With oral sex no longer just some form of foreplay, fellatio and cunnilingus can be the ultimate exchange when it comes to sexual intimacy. For many, oral sex offers many people the best sexual pleasures to be had, and for that reason, receiving oral sex is a favorite sexual activity for many.
It’s considered safe to assume that oral sexual exchanges have been around for as long as humans have walked the Earth. The first evidence of fellatio comes from ancient Egypt on scrolls and explicit images capturing the myth of the ruler Osiris and his sister and wife Isis. Osiris was killed by his brother, Set, and chopped into pieces. Isis then put Osiris’s pieces back together, but found his penis missing. An artificial penis was created out of clay, which Isis sucked on to “blow” life back into Osiris.
Remnants of past peoples elsewhere around the world have also captured the human fascination with oral sex. The tribal societies of Oceana, for example, depicted explicit illustrations of oral sex on pottery dating back to 300 BC. The South Americans Incas also had pottery depicting the domination and power involved in fellatio. Ancient Greek and Peruvian vases, too, showcased various positions for fellatio. Then there are the Japanese and Chinese scrolls, dating back to 200 BC, that feature cunnilingus drawings, indicating that humans were equally interested in female pleasuring as well.
Such celebrations would indicate that oral sex was an activity encouraged and pursued, and it was in some cultures. Oral pleasuring was a revered, spiritual practice amongst Chinese Taoists. Sixteenth century Japan’s shunga artistic movement celebrated such sensual pleasures with woodblock prints depicting lovers performing cunnilingus in an effort to collect a female’s fluids in an ejaculation bowl.
Yet such celebrations have been the exception to the rule. Both fellatio and cunnilingus have been greatly discouraged and frowned upon by various societies throughout the ages. These acts have been largely regarded as disgusting taboos since as far back as pre-Christian Ancient Rome and Ancient India. Societies against oral sex, heavily influenced by religious convictions, have cited the fact that the practice does not lead to procreation as justification for its ban. Islam has condemned any acts that do not spread a man’s seed (his sperm), and Christianity long disapproved of oral sex as a mortal sin, even within marriage, until as recently as the 19th century.
Such religious influence is still seen today, with oral sex prohibited in some cultures and even illegal in some parts of the world. Such social control largely stems from centuries-old prohibitions against mouth-genital contact, an act seen as unnatural and immoral in going against Divine law. Anti-gay sentiment combined with the misconception that oral sex is a “gay” activity has only added to the stigmatism over the years. Such views have heavily influenced the practice of oral sex amongst Americans, until recently.
Oral pleasuring techniques did not become widespread in the U.S. until the 1920s. Even then, wives and proper girlfriends weren’t supposed to know much about what was referred to as the “genital kiss” in marriage manuals nor care to, even if these books recommended cunnilingus, in particular, as a way to express couple intimacy. That, however, has greatly changed. A number of studies show that oral sex is practiced by the vast majority of people. People of all orientations and ages engage in oral pleasuring, with Western societies slowly becoming more open about it.
Oral Sex around the World
Making the study of oral sex history all the more interesting is the fact that it’s a widely practiced amongst primitive people. The following peoples are often featured in human sexuality textbooks in making cross-cultural comparisons of sexual behaviors, especially given that their practices and beliefs can be shocking to even the greatest of oral sex enthusiasts...
Pohnpei – It is said that cunnilingus on this Pacific Island can involve a man placing a fish in a woman’s vulva and then gradually licking it out before sexual intercourse.
Mangaia – Mangians, inhabitants of the Cook Island Mangaia, are known for their sexual socialization of youth once they hit puberty. A male circumcision expert teaches 13- to 14-year-old males techniques like cunnilingus, how to realize simultaneous orgasm with a partner, and how to help a woman have multiple orgasms. (An elderly woman instructs females on similar matters.) This takes place following a superincision circumcision ceremony marking his transition into manhood, where only the top half of the foreskin of the penis is split.
New Guinea – The Sambia of Papua New Guinea are known for the practice of same sex fellatio as the first stage of sexual initiation. Boys learn to ingest semen from older males during oral sexual contact, with the belief that consumption of semen will make them big and strong. Many continue engaging in fellatio until they father children themselves.
Inuit – This North American Eskimo culture does not see the mouth as sexual, making fellatio taboo. Giving head is further seen as something that can take away one’s strength.
No matter how you find yourself reacting to these case examples of oral sex in society, it’s fascinating to observe just how widespread the practice is. Throughout history and across cultures, humans have engaged in oral sex as a form of sexualization and/or pleasuring, reinforcing the argument that fellatio and cunnilingus are very natural, normal aspects of human sexuality and expression.
Author: Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD.
Photo By: Better Sex
Scene Still from: The Better Sex® Guide to Great Oral Sex