Why Blowjobs Are More Intimate Than Sex
December 7, 2015 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Okay obviously NSFW and it's College Humor, but when you think about it, why are blowjobs considered less intimate than penetrative sex?
posted by Megami (62 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite


 
Pregnancy.
posted by box at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Bill Clinton.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Are they though? Considered less intimate? I've known people with pretty much every possible permutation of personal ranking for corresponding levels of needing to be into someone versus performing various sex acts. And specifically, it seems about 50/50 on whether penetrative sex comes before or after oral sex (or rather, maybe 60/20/20 since most people in my experience don't differentiate between the two at all).

Sex is a very personal thing, and it seems obvious that there can't be a one-size-fits all ranking for our comfort levels with different forms of it.

Anyway, the video was amusing.
posted by 256 at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Consider the fraction of the brain devoted to the mouth versus the genitals.
posted by BentFranklin at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a good question, really, but I think box has it right for straight people. As a woman you're taking more of a risk (of pregnancy) when you have penetrative intercourse. More risk means you might want to know and trust your partner better.

There's also a mutuality to the posture that's absent with a blowjob, unless it's a 69. Could be part of the perception.

You can have meaningless straight intercourse and as a straight woman you can give meaningful blowjobs. There's not necessarily any more emotional closeness with intercourse.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Consider the fraction of the brain devoted to the mouth versus the genitals.

I don't know what that fraction is. I feel like a spend a lot more time thinking about food than sex, but only because chocolate exists.
posted by maxsparber at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Because they can be "dispensed" with less effort and time expenditure, disrobing, etc. and because the prevailing religion is frequently used to admonish premarital intercourse while other forms of sexuality are seen as loopholes. Realistically, it's all very intimate to me, I did not emerge from childhood with very overtly religious tendencies but somehow do have a very strict association between sexuality, intimacy, affection, and love. I sometimes wonder if growing up as I did, disavowing religion at the same time I developed an interest in the opposite sex, I managed to enshrine the notion of having a perfect "soulmate" in place of the notion that there is somebody all-powerful out there who gives a shit about me. As for the whole psychosexual distorted atheist libertarian MRA perspective on pair bonding with women and the general disgruntlement of aggrieved fragile men, there but for the grace of God go I.
posted by aydeejones at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like a spend a lot more time thinking about food than sex, but only because chocolate exists.

You make it sound like chocolate isn't useful for each of those things.
posted by Etrigan at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


You make it sound like chocolate isn't useful for each of those things.

That sentence only makes sense for people who don't wrap their meaty arms around chocolate and eat it while staring daggers at anyone who comes near, like someone in prison.
posted by maxsparber at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I absolutely agree with this. I also think it's basically considered less intimate across the board. It is *third base* not a home run in common parlance. I don't think everyone needs to consider it more intimate, but there's not a whole lot of support for those of us that think it is. Those conversations are hella awkward, way more so than regular sex conversations IMHO.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:00 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


After an impromptu canvassing of three of the women in my office, it seems the answer is "because I already put a lot of other stuff into my mouth."

So, there's that.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 11:25 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


For me blowjobs are less intimate because I don't feel like they make me particularly vulnerable. If I have penis-in-vagina sex, I have to take off some clothes and that opens me up to much more judgement -- do I look fat once I take off my skirt/pants? Is my underwear cute? Does my sex partner have Opinions on pubic hair grooming and am I being judged for the choices I've made? Does s/he think I smell weird? If I give a blowjob I can keep all my clothes on and the only thing on which you can judge me is my technique (one of the few areas, along with typing speed, in which I actually feel some confidence).

