Elena Scotti/FUSION

In one of my most hilarious home videos, my mother, brother and I are playing outside in the backyard on a summer day. I’m about five or six years old, and dragging around an oversized plastic baseball bat. There’s a moment when my mom swings the camera from my brother to me and says, “Honey, what are you doing?” And what I’m doing, of my own spontaneous volition, is trying to fit my mouth around the bat, handle first. It’s a fantastic indicator of great (adult!) things to come.

Are eager cocksuckers born or made? To take mainstream culture’s word for it, they’re neither, because they may not actually exist. At a time when women are cheerleaded into masturbating more often, achieving eight types of orgasm during penis-in-vagina sex, and insisting on receiving head, the potential joy of giving blowjobs has been somewhat neglected. True, the blowjob has made a complete 180 from its 1960s status as a criminalized, outlying perversity. And from boutique sex shops to women’s magazines to sex manuals, there’s a plethora of sources with tips on how to suck cock better. So BJs are now a “standard,” mostly legal sex act. They’re expected.

Advertisement

But that doesn’t mean they’re expected to be relished.

🍌💋🍌

Advertisement

Doubt about women’s enthusiasm for blowjobs is a symptom of our culture’s tendency to doubt much of what women say about their sexual experiences. As Lux Alptraum writes, “When it comes to sex, women just can’t be trusted.” Whether she’s talking about orgasms, ejaculations, how much she likes receiving oral sex, or how much she likes giving it, a woman is often assumed to be intentionally lying or else saddled with an internalized, sexist confusion about her own body and its responses. She might think she enjoys sex act X, but it’s because she’s been closed off from avenues of true pleasure. (See also: enjoyment of facials.)

Advertisement

I’ve liked giving blowjobs for almost two decades. Since my very first one, going down on a dick felt like a complete sexual experience to me: not foreplay, and definitely not some type of bargaining chip in a one-for-one trade. That stems from the fact that giving a blowjob is reliably more arousing and more sexually satisfying for me than is vaginal sex, though I like both and often want one to follow the other.

The women I’ve met who love giving blowjobs tend to really love giving blowjobs—like, with a passion that matches some people’s enthusiasm for Pokemon Go or Game of Thrones. They’re blowjob geeks, and some of them were kind enough to talk with me about what it is that makes cocksucking such a thrill. Almost everyone cited the intoxicating power involved in having their teeth next to another person’s genitals. Likewise, most shared a sense of being accomplished and sexually skilled when they offered up well-received head. For some, there’s nothing especially complicated or poetic about it: Giving a blowjob is simply hot, and one of the fastest ways to rev up their own arousal.

But other BJ lovers I spoke to centered the uniquely tender transcendance cocksucking allows.  Gretchen*, 27, described her first blowjob as a “greedy, messy, transfiguring experience” that left her “dreaming about it for months afterward” while Gabi, 19, mentioned a quiet, powerful moment of becoming aware of her partner’s breathing and “feeling something stir inside me because of it.”

Advertisement

Greater sensitivity to a partner’s non-verbal feedback is one of the most exciting aspects of mouth-to-cock interaction. Natalie, 32, said blowjobs help her “read the man's pleasure better than any other way. Hands are less sensitive, and intercourse is too compromised by my own experience.” This was echoed by Emily, 40: “It's sexy to be able to listen to and react to someone's reactions and feedback, which when you're fucking it's sometimes harder to focus on that.”

Then there’s the paradoxical sense of being not only deeply connected to your partner, but connected to yourself as well. You’re interacting with someone’s body in an extremely intimate way, yet you’re exempt from having to speak to them, and their face is relatively far from yours—a perfect opportunity to get lost in your own sensations. Because of these factors, Gretchen’s first blowjob was “the first time I felt like my body and sexuality really belonged to me.” Natalie went even further:

I have this feeling…that I'm sort of doing it to myself? Or rather, it's very easy to mentally/physically empathize with the person on the receiving end, because I feel every tiny physical shift.

All of this is to say that the joy of the blowjob is just as much mental as it is mechanical. “Direct genital stimulation is not always what’s most sexually pleasing,” Alex said, “[both] in the moment and in the long run.” Dina, 32, was just as emphatic: “There's seldom a time I'm rubbing one out and DON'T think about blowjobs. A sex act is just as valuable if it helps to get you turned on and aids your solo orgasms, even if it's not going to make you come when you're doing it.”

Advertisement

🍌💋🍌

Advertisement

It’s sad that nuances like these aren’t part of how we talk about sex acts in public. We can’t even admit cocksucking might legitimately be a good time for both parties—though it would expand women’s sexual universes considerably if we did. Among the other many upsides of blowjobs is that there’s no risk of pregnancy, and they can help conserve a woman’s energy and preserve her boundaries while still providing the connection more associated with other penetrative sex. Emily referenced the “utility blowjob” as a convenient way to satisfy her partner when she’s not particularly horny, and Zinaida, 25, called it a “lifesaver” for times when she wanted to get her partner off but wasn’t up for intercourse.

