“Lick it good/
Suck this pussy just like you should, right now/
Lick it good/
Lick my pussy and my crack/”
—Khia, “My Neck, My Back”
As I have been learning and exploring the “bases,” it occurred to me that I want to embrace a less patriarchal system (the balls, the long hard bats, the no women playing it) by using something other than baseball references for this cycle of sensual escalation. (I am open to suggestions.)
That said, in this current metaphor, we are landing on third base! Yes, that’s right, it’s time to taste it! To bring the genitalia of another under our tongues and into our mouths. And/or to let someone else put their soft wet mouths on our very sensitive external sex organs.
Now, oral sex can be the worst of times or the best of times. So let’s explore both.
“Put it in ya mouth/
in ya motherfucking mouth/
Or you can just eat me out/
You can eat me out/
You can lick it/ you can sip it/ you can taste it/
I’m talking every drip-drop don’t you waste it/”
—Akinyele featuring Crystal Johnson, “Put It In Your Mouth”
In most worst of times scenarios, you are with someone who doesn’t pay attention. With an inattentive lover, you can feel like prey to a mouth monster who doesn’t seem to know the difference between tooth and tongue, or someone who grabs your head without consent, or who starts imitating a vacuum as a starting move. He doesn’t pay attention to the impact of his penis hitting your throat. She doesn’t pay attention to the pressure you like on your clitoris. They don’t notice you’ve stopped moaning.
Another worst case scenario is a lover who goes down on you, but is reluctant or hesitant about it. This could be an indication that there isn’t actually consent for oral sex, and you should figure out if that’s true and why. Take time to stop, or at least slow down and get curious: “You seem hesitant. Is something up?”
Trauma or social conditioning (including, but not limited to, sexual assault and abuse, fatphobia, and transphobia) can leave a landscape of mental and physical blocks to oral sex acts. We carry wounds from violations of our safety, rejections based on our divergence from mainstream body norms, or being misgendered in the sexual act. For many of us, oral sex is the most vulnerable sex act, so not being able to name these wounds or navigate trauma-informed boundaries with our lovers, can lead to head that is awkward, numb, or devastating.
Different approaches to hygiene can also destroy an oral sex experience. No judgment for my folks who like it on the funky side, my people who only feel clean with a strong cologne or perfume spray, my germaphobes and neat freaks, or my sweat fetishists—it is mainly important that you and your lover are aligned around hygiene standards, whatever they may be.
Recognize that different cultures have actually developed different preferences around smells, and racism has distorted those preferences into judgments and insecurities. I know so many Black women who have been made to feel like we don’t smell desirable. Given all of this, it can be really hard to discuss hygiene with a lover. Start with positive ‘I’ statements—“I prefer it if we shower first” or “I am really turned on by your natural scent.”
The other worst case scenarios occur when you’re heading to third base with someone who doesn’t want to use agreed upon protection or someone who isn’t forthcoming about their sexual history. I juxtapose these two worst case scenarios because they overlap too often.
You don’t owe anyone unprotected oral sex, and you deserve to be confident about what you’re getting into. Does it feel better raw? Of course. But the landscape of risk is ever present and ever shifting. Your health is worth more than a moment, or even a night, of raw pleasure. Make the agreements that will allow for that kind of risk and intimacy if both partners are aligned in wanting unprotected contact. Do not try to pressure for it when you’re in the throes of oral passion.
And you absolutely want to be the kind of adult who can initiate a conversation around sexual health rather than putting another person at risk. We mostly haven’t learned how to have that conversation well as a species, so practice, mess it up, and realize you are still learning—for yourself and for all humans.
“Head/ till you’re burning up/
Head/ till you get enough/
Head/ till your love is red/
Head/ love you till you’re dead”
Now we can get to the best of times! Those times when you find your precious flesh in the mouth of someone who pays attention to the pace and pressure you need in order to experience ecstasy. When you are sitting on the face of someone who is enthusiastic to be beneath you. When you are on your knees and in no rush.
In the best case scenario, any conversations that need to happen have happened and there is a culture of consent between you, protection on hand, and maybe some flavored lube or peppermint leaves.
In the best case scenario, both parties can bring their attention fully to the cock/pussy/other at hand. Or, more precisely, at mouth. There is an appreciation of the unique beauty of the body being swallowed, and there is focus and surrender to the tricks and gifts of the mouth being entered.
ain’t even coming up for air now/
I just keep my head down (down, down)/
Swim for days/
I can doggy paddle all kind of ways/”
—Trey Songz, “Dive In”
In the best oral sex experiences, there is desire and respect for the size, ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, trauma history, and comfort of each lover. There is the mess of arousal and cumming, there is the presence of whole bodies holding and touching around the focal point of oral pleasure. There is no pain (that isn’t desired) from teeth or overly intense sucking. There is space for the light touch, the escalation, the emotional opening of such vulnerable pleasure. There is time for the slower pace that includes kisses along the thighs and hips, taking the balls in your mouth, tracing your tongue along the perineum.
And, most importantly, when you say “right there, right there, rightthererightthererightthere”? They stay. Right. There.
Hot and Heavy Homework
A few years ago I decided I needed to make a playlist about head. I wanted songs from men about giving head to women. I was especially looking for music about women cumming explosively in their lover’s faces, pussy facials, I suppose. To some, this might seem crude, but I think that’s just patriarchy. Because there are So Very Many songs from men about receiving head, with all the details one might hope for (or not) about the explosive endings. Pop culture drags its heels behind the truth of our practices, so I didn’t find many songs, and there isn’t nearly the repertoire of needed odes to LGBPQ* and T/I/GNC** mouth-to-genital magic.
I think this incredible, vulnerable, powerful act needs a lot more music that includes all the bodies that need tasting. Write a song or rap about the most amazing head you have ever received, or ever plan to receive. Emphasize what is unique about how your body receives head, and how you give it.
Bonus if you share it with an existing or potential lover.
* Sexualities beyond heterosexual, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Queer
** Genders beyond binary, including Trans, Intersex, Gender Non-Conforming