Sugar we’re going down swinging!
There are many indications that oral stimulation has always been a part of sex, but it comes with a complicated history. One of the earliest references to oral sex can be found in ancient Egyptian mythology. Depictions of these acts were also found in ancient Greek baths, preserved by volcanic ash and discovered, after excavation, to have been on the walls. (1) Some cultures have considered it to be a sinful act in the past, and some still do, but here are some fun facts about the history of oral sex, and why it’s good for you and your partner. Oral Sex used to be Outlawed In medieval Europe, oral sex used to be forbidden, in addition to certain sexual positions. Although this does not mean that people always abided by this law, in the eyes of the government it was a punishable act. One medieval document on penance outlined that for fellatio, it was recommended that an offender serve 5 years in prison, yet only 4 for cunnilingus. (1) Even though the middle ages ended about 600 years ago, fellatio was considered a felony in almost every U.S. state until 1950. And in 2014, twelve states were still holding on to their anti-sodomy laws. (8)
Down to the Health Benefits
The effects that come from going down on your partner have begun to be investigated in recent years, with results pointing to one thing. Studies on both cunnilingus and fellatio suggest that there are many health benefits to gain from performing these acts. For a performer of fellatio, It’s been theorized that consuming semen can promote healthy skin, lower blood pressure, and even lower one’s risk for breast cancer. (2) For those performing cunnilingus, it’s been theorized that performing this act can contribute to the health of your gut bacteria. (3)
Say it with a kiss
Oral sex is sex, whether or not it’s accompanied by penetration or other sexual acts. But if you weren’t already doing it, here’s why you should: going down on your partner has been shown to promote the release of oxytocin and other happy neurotransmitters, that help bond you to your partner and keep you living a happier life altogether (2), (9). It’s also an opportunity to figure out more about your partner’s desires and what they like, which you can never learn too much about! In heteronormative sexual situations, studies have shown that less women receive oral sex than men, and that it’s usually done in a reciprocal manner, while men are more likely to receive it and not return the favor. (4), (5), (6), (8), (9)
A Rose by any other name
The term ‘blow job’ was popularized after it was used in the comic ‘Tijuana Bible’ in the 1940s. It’s made quite a name for itself outside of this though, with some references to oral sex being more common than others. Here are some modern and classic references you should feel free to take with you: ‘head’, ‘blowjob’ and ‘third base’ are more modern ways you’ll commonly hear oral sex referred to in today’s age. Some standouts from the past include ‘new old fashioned’, ‘bob on the knob’, and ‘whistling in the dark’, creative favorites for spicing things up. (7), (10) Going down on your partner is a time-honored tradition that many who came before us had to perform in secret, with the threat of jail, or a felony count. It’s good for you and for your relationship, and you have a variety of names to refer to it by. Half of the population with vulvas have historically not experienced this enough (9), so if your partner does too, you can be part of the change. If you haven’t done it before, now’s a great time to exercise your rights to whistle in the dark.