Cultural Conditioning No Excuse for Selfish Sex
November 8, 2012
Filed under OPINION
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So, I’ve been hooking up with this guy for a couple weeks and we recently had sex. The night starts off with me pleasing him orally but he doesn’t return the favor and things just lead straight to intercourse. I want him to go down on me but I don’t know how to suggest it. Should I just come right out and ask??
-Looking for Oral Lovin’
It’s a sad fact that in our society, penises and vaginas are hardly seen equally. Blowjobs are practically expected in heterosexual sex, but cunnilingus is seen as an extra, an option to be enjoyed only if the guy is into it.
This ain’t right.
In the last few weeks, I’ve taken a very liberal stance, claiming that everyone’s got a right to their own individual sexuality. This week, however, I need to complicate that. While everyone experiences sexuality differently, we also have a responsibility to ask ourselves why we feel the way we do. Because our sex-negative, sexist culture pervades our daily lives, sometimes “I don’t like this” can’t stand by itself. Sometimes you’ve got to challenge the things you think you don’t like. Straight guys, this means you have to stop being afraid of giving oral sex.
We’re all social beings. Our concepts of what is beautiful, sexy, perverted or gross don’t just spring up in a vacuum, but reflect the values of our society at large. Researchers Kenneth and Mamie Clark found in a 1940 experiment (recently replicated in 2006 with similar results) that when asked to pick the doll that “looked nice” between a white, blonde doll and a brown-skinned, black-haired doll, young African-American children clearly favored the white doll. We internalize our society’s values––and unfortunately, those values are biased as all hell.
Since we’re socialized to think primarily in terms of male pleasure, more often than not, it’s the guy in a heterosexual pairing who needs to pick up the slack. And given our sexist society’s disdain for vaginas, the guys who refuse to go down on women typically object because they find vaginas gross.
Straight dudes: I don’t give a damn if you think vaginas are gross. If your partner has already taken your genitals into her mouth and you aren’t willing to even give back to her, let alone volunteer to go down on her without any expectation of reciprocity, then you aren’t ready to be sexual. Taking an active interest in your partner’s pleasure is one of the fundamental responsibilities of being a sexual person. Good partnered sex involves making sure that everyone is satisfied. That doesn’t always mean strict equality––”you nibbled on my left nipple so I’ll nibble on yours”––but it does entail checking in and thinking about more than just your own personal satisfaction. And sometimes, this means trying something you think is gross.
Of course, nothing about this gives anyone the right to ignore a partner’s “no.” No means no. But if your partner refuses to do something that you want, that’s where good communication and negotiation comes in, as well as a good-hearted willingness to give new things a try.
LOL, I’d definitely recommend voicing your desires. Get the message out there. You can phrase it however you want––personally, I’m a fan of good verbs, and in this case, you’ve got a ton available to you: feel, lick, taste, suck, eat, kiss, nibble, just to name a few. It’s possible he’s only skipping going down on you because he’s not used to thinking about it––after all, society doesn’t make a big deal out of cunnilingus––and a reminder is all he’ll need. If it’s not getting through, he might be more entrenched in male sexual culture, in which case you need to be straight with him about your desires: “I want you to go down on me.”
If, after all that, he still refuses, you don’t owe him anything. Maybe you should call it off with him until he’s ready to be a sexual grown-up.