Claremont Climax: October 23, 2009

Oral sex, according to former American President and my close personal friend Bill Clinton, is not really sex. Regardless of how you feel about this particular perspective, it’s clear that there is a great deal of difference in how people view oral sex versus vaginal intercourse.Over my years of researching, thinking about, and even occasionally having sex, I have noted that women often seem more inclined to give oral sex than engage in penetration with a new partner. I find this more than a little puzzling; I don’t believe penises are particularly delicious (though admittedly I have never taste-tested one, and I’m sure scientists everywhere have gone to great lengths to discover methods of making penises and vaginas tastier, from topical treatments to genetic modification). Further, intercourse gives you double the pleasure and double the fun (Doublemint Gum paid me $20 to say that), so why would a girl opt for oral?I asked this question to various females around campus, and the ones that weren’t awestruck into speechlessness by my astonishing beauty (and not to mention my great modesty, which people tell me is my best quality) informed me that intercourse is more of a commitment: women only prefer to have oral sex with guys they haven’t had intercourse with before. Once the cat is out of the bag, the cat prefers vaginal penetration.The fact that a woman is “giving more up” when she has penetrational sex was widely agreed upon by most students, though it seems to me that this is primarily a social construct. When someone asks you how many people you’ve had sex with, you’re unlikely to include in that number people with whom you’ve had only oral sex. Generally, penetration is a bigger deal than oral. Why is this the case? I posed this question my good friend Gina Lee, who is absolutely not an authority on the matter, but whose response was at least interesting. (It should be duly noted that entertainment trumps accuracy here, though I am infallible and therefore never inaccurate, particularly when I remind you that my modesty remains my best quality, even above my infallibility).Gina thinks that evolutionary psychology explains women’s attitudes towards penetration with new partners: a woman 40,000 years ago would only have sex with a man if she were at least somewhat confident he was going to stick around to help raise the child. Therefore it might be genetically hard-wired into women’s brains (rather than a social construct) that intercourse is more of a commitment than oral sex, even though strictly speaking that isn’t the case today.When I asked men how they felt about giving and receiving oral sex versus penetrational sex, I received a wide array of responses. First, they generally prefer penetration to either giving or receiving oral sex, though there are some important anxieties here. During intercourse, men are expected to perform, and if the sex is bad it’s almost always the male who gets the blame. I’m not sure if this is fair, but it does seem to be the case: you hear complaints about guys having small penises far more often than you hear complaints about women with oversized vaginas, even though it seems like they’re basically two sides of the same coin. (Now that I think about it, that might just be because measuring vaginal volume presents practical difficulties and would probably require a graduated cylinder or something of that nature).On the other hand, receiving oral sex is very low-pressure; you can just sit back, relax, have a beer, play videogames, do your taxes, etc. (Note: if you have actually played video games or filed a tax return while receiving oral sex, you are an excellent multi-tasker.) So it makes sense that some people prefer receiving oral sex. That being said, some of the female students I interviewed indicated that though they were more physically stimulated when receiving oral sex, they found the experience awkward and had trouble relaxing.I don’t think I can fix that particular problem in this column, but there is one issue that I think can be resolved here and now: Some women complained that they felt demeaned when giving oral sex, and even more so when having sex doggy style, even though they found that position physically stimulating. It seems to me that doggy style is only considered demeaning because we named it after dogs—but plenty of animals have sex that way. So I propose that we rename the position Bunny Style, because bunnies have sex that way just like dogs do, but if we call it Bunny Style women will be far more down to do it.

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