This doesn't come up for me now because I'm in a married, monogamous relationship with an amazing and awesome and wonderful and non-judgmental man, but in high school I gave blowjobs a lot more than I had sex for a number of reasons but one of them was definitely that I feel much safer around men, even men with whom I'm fooling around, when I can keep all my clothes on.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


I did my best to derail the conversation, but I remember my mom telling me that back in the 60's and 70's, oral sex, at least in her group of friends, was considered more intimate than PIV sex. After that factoid, I killed the conversation, so I don't know how widespread this belief was and if it ever changed.
posted by Hactar at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because they can be "dispensed" with less effort and time expenditure

says you
posted by billiebee at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


After an impromptu canvassing of three of the women in my office, it seems the answer is "El Io, you really need to stop asking questions like that, you are creating a sexually harassing work environment, cut it out dude."
posted by el io at 11:40 AM on December 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


To all those who perform oral sex:
Thank you for your service.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


It seems self-evident to me that oral sex in general (not just blow jobs) is more intimate than penetrative, if only for how close your nose is to somebody's butthole (or how close your butthole is to somebody's nose). You are going to know a lot more about another person after having had your face buried in their genital region for several minutes in a way that you won't necessarily through intercourse.
posted by The Gooch at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think perhaps the intimacy of oral sex comes from how difficult it is, comparatively, to dissociate the act from the person performing it. If you look, you can virtually always see at least part of their face, which isn't necessarily always the case with intercourse of whatever genital configurations.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:53 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Blowjobs? The most singularly one-sided male-dominant 'sex act' that exists? When I turned 18, the first porn movie I went out to see was "Deep Throat" and that deterred me from sex for my freshman year of college...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The most singularly one-sided male-dominant 'sex act' that exists?

I disagree. Context is everything.
posted by billiebee at 12:08 PM on December 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oral is the most widespread sex act(s) that is most frequently performed without a barrier form of protection, fwiw.
posted by PMdixon at 12:09 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


For those of us who like both giving and receiving blowjobs, they are not at all one-sided. I respect, of course, that for many women, many blowjobs are in fact very much one-sided and not consensual or enjoyable.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think it's a generational thing, in that it's no big deal to Millennials but a Huge Deal to anyone older than them. A few possible reasons...

- They're the first generation to be raised on dire warnings of pregnancy and STDs, with oral seen as a safer alternative.
- They're less influenced by religious mores; remember that (some?) sodomy laws barred anything non-penetrative, not just anal, and the last were repealed relatively recently.
- Wide availability of porn normalized it.

Hence, College Humor, a site aimed at Millennials, mining comedy from the dissonance of the actual physical intimacy of the act versus its perception.
posted by frogstar42 at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The most singularly one-sided male-dominant 'sex act' that exists?

I can say as a straight male that the times I've felt most out of control/submissive/dominated during sex were pretty much all when receiving a blow job from a woman. Data point of one, obviously, but there are a lot of different ways to give a blowjob and not all of them are male-dominant at all.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:16 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


All those potentially chompy teeth near your peen definitely seems kind of intimidating.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Like peanut butter and chocolate, they go great together.
posted by sfts2 at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2015


sfts2: Like peanut butter and chocolate, they go great together.


Teeth and peens? No, I... no, they don't.
posted by emelenjr at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


maxsparber: "That sentence only makes sense for people who don't wrap their meaty arms around chocolate and eat it while staring daggers at anyone who comes near, like someone in prison."

Are there other kinds of people?
posted by chavenet at 12:50 PM on December 7, 2015


So, for a thing I'm reading a lot of gay make histories of the 40s and I'm struck by the overwhelming preference for blowjobs over any other act. Presumably it's a time, speed, convince thing (also getting one makes you not gay for some people) but I guess I hadn't Realized how it was the dominant sexual act among men who have sex with men, at least it seems so from these books.
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always thought of oral sex as more intimate and more dangerous. Pregnancy is rather easy to avoid. STDs are a lot easier to avoid with penetrative sex because people are conditioned to use condoms, however I don't get the impression that most people use condoms or dental dams with oral sex...that is dangerous and thus more risky in my opinion. All the more reason to choose your partner wisely.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 12:55 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not a dude, and they're my friends, derail over.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2015


I'm struck by the overwhelming preference for blowjobs over any other act. Presumably it's a time, speed, convince thing (also getting one makes you not gay for some people) but I guess I hadn't Realized how it was the dominant sexual act among men who have sex with men, at least it seems so from these books.