For other women—myself included—simply beginning a blowjob is an effective way to get in the mood for more. Natalie, who favored blowjobs at a time when she was less comfortable with vaginal sex, credits them with helping her “be more present, feel safer, and more comfortable” with new partners.

Advertisement

And yet since the 1970s classic Deep Throat, the idea of a woman actually getting off on getting head has remained something of a punchline.

“I can’t remember the last time I saw bjs discussed or portrayed as something women like,” observes Zinaida. In mainstream media, it’s a rarity if not a complete invisibility. During the the Clinton presidency's Monica Lewinsky scandal, the general consensus was that the blowjob element enhanced the affair’s disgracefulness. Lewinsky, savaged in the media, was seen as shameless, slutty, and pathetic. Famously, a panel that included ostensibly feminist, culturally established women criticized her looks, her intelligence, suggested her future career could be “rent[ing] her mouth out,” and speculated on whether she spit or swallowed. (Turns out there was nuance to these blowjobs, too. At one point the president stopped Lewinsky, and when she said she wanted to “complete” what she’d been doing, he replied he needed to trust her more first.)

Elena Scotti/FUSION

Meanwhile, in straight porn, fellatio is regularly depicted as a tool of degradation or domination instead of an erotic experience for the giver. A female character might desperately want to do it because of her all-consuming dick lust, but that same nymphomania is what leaves her so vulnerable to such degradation. So while Alex, 29, says her porn habits “are almost exclusively blowjob related,” that usually means watching “men giving other men blowjobs because both parties seems to enjoy it a hell of a lot more than in hetero porn.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Because as much as we’re encouraged to be DTF, blowjobs are still considered a means for a woman to service a man. Several women I spoke with steered clear of talking cock-shop with friends. As Gabi put it, gossiping about blowjobs feels “taboo, too inappropriate, even with people you share your sex stories with!” My first conversation about blowjobs occurred when my best friend expressed complete revulsion at the idea, and said she’d sooner lose her p-in-v virginity than ever put her mouth to a dick. I can’t remember if I fessed up to thinking it didn’t sound that bad, but I know her vehemence considerably outshone my tentative curiosity.

This tacit censure comes as much—if not more so—from cishet men as it does other women. Gretchen once had a man respond to her blowjob positivity with an accusation that “I was just desperate to get fucked, that I'd say anything to lure someone into sleeping with me.” Hanna, 26, adds, “So many men just seem totally unable to comprehend that a woman might actually derive satisfaction from sucking dick.” Her Craigslist posts about wanting to suck a guy off and leave are almost always immediately flagged and deleted, presumed to be spam or otherwise disingenuous. Dina, a fellow lover of “blow-and-go” hookups, laments that while a guy who wants only to go down on a girl and leave “would be considered the wokest bae in the land,” a woman who wants to do the same to a man is a near-inconceivability.

Advertisement

Sometimes it’s less a matter of disbelief than of old-fashioned sexist stigma. Juliana, 25, told me, “a guy I was hooking up with called me a ‘disgusting slut’ for sending him a text at the party we were both at saying that all I wanted to do was to take him upstairs and suck his dick.” If a guy doesn’t believe it’s possible for a women to enjoy going down on him, he’s going to think she’s doing it just for him and perhaps even that she doesn't “respect herself” enough to advocate for her own orgasm. This is what Dina picks up on from men when she notices that sometimes “there's a glint in their eye that makes me feel like they think they're getting away with something.”

During a recent podcast on cocksucking, Tina Horn and merritt k ruminated on why “cocksucker” is an insult. merritt positioned this as a hallmark of (straight) male sexuality, in which men “make the things they want disgusting.” Gretchen talked about seeing a man’s eagerness diminish as hers became apparent, which gave her the impression that for many men, if a blowjob isn’t “inflicted,” it’s not as appealing. “I think some men are uncomfortable with having their dicks treated as objects of desire,” she said. “As things that can be used not just for their own pleasure but for someone else's.” Hanna is especially eloquent about how the gendered state of things threaten to poison pleasure. When reflecting on how her love of cocksucking might be seen as “brainwashing by the patriarchy” she said:

Would I be as into giving head in a world where men didn't have power over me? Maybe not, but that's not the world we live in. [And] I'm all for interrogating our desires but I don't know that I believe there are 'more real' ones beneath the layer of those shaped by culture.

Blowjobs don’t carry the promise of mutual orgasm the way penis-in-vagina sex (fraudulently) has for years, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t often done with delight. Cocksucking can make women feel powerful during sex, help them maintain their boundaries, and turn them on—a lot. Which means we’re well overdue for rejecting the assumption that, by definition, it’s a lowkey disgusting and inconvenient demand men make on unwilling women. I, and all the women quoted here are proof that plenty of blowjobs happen for the benefit of the giver just as much as the receiver. As Alex replied when her boyfriend asked, "What about you, though?" while she went down on him: “This is for me.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

*All women quoted in this article either requested a pseudonym or used a nickname.

Charlotte Shane has written for Matter, Pacific Standard, The Verge, and is the author of Prostitute Laundry.