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Going Down in History: A Question about the Meaning of Oral Sex

Advice & How Tos, Life, Sex July 3, 2014

Asked by you, answered by Ava

 

Hey Ava, Is oral sex…sex?

 

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Ava’s note: For these purposes, we will be focusing on straight couples. The history of same-sex intimate relationships is too varied and interesting to fit into this article. For more information on the history of homosexuality through the ages, click here.

 

Like looking into a night sky full of stars, there is no end to this question. So where to start but at the beginning? Blow jobs have been around as long as history, and it was probably practiced before the written word, but we don’t have hard evidence—so to speak!—to prove it.

 

Kama SutraOne of the most important examples of the ancient art of going-down is from the myth of Isis and Osiris from Egypt. Osiris was killed by his brother and cut into pieces. Iris put his body back together but, the penis was missing. An artificial penis was made out of clay, and Iris “blew” life back into Osiris by sucking it. Many women still draw upon this act to ‘revive’ their men.

 

The Kama Sutra, the ancient religious text of the Hindus, breaks ‘mouth congress’ down into 8 distinct actions including ‘biting’, ‘kissing’, and ‘sucking a mango fruit.’ Similarly, in Chinese Taoism it has been aligned with longevity and the retaining of chi in spiritual practices. In Ancient Rome, however, sex was considered more of a power play between a dominant person and a passive person. Oral sex on a man was a big no-no—especially for two men—because it implied penetration in a way that was considered humiliating, even more so than anal sex.

 

For the ladies, however, it was much more covert. There are not as many mentions of pleasing women in this way, but the Kama Sutra does give some steamy instructions on how to give ‘the quivering kiss.’  And Taoism held it in high esteem, saying that it was a way to reclaim primordial chi from a time when the sexes were not separated. In Western society, the earliest depiction of cunnilingus actually comes from the Bible.

 

Detail_of_Édouard-Henri_Avril_(23)

How beautiful your sandaled feet,

O prince’s daughter!

Your graceful legs are like jewels,

the work of a craftsman’s hands.

Your navel is a rounded goblet

that never lacks blended wine.

Your waist is a mound of wheat

encircled by lilies.

–Song of Solomon 7:1-2

 

It is interpreted that her ‘blended wine’ that lives in her naval actually comes from between her ‘graceful legs.’ How ironic then, that the idea that oral stimulation began to take a turn down a dark path because of religious beliefs. As Annie Auguste notes in her article, The History of Fellatio,

 

“As recently as the 19th century, sexual pleasure and any relation that didn’t lead directly to procreation — even within the structure of a traditional marriage — were mortal sins. So fellatio was, and remains to some extent, a taboo.”

 

Because of this idea that sex is something done for procreation, and oral is outside of a normal sex life, it can be considered a superficial act—a viewpoint comes in most handy if you are worried about your number of sexual partners. While oral sex can be just as intimate as traditional PIV sex, if it is considered separate, it can be a safe place for play without the pressures and emotional connotations of intercourse.

 

So is oral sex….sex? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

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It depends on your and your partner, and on the emotional importance you put on the act. If you don’t want it to have the importance in your sexual repertoire as intercourse, then it doesn’t have to. It can free you up to engage and experiment, without putting emotional baggage on the act. As long as you and the person you engage with are aware of the stakes, there is no reason to give it more prominence than a good time had by all.

 

Likewise, oral can be a gift you give someone. It can be intimate and special, mostly because you can communicate through that act how you feel for a person. Plus, it can be enjoyable for the giver as well, to share in this moment with someone is truly bonding. This makes it sex in the most solid definition—an act to give and receive pleasure with someone you care about.

But do not delude yourself—anything sexual can have consequences, and if your partner considers oral to be sex, then you take that into consideration before you engage in what could have drastically different perceptions for both of you.

 

Happy mango sucking!

 

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Got a question for Ava? Email her at askava@liberator.com

 

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Out and About in History: A Look at Homosexuality Throughout the Ages

Love, Sex June 6, 2014

Wherever you fall on the sexual orientation spectrum, most of us know that June is a time of celebration for gays, lesbians, and everyone in between—and for good reason. Even before President Clinton made it official on June 2, 2000, Pride Month has become internationally acknowledged over the years as the GLBT community has taken some amazing strides towards equality

 

Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go, and mainstream acceptance of non-straight folks is still insanely recent. The American Psychiatric Association counted it as a mental disorder until the seventies, and it wasn’t until the nineties that some governments started to decide being gay wasn’t really a crime after all—yeah, the nineties. Sodomy laws in the US weren’t even tossed out until 2003. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

 

Progress is definitely happening, but considering how long homosexuality has existed in society, you’d think, by now, the whole two-dudes-kissing thing would cause a little less drama. Plenty of factors have tried to suppress it—like government, religion, and times when making lots of babies was really important—but the truth is, it’s been around forever, and it’s not going anywhere.

