By Jess Zheng
As a cis woman of color (and let’s be honest, blossoming misandrist), performing oral sex on straight cis men has always been loaded. Sometimes, I can’t help but think “what would the ancestors think?” and for the better part of my life, I’ve always thought of giving head during straight sex as degrading. It wasn’t until recently when that mindset changed, but even then I still find performing oral on straight cis men to be muddy waters. I do want to disclaim that for this article I am specifically sharing my experiences and thoughts on oral sex during straight sex with cis men, and in no way does this article speak for the vast experiences of sex between consenting adults. Anyways, let’s dive in, head first (pun intended).
Although an act as old as time itself (I’m talking art on bathhouses in Pompeii), giving head has a lot of connotations in our modern society. If you think about it and spare maybe 7 or so minutes with me, there’s something about it that is inherently degrading. We need to look no further than the colloquial insults we use—phrases like “suck my dick”, “blow me”, or “get on your knees” (most often used by men as an emasculating insult to other men)— connote something offensive and degrading about the act and the performer of the act. When we look at straight cis women receiving head, not only is it depicted as extremely rare in popular media but vaginas are made out to be “smelly”—often as an excuse as to why straight men won’t go downtown. Peggy Orenstein does a great Ted Talk about female pleasure and talks more about this dynamic, so please check it out here. Anyways, I’ll also just add that if I see DJ Khaled out and about it’s on sight. Clearly, there’s a sexual disparity and women lose out regardless of whether they’re giving or receiving.
We can’t talk about the degrading nature of oral sex between two straight cis adults without addressing the violently misogynist modern porn industry. Straight porn especially works to capture and reproduce power dynamics in sex and floods us with imagery of women gagging, their heads being held down, and their mascara running while performing head. This scene is almost always a given in any porn video, while women receiving oral sex rarely makes the cut. Gee, and I wonder why so many straight cis men expect head during sex with no intention of returning it? Straight porn, however, does a great job at capturing what the experience of head for many people happens to be—violent and violating.
Not only is what we’re seeing on-screen violent, but it’s often real acts of violence against women that we’re seeing. The two-fold violence against women is not only the extremity of what we’re viewing, but also knowing that the women in videos on unregulated mass distributor sites like Pornhub are often underage, underpaid, or trafficked and exploited. The lack of concern for these women conditions people, especially men, into thinking that sex is inherently degrading and violent and is an act of power and assertion of dominance. I recommend this New York Times article for further reading on the real consequences of the porn available to us and the porn we consume. Furthermore, revisiting the head push, I want to note that unless your partner specifies that they enjoy having their head pushed or held down while giving head, it IS sexual assault. Since we never know the kind of sexual and intimate experiences someone has had, using force during oral sex should never be assumed to be “on the table,” just like any other sexual act (pegging, for example).
So now that we’ve thought a bit about why this seemingly natural act is imbued with feelings of degradation, let’s ask ourselves: can it be empowering? How does it affect your activism or maybe credibility as a feminist?
I think to answer that, dear reader, we should first list out the reasons to blow a straight cis man (and yeah, this part was definitely the hardest to write):
You enjoy performing oral sex on a penis.
You want to pleasure your partner in this specific way.
You are exploring and defining what oral sex looks like: most of the time, we see head portrayed as fast and rough, but when we actually take the time to focus on a pleasure point for our partners and expand our understanding of oral sex (for example, sensual and slow blow jobs, 69ing, cock rings, ball play, etc) which can lead to increased intimacy and enjoyment for you and your partner. Head can be whatever you want!!!
But let’s talk about reasons to NOT blow a straight cis man:
The world blows them daily so, there’s kinda no need (I’m kidding! Unless...)
The general anxiety around accomplishing the act. A lot of women feel pressure to perform exceptionally like it’s a demonstration of femininity and sexuality— a litmus test if you will. Spectatoring, or the act of watching yourself perform during sex and being on edge about how you look and how sexy you are during an act, is a big pressure point for women (and another consequence of the porn industry).
You could just plain not want to. It’s another sex act you could just not enjoy.
It’s important to be willing to have that conversation with your partner: communicate your boundaries and advocate for your desires!
Discomfort! The act could be very foreign to you and that’s okay too.
Your partner could not enjoy the act of receiving oral. For some people with uncircumcised penises, oral sex might be too overwhelming or even lead to pain due to the sensitivity of the foreskin.
Of course, there could be more reasons for and against depending on each specific case. And don’t forget that some mainly see oral sex as a form of foreplay, but it’s important to explore other activities for foreplay as well—such as body messages and focusing on erotic zones. The book 101 Kinky Things You Can Do by Kate Sloan is a great place to start if you’re looking for inspiration (with gender-neutral language and inclusive of all sexualities too).
I’m sure you’re wondering at this point, what’s your take, baby? To blow or not to blow? And my answer is: it’s up to you and whether or not you truly want to do it with the specific person in the specific situation you’re in. While I have personally found a sense of empowerment in knowing I can and do pleasure my partner through giving head, I truly cannot tell you to blow or not to blow. I know, it sounds like a cop-out, and don’t you feel ridiculous having read to the end for an answer like this? (I know you like it, you whore) But at least I got you thinking about your relationship with sex, and I’m not gonna decide for you because I want you to decide for yourself what YOU like. And isn’t that true sexual empowerment and liberation?
Please check out the further readings and resources and enjoy this short haiku <3
Blow or not to blow?
The answer, only you know
Center your pleasure
Further reading + resources:
Boston University Students for Reproductive Freedom (Instagram)
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by Adrienne Maree Brown
101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do by Kate Sloan
Jess (Your favorite Taurus)