The Offensive Belief Keeping Men From Going Down On Women

Another day, another reminder that the oral sex playing field is still uneven: A recent study out of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, published in The Journal of Sex Research, reveals depressing differences in how straight men and straight women feel about giving and getting head. Led by sexuality researchers Ruth Lewis, PhD, and Cicely Marston, PhD, the study drew on group discussions and in-depth interviews with 37 women and 34 men from 16 to 18 years old in the U.K. One of the resounding themes: Participants of both genders considered oral sex performed on women a "far bigger deal" than oral sex performed on men. "Many young men’s accounts of the additional costliness of their giving oral sex to women (compared with the costs for women of giving to men) referred to vulvas negatively — as 'dirty,' 'disgusting,' 'nasty,' 'droopy,' 'messy,' 'saggy,' 'stinking,'" the study's authors write. As one 18-year-old man who participated in the study reported, "[If] a guy does it to a girl…boy, is his life over, because everyone knows about it." Excuse us while we go bang our heads against the wall. What's more, female participants expressed acute awareness of these anti-vag views and reported that fear of judgment hinders their enjoyment of receiving oral sex. Many women stated that it is "easier" for women than for men to give oral sex, as well as "easier" and more enjoyable for men than for women to receive it. "Women’s accounts of oral-vulva contact were dominated by talk about their anxieties about their vulvas being sensed (seen, smelled, tasted), judged, and discussed by men," the study's authors write. "The widely held belief that giving oral sex to women was unpleasant for men pervaded women’s narratives to such an extent that male partners perceived to be enthusiastic about oral-vulva contact were referred to as 'weird' or 'different.'" So not only are women too self-conscious about dudes' vagina prejudices to enjoy getting head, they're suspicious of men who enjoy giving it. It's a catch-69, and it's clear that when it comes to bedroom politics, we've got a lot of headway to make.

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