 

In the wake of the last few decades, it’s easy to forget that homosexuality is nothing new—it’s just been really well hidden, until more and more brave people took it upon themselves to stand up and say, “Screw that.” In fact, evidence goes back as far as the mesolithic and neolithic eras, where homosexual depictions in rock art and figurines gave us a pretty good idea what our ancestors were up to. Apparently, gay cavemen were a thing.

 

The ancient Greeks and Romans were no strangers to same-sex love, either. Ever wonder where the word lesbian came from? That would be the island of Lesbos, the home of famous bisexual poet Sappho. Certain types of gay relationships were a pretty normal part of the Greek and Roman cultures for a good while, mostly between young men and their older mentors. Jump ahead a few centuries and you get Shakespeare, who was eventually outed by his sonnets (and Gandalf). Oscar Wilde wasn’t as clandestine with his sexuality, and we know how that turned out.

 

Every part of history has had its share of people who didn’t give a shit about convention, and humans don’t even have the monopoly on it. According to Yale, over 450 animal species are known to exhibit homosexual traits, and that’s only the ones we know about. A lot of people have heard about the penguins, but scientists have also observed the behavior in tons of others including lizards, birds, and even dragonflies.

 

While homosexuality may be old news, the fight for gay rights is still pretty fresh. The Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 really kicked things off, when police raided an underground gay bar in New York City called the Stonewall Inn. The riots lasted for days, becoming the catalyst for the equality movement we’re still fighting for today. The first Pride Parade happened just one year later, and today they’re held every year in hundreds of cities across the world.

 

Gay or straight, we’ve got more sexual freedom now than any generation ever had before us. This month is a great time to honor that no matter what our preferences, and to show our support for those who still have a lot to fight for. Stay strong and celebrate who you are!

 

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2013: This Year in Sex

Art, Fashion, Film, Life, Music, Photography December 28, 2013

As the year winds down, we at Liberator took a moment to reflect on the past year—and it was a doozy. From twerking to Tindering, 2013 ushered in new ways to talk about, look at, and experience sex. We celebrated as marriages were made legal, media explored sexual ideas and depths, and the world as a whole began conversing about sex in open and exciting ways. Take a look back with us at some of the highlights of the year, from Miley to Measure B, and join us in our goal to make 2014 an even more sex-positive year.

LOVE IS LOVE, NOW PROVEN IN COURT

Love and equality were celebrated internationally as same-sex marriage became legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as sixteen countries. In addition, DOMA was struck down, Prop 8 was repelled, and the President used the phrase “our gay brothers and sisters” in his inaugural address.

POLITICIANS CONTINUE TO THINK WITH THEIR OTHER HEADS

Taking the idea that if ‘you’ve got it, flaunt it’ too far yet again, Anthony Weiner found himself at the center of another sexting scandal, which would eventually cost him the race for Mayor of New York.

A SENATOR FROM TEXAS AND HER TENNIS SHOES MAKE HISTORY

On June 25, 2013, Wendy Davis held an eleven hour long filibuster to block Senate Bill 5, legislation that would create new abortion regulations in Texas. The filibuster played a major role in Senate Democrats’ efforts to delay passage of the bill beyond the midnight deadline for the end of the legislative session. In October of that year, she announced she would run for Governor of Texas in the 2014 election.

THE POPE TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF

Pope Francis commented that the Catholic Church is obsessed with abortion, same-sex marriage, and birth control, stating that “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” and that the church should focus on other issues, such as helping the sick and impoverished.

GERMANY EMBRACES THE MIDDLE SEX

Germany offered a third gender option for birth certificates. Now parents can option for the term “intersex” to describe those children who are born of physically indeterminate gender.

THOSE WITH SEX TAPES CAN BREATH EASIER

California passed a law making “revenge porn” illegal, which is when an angry ex posts nude pictures on the internet for the purpose of public shaming.

HIV SCARE SHOCKS THE PORN INDUSTRY

The porn industry was shut down three times this year, once due to an actor lying about testing positive for syphilis that caused a three week halt on all production, and twice more after four actors tested positive for HIV during routine screenings.