I learned this in college from class mates. Everyone assumes anal is the big thing, and I guess that's because people assume it looks closest to PIV sex? I don't know, but many guys were just as unwilling to receive anal sex as the women were. And that was mostly over physical discomfort with the act itself, not anything else.
posted by TenaciousB at 1:11 PM on December 7, 2015


The two words that make "blowjobs are the most intimate form of sex" into a Big Lie: Glory Holes.

Also, who has ever said "gimme a steak and a BJ... and get something for yourself"?
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2015


Glory holes--and indeed a lot of gay-male-specific sex--maps onto intimacy in totally different ways than what's being discussed here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:23 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always thought of oral sex as more intimate and more dangerous. Pregnancy is rather easy to avoid. STDs are a lot easier to avoid with penetrative sex because people are conditioned to use condoms, however I don't get the impression that most people use condoms or dental dams with oral sex...that is dangerous and thus more risky in my opinion. All the more reason to choose your partner wisely.

But the baseline risk of catching something dangerous from oral sex is lower, no?

But then another point is that I've heard both men and women say that recieving oral sex is more intimate than coitus, and others say that about performing it, too - but they are not necessarily the same people. I.e. I think for some individuals it is an asymmetric preference.
posted by atoxyl at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2015


Statistically less possibility of eye contact?
posted by lumpenprole at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a Gen-Xer and came of age in the 80s, when everyone was terrified of STDs. And even then oral sex didn't really count. It was more involved than kissing, say, but one could engage in it and keep one's virginity.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Compared to penetrating sex, oral sex has a bigger distinction between provider and receiver of pleasure. It feels more like a favor than mutual enjoyment.

Depending on how one feels about receiving or giving favors, it will affect whether oral sex feels more intimate or not.

If someone think doing or receiving a favor is an act of intimacy, they would find oral sex more intimate.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:31 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"however I don't get the impression that most people use condoms or dental dams with oral sex...that is dangerous and thus more risky in my opinion."

I do not think that your opinion is backed very well by transmission rates.

"I'm a Gen-Xer and came of age in the 80s, when everyone was terrified of STDs. And even then oral sex didn't really count. It was more involved than kissing, say, but one could engage in it and keep one's virginity."

I'm Gen X'/Gen Y/proto-snake people and I've never gotten head from someone I didn't fuck first. From media and peer reporting, I was a lonely raft in a sea of casual blowjobs, but I never sighted one until I'd landed.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember having this discussion in church when I was like 12 or so, whether 69 or PIV was a more intimate form of heterosexual sex.

Unitarians are weird.
posted by kafziel at 2:58 PM on December 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


All you people who think blowjobs are one sided are doing it wrong.
posted by BentFranklin at 3:40 PM on December 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


BentFranklin, I'm not sure if you an asshole or a genius but please feel free to elaborate.
posted by raider at 3:48 PM on December 7, 2015


Agreed with TLP's take; sexity sex is mutual and great, but oral is an act of caring and giving. Especially when your second sensory awareness of the day is the smell of coffee brewing.
posted by raider at 3:55 PM on December 7, 2015


With enough love, the giver can achieve oralgasm.

#heartchakra
posted by BentFranklin at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2015


Compared to penetrating sex, oral sex has a bigger distinction between provider and receiver of pleasure. It feels more like a favor than mutual enjoyment.

Depending on how one feels about receiving or giving favors, it will affect whether oral sex feels more intimate or not.

If someone think doing or receiving a favor is an act of intimacy, they would find oral sex more intimate.


There's such a distasteful thing going on with guys feeling entitled to blowjobs that it can turn into something that can be such a turn on to give become a real source of tension, especially between people in a longtime relationship.

