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A Blow Job From Me Is Not A Favor For You

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Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
This story was originally published on January 20th, 2016.

If you've escaped the classic blow job head push over the course of your sex life, you are a rare specimen — based on my data sample of straight women, at least. As I look back now, it’s sad that I ever let that shit slide. The signature move of dudes who want to get head and not use their big-boy words to ask for it, the blow job head push lets us know it’s time to go down (or go down further if we're already there), and even guys who are careful to get clear consent to intercourse are guilty of it.

“I would hate that move,” a friend tells me of the BJHP as we compare notes on our early years of giving oral. “Sometimes, I would resist by stiffening my neck and there was a little struggle. I didn’t like giving blow jobs, because it felt like this was one more thing for the guy. Blow jobs seemed like a relinquishing of power.”

"I gave them a ton when I was a teenager, because I wanted my boyfriend to like me — wrong reason — and convinced myself that I liked it; and then realized I didn't when I was in college,” my friend J shares. “It was like, ‘Look how sexy and cool and good at this I am,' and then, I got older and was like, 'This is starting to feel demeaning and weird.’"

The signature move of dudes who want to get head and not use their big-boy words to ask for it, the blow job head push lets us know it’s time to go down.

As J attests, blow jobs are often performative, and while that can be part of the fun, women are under pressure to get a standing O early on. The CDC reports that some teens have oral sex before vaginal to “maintain their virginity” while (subtext) maintaining their partners’ satisfaction. It was one of my motivations when I was a teen. If the guys I was with were getting off and staying happy, it didn’t matter that I wouldn’t “let” them have the real deal, right?

“Just the idea of 'keeping them happy’ makes me feel fairly queasy,” a sexually self-actualized friend groans when I explain this. And I agree with her — but that’s how many of us first experience giving head and how many guys first experience getting it: as a favor, an "act of kindness beyond what is due or usual," not a mutual act that could and should be pleasurable for all. Both men’s and women’s media and every dumb sitcom joke about a guy wanting nothing more than his dick sucked by his priggish girlfriend (and maybe a steak afterward) have depicted blow jobs as sexual currency. Men single-mindedly crave them while women reluctantly give, but only sometimes, the way you'd take out the trash or resign yourself to your partner's movie choice.
Of course, women’s opinions are mixed. Some truly love giving head. Some really don’t. When Alison Stevenson declared in Vice that she does not suck dick, ever, both male and female commenters exploded with outrage over her “selfishness.” If you find a partner whose preferences complement your own, as Stevenson wrote that she had, you’re golden, commenters be damned — but, as Stevenson also wrote, "I firmly believe this perceived selfishness is owed to me. This selfishness comes from many years of having sexual encounters with men who rarely ate me out. If they did, all but two or three of them never bothered to do it long enough for me to actually come.”

That’s shitty. That sucks. It's one thing when we don't enjoy giving oral because of the physical specifics of the act. It's another when we don't like it because both neither we nor our partners have ever seen it as a shared experience, one that involves communication and reciprocation in the form that the giver likes, and we never graduate from high school dynamics, with boys who drew their clearest ideas of sex from porn and believe they have to wheedle a BJ out of us to get it — because surely, we couldn't actually want to give it.
There are reams of tips out there to help women give head that "rocks his world": flick the frenulum, suck on an ice cube first, surprise him with a grapefruit, and for God’s sake, no teeth (or in the words of the person who received my first blow job, which are forever burned in my memory, "Less teeth, babe" — I guess he was being realistic). Here’s a tip for guys: If you want head, ask for it. If we’re up for it, tell us how you like it. Then, ask what you can do for us. There is no secret button on my head that turns me into a blow job vending machine, so stop pressing. And no, you are not being subtle when you start inching your waist upwards or hover your genitals near my face, as if all of a sudden, your junk will be between my lips and I’ll think, Oh, surprise party in my mouth, what fun!

Let's fix the blow job. Let's ditch the idea that it's a service, boycott the BJHP, and bow out of the power struggle. “Blow jobs became something more worth investing in after my boyfriend learned how to reciprocate, which didn't happen until the end of college,” J says. (Which reminds me, I’d like to commission a study of the average length of time between the first time a woman gives head and the first time she gets it.) “I was like, 'Oh okay, he likes doing this for me, and now I feel more comfortable and eager to enjoy doing it to him.'” That’s not a favor. That’s a connection.
The Bed Post is a series that explores what holds us back from sex and love with whom we want, when we want, where we want, and how we want — because we all deserve sex and love lives that are not only free of evils, but full of what is good. Follow me on Twitter at @hlmacmillen or email me at hayley.macmillen@refinery29 — I’d love to hear from you. Find all of The Bed Post right here.
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