LESBIANS ARE THE NEW BLACK

Netflix’s original series “Orange is the New Black” also gave viewers lesbian sex to talk about, adding steamy drama and shower scenes to America’s queues.

SAFE SEX BECAME SEXIER

“Measure B,” a Los Angeles county ordinance “requiring producers of adult films to obtain a County public health permit” and for “adult film performers to use condoms while engaged in sex acts” was put into effect this year, much to the chagrin of of those in the porn industry.

LIBRARIES MAKE US HOT, TOO

The UK has decided that all ISPs must deploy opt-in pornography filters, so that children are not by chance or mishap exposed to “legal hardcore porn” in the words of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. However, the filters have had disastrous results, including blocking the websites of the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and several websites of Parliment members and politicians. The actual websites featuring porn, however, have found a way to get through, and a third-party extension has already been released for Chrome that disable the filter, appropriately named “Go Away Cameron.”

SEX EDUCATION GETS AN ADVOCATE

Elizabeth Smart published her memoir “My Story” and has come out against abstinence-only sex education, saying that she was taught that having sex made you a “chewed-up piece of gum” and that “nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth.”

BIGFOOT GETS NO LOVE

Amazon takes a stand against “monster porn,” sending such titles as Cum For Bigfoot and Milked by Aliens back to “draft mode” within their online self-publishing platform until the books met certain content guidelines.

BUT THAT T-REX IS LOOKING PRETTY GOOD

In the realm of disturbing fiction, dinosaur erotica hit shelves without a hint of irony.

BLUE IS ALSO THE HOTTEST COLOR

The film Blue Is the Warmest Color, starringAdèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, made headline news with its extended lesbian love scenes and revelations of on-set drama. Graphic novelist Julie Maroh, whose book the film is based on, was blunt in her denouncement: “It appears to me this was what was missing on the set: lesbians.”

FOR SCIENCE!

Showtime’sMasters of Sexmade the lives and research of the pioneering William Masters and Virginia Johnson duo into prime-time viewing. Their research into human sexuality opened up the dialog for frank discussions on what goes on in the bedroom.

PORN ACTOR GOES MAINSTREAM

Lindsay Lohan and porn actor James Deen starred together in The Canyons, an erotic thriller-drama film directed by Paul Schrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis. The result was not well-received, but Lohan did receive some praise from critics for her performance.

CHRISTIAN GREY COMES TO LIFE

FIfty Shades of Grey started filming, after an unceremonious cast-change of the leading man. Housewives everywhere rejoiced.

WOMEN’S MASTERBATION STILL TOO MUCH FOR TV

Reign, a CW drama about the rise to power of Mary Queen of Scots, cut out a scene depicting female masturbation because it was considered too scandalous.

TEEN MOM BECOMES PORN MOM

Farrah Abraham, reality TV star of Teen Mom, released the porn Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom, shot with James Deen. Abraham tried to pretend the video was leaked and that she’s been dating Deen, but the lie was quickly squelched.

THE LEGEND LIVES

Ron Jeremy, an adult film actor ranked by AVN at number one in their “The 50 Top Porn Stars of All Time” list, suffered an aneurysm near his heart and underwent an operation that nearly killed him.

MAKING FRIENDS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

2013 saw a slew of hookup apps, like Tinder and Pure, which allow users to connect with and chat up potential partners who also have the app in their area. Down, which changed its name from Bang With Friends after a trademark dispute with Zynga, managed to secure $1 million in funding. Spreadsheets claim it’ll help you measure your sex life, but what it really measures is how loud you are in bed.

NUDE PICS SURFACE FOR YET ANOTHER DISNEY STAR

Former Disney Channel star Dylan Sprouse had nude photos of himself leaked onto the internet by a third party. Rather than denying the photos, he admitted publicly that he made a mistake in trusting this third party and joked that he was getting the nudes on a T-shirt for himself.

KEEP IT ON THE FIELD, PLAYER

AJ McCarron played an impressive game at the BCS championship in January, but it was his girlfriend, Katherine Webb, that got all the attention. ESPN announcer Brent Musburger was criticized for his on-air fawning over Webb after he called her a “beautiful woman” when the cameras focused on her on in the stands.

2013: THE YEAR OF THE TWERK

And, of course, Miley Cyrus twerked and wrecked her way through the year, creating a new image for herself and causing a nationwide discussion about slut-shaming.

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