I think it being an intimate act depends so much on the receiver's attitude while getting the blowjob. He can make something that can be such a huge turn on to do for someone you're lin love r lust with into something that feels just awful and depersonalizing to do. Getting nagged about blowjobs, the receiver not having the courtesy to care about making it go on too long because the receiver is so lost in making his own pleasure last as long as possible even if the giver is pretty much tearing up/getting an achy jaw, running out of air, etc---I it doesn't have to be a favor because it can be a turn on to give if you're treated properly during the giving. It could be an extremely intimate act, but the receiver has to not act like the giver is a machine and be considerate, loving and grateful to the giver while getting it. And it's so bizarre to me how so many men don't realize how willing their seemingly reluctant partners would be if they didn't treat it like it's something they're entitled to and realized it is still a very mutual sex act, not an intermission.
posted by discopolo at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


So, for a thing I'm reading a lot of gay male histories of the 40s and I'm struck by the overwhelming preference for blowjobs over any other act. Presumably it's a time, speed, convince thing (also getting one makes you not gay for some people) but I guess I hadn't Realized how it was the dominant sexual act among men who have sex with men, at least it seems so from these books.

In some places it probably had to do with it being less illegal than anal sex; I think that was the case for a while in LA.

Mostly I'm now just realizing how long it's been since I've been on either end of a blowjob, thanks a lot Metafilter
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:30 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


To provide counter-balance to the idea that the giver of a blowjob is always doing a favour, performing a rather joyless task, etc., and that the receiver just lies there passively, I will just put it out there that some people very much enjoy getting face-fucked [tugs collar, fidgets].
posted by erlking at 6:07 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I did my best to derail the conversation, but I remember my mom telling me that back in the 60's and 70's, oral sex, at least in her group of friends, was considered more intimate than PIV sex.

I can vouch for your mom's testimony here. In fact, in the early 70's, I remember reading a book called 'The Mouth' that was like, an introduction to the idea that oral sex was even a thing that people did, because there'd been so little open discussion of the idea prior to that point.

(When I found said book on the bookshelf of my first proper date, you'd better believe I thought my ship had come in.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:40 PM on December 7, 2015


Damn -- said book is now worth £30.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mouth-Oral-Paul-Ableman/dp/0900793015
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2015


And the author is much more interesting than I'd ever supposed -- perhaps why the book was as memorable as it was?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:46 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really dislike oral sex, both as a provider and a recipient. I am VERY ticklish.
Anything that sets me feeling tickled off is no fun for me. I hate being tickled.
My father thought it terribly amusing to tickle me until I was furious. Being only a small child, I could not do anything about it. My mother caught him tickling me like that one time and pretty much lost her shit. Thanks Mom!
I have had only one partner who doesn't nag for BJs. It really makes me happy that he doesn't want to have me do it to him or to do it to me. If people like it, it's their business, but if a person really doesn't enjoy it, nagging over it by EITHER person really isn't cool.
Nearly every man I've been with lasted a long time. That can be a bug not a feature, especially with oral sex. There is a very fine line between 'sure hon!' to 'can this please be over?'with anything people can do sexually.
A smart partner learns their partner's limits.
N-thing the above comment about people acting entitled. No one is entitled, even in marriage.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:46 PM on December 7, 2015


I do not think that your opinion is backed very well by transmission rates.

Unfortunately, Oral HPV and HSV spread via oral are on the rise.
posted by Candleman at 7:44 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"In some places it probably had to do with it being less illegal than anal sex; I think that was the case for a while in LA."

… kinda.

Here's a fascinating history of California's sodomy and oral copulation laws.

For most of California's history with laws against oral and anal sex, oral sex actually carried a greater penalty (15 years) than anal (10 years), until 1950, when the maximum penalty for sodomy was increased to 20 years. Then, in 1952, Governor Earl Warren signed a law that removed the maximum penalty for sodomy, effectively allowing sentences up to life.

