t be afraid to masturbate and figure out what rhythms, patterns, stimulants, and erogenous zones feel good for you. Self sex is the safest sex you can have, and when done at the appropriate time and place, can be a great way to learn about your body.
Desire is shaped by more than just physical touch, however. Your prior experiences, sexual or not, shape it. So taking time to figure out where your desires (or lack there-of) come from is important too. No one is telling you that you have to like oral sex. But you should figure out what you do like and why, so you can be open and empathetic to a partners’ desires too. Oral may be a part of that, so it's important to know how you feel. And of course, how you feel can always change, in the middle of an interaction and throughout your lifetime.
5) DO YOUR RESEARCH. There’s some great research and writing out there on the big bad internet about oral sex. From tips and techniques for maximizing pleasure and minimizing awkwardness, to information about protection and barrier methods, Google is your friend. Knowledge is power, and there’s nothing better than being comfortable and confident in your body when it comes to hooking up. Likewise, so few people receive medically accurate information from sex ed classes that includes pleasure when it comes to sex. Don't be afraid to admit you have learning to do, and then do some digging and learn about what’s going on down there for you and your partner. Check out our resource list below for a great start!
6) SPEAK ABOUT IT. Seriously. Talk to your partners about oral sex. Talk about how you feel about it, and try having the convo with your pants on first. Speak about past experiences, concerns, comments, curiosities. Talk about the kind of language you and your partners want to use for oral and to describe the body parts or actions involved. For example, some people with vulvas love the word “pussy,” they think it’s cute or sexy. For others, it’s offensive or childish. For many trans-folks, medically accurate terminology may not work for what they want to use for their bits.
And then, when your pants are off, keep speaking about it. Check in, tell each other what you’re looking for, what feels good and doesn’t. Give feedback. You’re not down there to bake a cake, you’re down there to have a good time. Speak About It!
Resources: OR Some Food For Thought Before You Eat Out
Here are some articles that we found interesting, and that helped form our own conversation about oral sex on #hotgoss this month. We don’t agree with everything said in every article below, but each helped us think more broadly about oral sex and how we speak about it.
Safe Oral Sex & Protection
- Why Don’t We Use Protection For Oral Sex? - Pacific Standard
- What kind of protection can you use for Oral Sex? - Planned Parenthood
- Should I be using condoms with oral sex? - Justin Lehmiler
- Do I Really Need to Use a Condom for Oral Sex - Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center
- All About Dental Dams - Queering Sex Ed from Teen Health Source
Oral Sex, Gender & Reciprocity
- Why Some Men Won’t….& Men Explain Why They Dont’.....- Broadly, CW: graphic descriptions of oral sex, genitalia, some body-negative language
- Why I Don’t Give Blow Jobs - VICE
- What To Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Go Down On You - Teen Vogue
- How Men Feel & How Women Feel….about Oral Sex
- Stigma & Gender Norms Are Why Many Straight Men Don't Go Down On Women- Bustle
General Information, Tips, & Tricks
- All About Oral Sex - Teen Health Source
- Oh Joy Sex Toy’s Guide to Cunnlingus: Cute, informational comic about stimulating vulvas
- How do I enjoy receiving oral sex? - Bustle, Q&A with Sex Therapist, Vanessa Marin about receiving oral sex. While focused on people with vulvas, her advice works for all people and all bodies!
- GirlSex 101: Is THE queer sex ed books for people with vulvas or people attracted to people with vulvas!
- Why Are People Into That? - Tina Horn’s podcast runs the gamut on different desires, kinks and interests, which can help you think about where associations, stigmas and desires come from in your own life.
Speak About It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with high schools and colleges to educate, entertain, and empower students to create positive change within their communities, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and prevent sexual violence.
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