aside Cunnilingus Confession: I Don’t Know What I Like

A little article about one of my least favorite personal battles. 
Author’s Note: I use the term “women” where I could have chosen to use the term “vagina-owners” in a lot of this piece. I did this because I think the shame that I personally feel around oral sex is linked to my identity as a woman, as well as vagina shame. My personal story informed my choice, but it is by no means representative of all vagina-owners!

I’m standing in the middle of my local Good Vibrations sex shop looking for a new lube when I stop and see a book called Blow Each Other Away: A Couples’ Guide to Sensational Oral Sex. I pause. Pick it up. And proceed to have a familiar identity crisis.

blow eachotherThis isn’t the first time I’ve picked up an oral sex self-help book and it probably won’t be the last. A fortified wall of personal denial and shame stands in between me and this purchase. Not because of blow jobs. I love talking about, learning about, and giving blow jobs. Fellatio doesn’t scare me. Cunnilingus, however, paralyzes me, (and not in a good way).

Here is a secret I hate admitting to even myself: I am woefully inept at talking to partners about what I like when they go down on me. So if I don’t have a partner that loves–and knows how to–crack my back, I never have the language to keep pussy eating on the sex menu. And this pretty much makes me feel like a big ol’ hypocrite. I literally have a Lick My Clit playlist curated (for your listening pleasure), but can’t even say those words out loud in my own life.

When partners have asked me about what I like (or rather, how they can be better) I have the same canned response: “Well, you know 80% of good oral is attitude.” It’s my own quirky way of saying I don’t actually know what I like, so I’m just gonna kinda blame it on your personal attitudes towards my vag. Regardless of me using this as a personal defense mechanism, there is some truth to it. I find it impossible to enjoy myself if I know my partner views oral sex as a “favor.” I feel bad for them. I would much rather cut cunnilingus out of sex than ask my less-than-willing partner to bear through even five minutes of eating the peach. I know that this guilt stems from my own internalized shame about my body. I’ve come across several research articles on the “oral sex gap.” Many of them discuss how women are much more likely to go down on men; in fact, women are expected to. Oral sex on vagina-owners is generally seen as “a bigger deal.” The same study also found that when women didn’t want to receive oral sex, it was because they had negative perceptions of their own genitals – *shocker* taking into considering how we either erase or shit on vaginas across sex education, media, & general sex negative culture. If you’d like your blood to boil, please refer to this lovely Broadly article where some men “bravely” shared their reasons for not giving face. A highlight: “I don’t find vaginas really appealing. I like the female body a lot, but the genitalia itself—I find it not attractive.” You don’t find vaginas “appealing?” Get out of here.

Let me be clear: I shouldn’t feel disgusted for having a vagina. I shouldn’t have to feel like I need to apologize for the quirks of my hoo-ha. I shouldn’t have to silence myself because our sex-negative culture has continually kept my body in the dark. I didn’t have to read that Broadly article to know why many men don’t like cunnilingus–I already knew from the silence and shame that has followed my body since puberty. When we talk about vaginas, we talk about them like they are scary, foreign, (and more often than not) disgusting. I mean, hell, even seeing a vagina outside of porn is RARE. How are we even supposed to learn how to eat out a vagina properly, right?

Going down on a woman isn’t a “sacrifice” or a “favor.” And in my heart I know that is true. But when you have been told over and over again throughout your life in small and large ways that your pleasure is less important and your genitals come with shameful baggage, those thoughts bake in. Our shame, silence, and disgust with vaginas infects our sexual experiences and sets up pleasure inequalities that are perpetuated by not just penis owners, but vagina owners, too. I don’t need another reminder that my pleasure isn’t worth figuring out. Every time someone goes down on me, I have to fight these narratives.

Usually, when I have a partner who just doesn’t quite do it for me, they have also expressed to me they don’t really like going down on me. This isn’t (usually) vicious! It’s not because they are vagina-shame crusaders. Sometimes it is because they don’t know what to do. Or they have been shamed by previous partners. Or they are just afraid of failure. Which is why this year I almost paid for an online seminar on Cunnilingus 101, not because I plan on eating some pussy anytime soon (just not in my personal cards), but because I am simply unable to advise any partner on what I want. I’m not proud that I have said: “Wow, I have no idea what you are doing, but I love it” countless times in sexual encounters. Shouldn’t I know what they are doing? Shouldn’t I know what I like? Sex is collaborative–a shared responsibility. And honestly, I’m not pulling my weight. 

So yes, vagina shame is terrible, but I also recognize that I don’t take control of my own pleasure. I want to know what to say when someone asks me for tips. I want to help my partners grow and learn with me. I can’t just claim “attitude is everything,” throw my hands up in the air, and push everything back on my partner. I gotta practice what I preach. I have to want to expand my own vagina & pleasure literacy if I am going to expect it of my partners. I’ve always been afraid to learn more about my body & about how I should be pleasured. This is because I put myself on the backburner and shame myself for not knowing everything about my pleasure already. Fuck that, ya’ll. My pleasure is worth taking ownership of, and YOUR pleasure is worth taking ownership of if you struggle with this same situation.

I ended up buying the oral sex self-help book. I still haven’t read it. I still haven’t applied it, but I am so (apprehensively?) excited to face my fears and tackle my own cunnilingus hang-ups so that I can say, “Hey, it feels really great when you ______” and actually have something constructive to put in that blank. Language is powerful in any context. If we feel that we aren’t naturally equipped with the words to make our pleasure a reality, then we better read up. I’ll check back in with you after I read this book that will challenge me and scare the shit out of me, but hopefully give me some killer orgasms.

er6tteh

Other oral sex recommendations:Check out Nina Hartley’s Guide to Better Cunnilingus, Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Oral Sex, or Going Down: The Official Guide to Cunnilingus. There are also tons of books, like The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus by Violet Blue and She Comes First by Ian Kerner

One comment

  1. It’s so hard to be a sex positive/empowered femme, but not feel like you have the tools to get what you want, and it also seems like most guys don’t go out of their way to learn. You might try the book “She Comes First,” which has a lot of good technical advice though I disagree with many of the author’s opinions.

    Liked by 2 people

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