This is going to sound like a humblebrag, but I promise it’s not: men tell me they want to go down on me all the time. Not strangers, thankfully, but men who, in some way, want to form a romantic bond with me, usually on a first or second date, or during some sort of text flirtation. They want to put their heads between my thighs, and they want me to know about that desire in no uncertain terms. I wish they’d shut up.
It’s not that I don’t like oral sex–in fact, I love it! It’s great! It’s probably a Top 3 sex activity, definitely a Top 5! I don’t identify with the group of women Charlotte Shane recently wrote about at Fusion, who are ambivalent at best about having their pussies eaten. What Shane’s essay did make me realize, though, is that in the past few years, men have started hurling their positive feelings about the act toward me in increasing numbers and at increasingly awkward times.
“I really love to eat pussy. I bet yours is beautiful,” said the lawyer I went on an ill-fated first date with at the end of last summer, while I was still clutching my second glass of happy hour rosé and before our conversation had veered into anything even vaguely sexual. He then extended an invite into the prissy wine bar’s bathroom, which I declined. He seemed legitimately confused when I also declined his offer for a second date. Much the same thing happened with a TV producer two months later, although I did let him go down on me when we hung out again. It was bad. Another man, who told me early and often of his love for performing oral sex, didn’t even bother to do it when we were eventually alone together.
Those guys are the most memorable examples in a sea of men who have spontaneously told me that they intend to perform cunnilingus on me, to which my response is generally, “Uh, we’ll see.” Because what else am I supposed to say to that? I like giving head, and I’m good at it, but I’m not putting dudes on the spot about getting their dicks sucked after two High Lifes and the normal getting-to-know-you first date patter on a Wednesday afternoon. If I were, I bet that wouldn’t go particularly well for me either. (Although, probably in a different way.)
Instead, that’s information a man gets to stumble upon organically, should he act right for long enough that I want to see him naked. Attraction gets an opportunity to grow, and new sexual partners get a chance to be pleasantly surprised; no itinerary of a future sexual encounter has been read to them at a bar. “Show, don’t tell” isn’t just good advice for writers.
In the year of our Lord 2016, in Brooklyn, it is not hard to find a man who likes to eat pussy. Finding a man who’s reasonably good at it is harder, but not much–not only has the stigma around women’s genitals dramatically decreased, but progressive men seem to have long ago internalized the idea that eating pussy is their duty as right-thinking liberals. The few men I’ve dated who weren’t overly enthusiastic about it all seemed ashamed to admit it when the time came, even though I find a good finger-bang just as enjoyable.
That’s the thing, though: none of this forthrightness, this obsession that should ostensibly be about giving me pleasure, seems keyed to my interest or desire, or even related to it. Instead, all these men seem to want is a pat on the head, a tacit acknowledgement that they’ve done the work of being good, giving, and game partners, but without doing any of the actual work. In this, as in many areas of modern hetero courtship, I wish men would just pipe down and prove it. Or, in this instance, maybe just pipe down and see if I ever express interest in proof to begin with.
Illustration by Emily Griffin.