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Sexy time: Mixed feelings about status of oral sex

Recently, I relocated from my treehouse in the forest and discovered startling news: People don’t consider oral sex as sex.

While sipping Starbucks with my friend Grace, we began a discussion about oral traditions, and I don’t mean storytelling. The idea of oral sex as a form of foreplay has been around for a while and has well-known supporters like our former president Bill Clinton, but could taking someone in your mouth be the same thing as a hug? Grace considers it “heavy petting.” It was as if going down on someone was like Frenchkissing Rizzo at the sock hop. Our mouths, which we use to talk, kiss and eat with, are extremely personal areas and our way of communicating with the world. Is oral sex really less intimate? Student opinions were mixed.

“Anything that goes down there, no pun intended, is sex,” said Jessica DeCastro, an English major. While oral sex involves the stimulation of another person, many students got stuck considering one thing: It’s not penetration.

“The word sex is in it, but it’s not sex,” said Evan Hamel. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to do it to a random person, but there needs to be some level of closeness.”

Perhaps our decision on whether or not oral sex is sex is based on our personal preferences. There are partners obsessed with oral sex. These are the people who always order twisty soft serve at Dairy Queen. Then, there are the partners who hate oral and expect a congratulations for it.

Oral sex “not counting” is a popular belief of many college students. “It’s not face-to-face and nobody wants to kiss after that” said Harley Simmonds. Another reality of oral sex which has led to it being taken as casual is the fact you don’t need a condom to perform.

“You put a condom on trying to be all sexy, and then you lick your fingers and it tastes terrible,” Simmonds said. Don’t let the spicy nacho and cotton candy labels fool you, flavored condoms are horrible. I used to blow them up at girl scouts and throw them at people. I learned about oral sex from my Girl Scout leader, a woman from the Bronx with an unhealthy fixation on bananas.

The first experience we have learning about oral sex shapes the way we experience it before we even perform the actual act. Oral sex has a rich history dating back to ancient Rome. Romans regarded oral as shameful as performers often had bad breathe and were not welcomed as guests to dinner. In other cultures, oral was seen as a healing and soul-fulfilling practice. Taoists in China believed that fellatio improved longevity. While in Australia, there is anthropolical evidence of aboriginals practicing cunninglingus. There are many positive health qualities regarding oral sex, including a lower rate of HIV transmission; however, many people believe that oral sex is unclean, especially women.

Women who are told that their worth is dependent on being an object of desire, may have guilt issues in both giving and receiving oral sex.

In my interviews with women, they had interesting responses.

“It’s less intimate because it only serves one person” said Keeley Carr. It can be exhausting.

A lot of women do not like receiving oral sex. Perhaps it’s a belief that we need to do something to make ourselves look better, while men just dive in.

“Girls care more about appearance. They have to make sure everything is perfectly manicured down there,” Alex Yorks said.

One anonymous woman said, “I only ever felt comfortable doing it with my ex-fiance.”

I believe that the reason many women find oral sex to be “weird” or “intense” is not the common belief that they “haven’t had it done right”. Women find oral sex intimate because stimulating the clitoris arouses them more than penetration. In missionary position, a woman can think about everything from what color she’s going to paint her toes to her yoga class, but when someone is going down on her, nothing else crosses her mind. It forces a woman to be vulnerable by having something so sensitive be touched by their partners.

Our mouths, our voices, are our ways of looking at the world. When we make a statement we don’t truly agree with, or feel anxiety, our throat twists like a tire swing. Oral sex could be seen as extremely intimate for some people or another display of affection for others. It all depends on what we believe and what speaks to our personal truths.

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