So, I used to analyze porn. I watched porn just to see what was at play when people watched it. This arose, in part, to my own dissatisfaction with the porn I found. The lesbian and bisexual porn didn’t reflect anything I have experienced in my own life. It was full of weird angles and money shots that left me feeling strange. Manufactured. I realized, of course, that most porn wasn’t made for me. I’m female, bisexual, have dated (but not fethisized) people of different races, etc.
As a result of my former research on porn, I have a hard time imagining some positions as submissive and some as dominant, some as degrading, some as not degrading. To me, unlike other people, who apparently attach great importance on such things, sex acts are sex acts, plain and simple.
But I like to know how most people, men and women, view such acts. So I came across this piece today about fellatio. It’s a response to an article in Esquire that claims fellatio is out of fashion.
[S]exuality research suggests that what we might call the phenomenology of oral sex–the meaning of the act from the point of view of the actor–is not in the least symmetrical. When straight men describe their experiences with oral sex, they talk about power. This holds whether receiving fellatio: “I feel so powerful when I see her kneeling in front of me,” or performing cunnilingus: “Being able to get her off with my tongue makes me feel so powerful.” Heterosexual men tend to experience the giving and receiving of oral sex as an expression of their power. By contrast, straight women perceive both giving and receiving oral sex from the position of powerlessness–not necessarily because they are forced into these acts, but because “it makes him happy” to receive oral sex andto perform it. So oral sex, like intercourse, allows him to feel “like a man,” regardless of who does what to whom.
This old, sexist model offered a tidy symmetry: He felt powerful whether or not he was giving or receiving, and she felt pretty powerless whether she was giving or receiving. Fellatio was sort of a gift women gave to men–and so much the better if the gift needn’t be reciprocated. […]
Consider these tidbits: Contemporary heterosexual porn certainly makes it evident that men like oral sex, but the thing they seem to like even more is coming on the woman’s face. They assume–rightly in most cases (though certainly not all)–that women’s sexual pleasure is not addressed by ejaculating on their faces. Indeed, it’s seen as a form of humiliation, of punishment, as many of the variations on the practice in porn might suggest. (And let’s be clear: Those same men who profess not to like fellatio anymore are watching facials in great number.) […]
Could the real story be that heterosexual men are primed to like fellatio as long as women don’t?
If that’s true, then perhaps the current moment gives us an opportunity to rethink what sex means to us as straight men. Can we both conquer and surrender to pleasure? Or can we dispense with martial metaphors (conquest and surrender) entirely, and simply pleasure and be pleasured? In other words, can heterosexual men embrace the liberatory promise of queer sex–the freeing of sexual pleasure from gender inequality?