A word to make guys go weak at the knees... and some girls to go weak in the stomach. A look at the cultural and societal background to the power of seven little letters.
“Swallow.” It’s one of the most provocative words in the erotic lexicon. It’s one of the most electrifying, and also one of the most unique. I cannot think of a single other word that defines a sexual act that does not have a plethora of alternate slang terms, any and all of which are just gagging to be used. “Swallow,” though - it says it all. Even those other phrases that are sometimes used as substitutes, “gulped” and “glugged” and so on and so forth, that is all they are: substitutes, hanging around on the sidelines, waiting for someone to let them play.
All of which is fitting, because “swallow” is also one of the most divisive acts around. Those who love it love it. Those who hate it hate it. That’s normal. But then there’s everyone else. Because, for every girl (or gay guy, let’s not forget) who will happily down their partner’s pleasure in one, there are probably a dozen more who have never even tried it, but who “know” they will hate it regardless.
Or who caught a mouthful by accident one night, and before they could even make their own mind up, were being battered and bewildered by their partner’s response.
“Oh my God, I’m sorry, so sorry. I can’t believe... oh yuk, in your mouth....”
And even the mildest hint of cautious curiosity is spat out onto the nearest Kleenex, never to be sampled again. After all, if it’s so bad that even its owner thinks it’s icky, why would anyone else want to sample the stuff?
Let’s not get into the health and “how to’s” of the subject. Assuming your partner is healthy and clean, there are no harmful aspects to his cum. Assuming he consumes a reasonable diet, and doesn’t live exclusively on fast food and beer, there’s no reason for it to taste at all bad... elsewhere you’ll have read, I’m sure, about how fruit juice and pineapple can the way for guys to go, but really all he needs to do is make sure he’s well-hydrated - which, in turn, simply means not filling himself with those liquids that have the opposite effect like coffee, spirits, soda, and diet drinks.
But it doesn’t matter, because those are not really the issue here. Taste, texture, viscosity, whatever... they’re just excuses. What it really comes down to is the self-perpetuating fact that “most other girls” dislike it, so why should I be different? And why do they dislike it? Because “most other girls” dislike it, so why should they. Round and round in an urban mythological circle whose closest non-sexual comparison would probably be a schoolyard full of middle school aged children being asked what they think of broccoli. Their friends don’t like it, so why would they? And even if they do, they’re not going to admit it.
I did admit it once, in one of those ladies’ room conversations that teenagers are so prone to. And I won’t say all my friends stopped talking to me, but one or two shifted awkwardly, and a few more pulled faces, and maybe it was just my imagination but I definitely felt excluded from similar chats in the future.
And that was just for eating broccoli.
Where did this loathing come from in the first place? (We’re back on subject now, by the way; let’s put the broccoli back in the fridge.)
It has certainly not always been this way. Folkloric medicine and remedies aren’t exactly overflowing with jizzum, but there are certainly a few that prescribe it as a cure for sundry ills. Internally and externally, by the way. Magical beliefs that are, shall we say gently, a little more traditional than mainstream modern Wicca, likewise recognize the healing and other properties of what were once referred to as “the living waters.”
But both the ancient Greeks and Romans regarded oral sex as a form of bodily defilement (at least outside certain Goddess cults); an act so far beyond the traditional wifely duties that prostitutes alone were considered willing participants. The brothel at Pompeii still displays its menu - the price of a blowjob ranged from two asses (the cost of a cup of wine, and not a reference to backsides) to five and one wonders; did the more expensive of the two include a swallow? Or was the giver just considered more skilled? Either way, author Ray Laurence (see bibliography) states "the classification of a woman... as a cheap prostitute specializing in fellatio [may be] a denigration of her character." And as the Roman ideal of civilization first spread, and was then subsumed into early Christianity, this distaste was among the elements that the newborn societies inherited. And again, not on religious grounds.
Or not wholly. The Old Testament condemns Onan from spilling his seed on the ground, rather than utilizing it for its stated purpose of procreation, and that explains why masturbation is still occasionally described as a sin. (Although I always thought “abusive self-amusement” a far more entertaining term.) So while no Holy book specifically admonishes any other horny ancient for spilling it somebody’s mouth, we can assume that the same principle holds good.
But this specific aversion goes deeper than that. The ancient Chinese approved of fellatio, but not of ejaculation as the climax of the act, fearing the loss of the man's yang essence. But you will look in vain for more than the vaguest references in the literature of either ancient or medieval times. The English poet possibly alludes to cunnilingus ("shouldst thou sucke my sweete and faire flower") in 1594's The Tears of an Affectionate Shepherd, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales details a trick that a pair of lovers play on a man begging a kiss from the woman. He raises her skirts and he kisses her "other" lips and is disgusted when he realizes what he’s done. But that's about as far as it goes.
Now look into the law books of these United States, and as late as the early 1960s, oral sex was against the law; not because it wasted good seed, but because it was “a deviant practice.” (A topic I broached in an earlier article). Of course it stands to reason that if the act itself is considered deviant, then its logical conclusion... because swallowing is logical... must be even worse. Double deviant! Supersized double deviant with extra fries!
And once you move into that kind of arena, the notion that “good girls don’t” takes on legal and cultural ramifications that go way beyond a simple matter of taste or texture.
Society has, by and large, overcome that old aversion to oral sex. They joke about blowjobs on prime time sitcoms (a late 1990s episode of Just Shoot Me had the character of Nina explaining unconvincingly why she used to be known as BJ, and it wasn’t because “I always wore blue jeans”); it was the trigger for the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings; and even the Christian Right has given it the green light. Within the context of marriage, of course.
That’s another matter of entirely. A matter of taste, if you’ll pardon the pun, that merges with so many other societal pressures and practices that even anal, fisting and BDSM sometimes appear more appropriate topics of public discussion. And by public, I mean outside of a forum of hopefully like-minded (or at least understanding) peers, and back into the ladies room with a handful of friends.
The interesting thing is, I’d rather like it to stay that way. It’s nice to know, in the days of so much rampant permissiveness and possibly even promiscuity that there remains one term, two little words, three tiny syllables, that won’t simply shock and awe your date for the evening; they will continue to do so for years to come.
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