For a long time, California's law against oral sex was effectively moot, as a California Supreme Court decision found that the average person wouldn't know what the terms "fellatio" and "cunnilingus" meant, but that changed in the early 20th century with a law against oral copulation — which then got argued into the particulars (merely licking or kissing genitals did not count as oral copulation — there had to be penetration).

This is all complicated by a couple of things. First off, California had general laws against lewd behavior and "vagrancy," where "vagrancy" included basically any behavior that the cops didn't like. The other charge, specifically used in LA, was that it was a crime against public morals to appear as a member of the other gender — i.e. crossdressing, used both against men in dresses and women in slacks, but also a handy charge based on the gender normed sexual mores of the time. Second, and this is also something that was frightfully common in LA, dragnets for gays and lesbians were essentially trawling for bribes. Even if the activity was nominally legal during the period where "fellatio" wasn't yet again prohibited, being charged with it would ruin your life. So cops would pick up people under incredibly dubious circumstances (especially since it took the insane overreach of the LAPD in the '50s to finally get court decisions prohibiting evidence that was illegally gathered, and prohibiting warrantless wiretaps and audio bugs) and then offer to let you plead guilty to, say, public drunkenness or being without any visible means of support or whatever, with hugely inflated fines. You could either do that or be publicly prosecuted as gay, which would cost your job, your marriage, your home, etc. etc. If you were convicted more than once, you would have to go on the sex offender registry (called the "psychopath offender law") and could be sterilized and involuntarily confined for life.

It's also worth noting that oral and anal sex were prohibited for straight couples until 1976 as well, but they were prosecuted incredibly rarely.
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


This deserves an fpp of its own, but the story of the rise of drug-resistant gonorrhea and the increasing prevalence of oral sex is fascinating.
posted by sneebler at 8:57 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think part of the "convenience" of giving oral sex is that you don't have to worry about body image issues (as you can stay dressed) as well as the fact that the giver is functionally in control of the act pretty much the whole time.
posted by Samizdata at 1:59 AM on December 8, 2015


posted by The Gooch

I know the "epynosterical" thing is overdone, but sometimes it just writes itself.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


For me, it is much more intimate. I feel more vulnerable with my head being right where a dude's arms end. I pretty much don't allow a man to put his hands on my head during a blow job, because that freaks me right out. Also, if I am going down on a man I expect parity. Men who don't go downtown but expect a blowjob are the worst. At the same time, it can feel so scary letting a guy go down on you because women are told how disgusting lady-parts are all the time. Men don't get that kind of disgust thing overall it seems to me, but I am a woman, so men feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:39 AM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Most people on Earth suck dicks.

There's only like 1,000 of us selfish assholes out there that never blew anyone.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2015


I find the notion of a blowjob as some sort of favor to be just...peculiar...like it's some sort of obligatory chore instead of "HOLY FUCK that is one byooootiful dick and damn, my face just got hot and now I'm going to need to have it in my mouth post haste," but maybe some otherwise dick-oriented folks just aren't delirious for dick. Too bad, I guess.
posted by sonascope at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find the notion of a blowjob as some sort of favor to be just...peculiar...like it's some sort of obligatory chore instead of "HOLY FUCK that is one byooootiful dick and damn, my face just got hot and now I'm going to need to have it in my mouth post haste," but maybe some otherwise dick-oriented folks just aren't delirious for dick. Too bad, I guess.

I can see how it is seen as a favor, in so far as it's just, like ... "Hey, you have a dick, and I feel like giving that dick a present right now". It's less ... committal, if that makes sense? Most other sex acts are a lot more involved on both sides, much more of a to-do. Not that it has to be this way, by any means, but a blowjob can definitely be approached with an intent of "I'm bored. Just sit still and relax for a bit." Other things kinda can't.
posted by kafziel at 4:28 PM on December 9, 2015


I can think of very few standard sex acts that can't be approached (consensually!) that way, actually.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:40 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Statistically less possibility of eye contact?

That's it for me. Looking into each others eyes feels more intimate to me.
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on December 13, 2015


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