Is oral sex degrading?

Couple on a date

Couple on a date (YOUR NAME HERE / Chicago Tribune / January 4, 2013)

Dear Anna,

Last week me and my friend have had a discussion about oral sex and how some women think it’s wrong. I think it’s perfectly fine to give your partner oral sex. If I can't give my boyfriend actual sex, then I give him oral. When it comes to your partner, is it honestly a horrible thing to do? —Anon.


Dear Anon.,

In all my years as a sex columnist, never have I once seen the words “horrible” and “oral” in the same sentence, not even in a dirty limerick or Kanye West song, which is surprising because they make a near-perfect rhyme.

Oral sex has its detractors, (as we learned a few weeks ago), but it remains a fairly popular practice among heterosexuals, though not as popular as vaginal sex. According to the CDC, 45 percent of females and 48 percent of males ages 15-19 have had oral sex. Just a few years later, the numbers bounce to 81 percent for females and 80 percent for males in the 20-24 age group. Lest you think this is just a byproduct of the slutty youth demographic, one study involving 57 to 85-year-old adults showed that “58 percent of sexually active respondents in the youngest age group reported engaging in oral sex” and 31 percent did in the oldest. While oral sex is not as popular a pastime as, say, consuming pizza, it’s pretty high up there on the list of Things Americans Like.

I am struggling to come up with ways oral sex might conceivably be construed as “horrible.” Cosmo’s advice involving fellating a donut comes to mind. If you belonged to a group of kinky, show-off acrobats who requested you perform a combination beej/handstand, that, too, would be horrible. Going down on someone with a penis tattoo of Kenny G playing a saxophone? Also horrible.

But your run-of-the-mill cunnilingus or fellatio? I’d say even on a bad day, the act of performing oral sex on a consenting adult should be no more unpleasant than a mild chore, akin to flossing while tired. It’s not everyone’s cup of lube, of course. And those who dislike oral sex, or find it degrading or immoral, are free to remove their kneepads and take up a different hobby, like scrapbooking.

I also suppose those who think oral sex is “wrong” are referring to a religious or moral stigma. Since oral sex doesn’t lead to procreation, religious leaders wrote the act off as a “sin” and then went home to bang their six wives. But outside of strict religious dogma, oral sex hasn’t been perceived as “taboo” in a long time, at least since the mainstreaming of porn in the ’70s.

Regardless of how you feel about the kneel, no one should try to shame you for a sex act you enjoy. That would be horrible.

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