Our contributor Abby Spector, who is double-majoring in English and Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:
From an early age, sex always seemed logical to me. Penis goes into vagina. Perhaps orgasms ensue. Perhaps a baby grows. Perhaps not. The end. It didn’t sound appealing, but it didn’t gross me out either. I saw sex as a way grown ups shake hands — simple, courteous, and an easy way to spread disease. Oral sex was a different story. Why would anyone want to put that in their mouth? At the time, I wouldn’t eat brussels sprouts. Penis? I’d pass. There I was, a fifth grader, taking a vow of oral celibacy.
I broke my vow six years later in the backseat of my boyfriend’s parents’ old Volvo. I gagged. He came. Maybe he came and then I gagged. He began to go down on me but I stopped him: “I don’t want to.”
That night, I didn’t know why I said no. I was an outspoken feminist who wanted to be pleasured as much as the next hormonally charged adolescent. And this was “just oral.” According to misinformed teenagers, “Oral sex isn’t actually sex.” That’s why it is an entire base before its penetrative partner, the “home run.” But lying in the back of Rob’s car with a seatbelt buckle pressing into my lower back, I had no interest in getting eaten out. We went out to eat instead. Thank God for the 24-hour diner.
My thoughts on oral sex have since evolved. I know my comfort level now. For me, oral sex is more intimate than intercourse. I view going down as one person sacrificing part (if not all) of their pleasure for their partner’s benefit. Let’s be honest, genitalia isn’t exactly the most appetizing course on the menu. I perform fellatio for my partner’s enjoyment. If I truly like the person, then knowing I made them happy makes me happy. It’s like giving a Christmas present to a friend and watching their face while they open it. (Cue Dick in a Box.)
In my world, oral sex reaches its peak intimacy when my partner goes down on me. My vagina is vulnerable. Inviting a guest for dinner takes a lot of courage. The most difficult part of being the recipient is knowing that it’s all about me. I have to let my guard down. It’s my turn to enjoy. This is harder than it sounds — I am an incessant people pleaser who, according to the tarot card reader I recently visited, fakes smiles for her companions. Sadly, smiles aren’t the only thing I fake.
I wish I had some brilliant oral moral to share. I don’t. I have been convinced into giving blowjobs by douchebag men who push my head towards their nether-region. I have swallowed under pressure. Hell, I even shaved everything just because a guy said that was the only way to make going down on someone “bearable.” The worst part about it is that I will probably continue to succumb to pressure. I am not proud of this, but I know myself well enough to admit the truth. I have trouble telling people “no.”
The one thing I have learned is that, when it comes to sexual acts, we all have our own comfort levels. Intimacy levels are determined by the individual, not society. In other words, there is no order of events. Sex isn’t baseball — it’s an interpretive dance.