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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

Life December 28, 2013

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.

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