Backrubs Before Blowjobs

(Or What I Wish They Taught Us in School)

All rights @ Gabriel Matula, Buenos Aires

Every American knows that Sex Ed teaches you nothing about sexuality and only the bludgeon-y basics of sexual reproduction. I vaguely remember a class in fifth grade when they separated the boys and girls. They talked at us about puberty. A girl named Erin asked if you could still swim with a tampon. I don’t remember anything else they taught us about menstruation.

When the boys came back I was self-consciously embarrassed in that way that only tweens can be. With certainty that everyone suddenly had x-ray vision and could read my mind. I was certain that the boys knew we were talking about something humiliating. I wasn’t totally certain what was humiliating about it but I knew I didn’t want anyone to know I knew about it.

But if fifth-grade puberty ed was like the naked-in-front-of-everyone nightmare then eighth-grade sex ed was like a meteor strike in your own living room. You know that unbelievable things happen but when they land right in front of you and incinerate your sense of normalcy the consternation feels very physical.

Mrs. O’Neill had kids so I knew she knew what sex was. But I couldn’t imagine her having it. Until she encouraged us to use a mirror to explore our genitalia.

A mirror, ladies. A mirror.

To really look at it and get to know our bodies. She told us to put said mirror on the ground and straddle it standing up. While the boys in class screeched the metal bar stools across the cement floor just to be obnoxious, I was mortified with a face-melting shame that made that fifth-grade lecture on maxi-pads and tampons seem like a cakewalk. A literal cakewalk. We used to have those at the annual carnival and it was even more fun than the dunk tank. But this. This jaw-dropping graceless perversion was astonishing. I was 13 or 14 and inexplicably felt like I was being singled out. Like she was talking to the whole class about my naked body. In retrospect, I have to say I admire what she did. But a lengthy preamble acknowledging how awkward things were about to get might have left us less slack-jawed and more open to hearing what she was about to say and why she was about to mind-fuck us.

What they don’t talk about in sex ed is intimacy. They don’t talk about love and generosity and bonding and body insecurity.

They talk about penetration, ejaculation, birth control and STDs. And then the scorched-earth campaign of gonorrhea and syphilis pics that make fucking a lit stick of dynamite seem like less of a gamble. (Cartoons were about as useful for teaching physics as sex ed is for teaching sexuality.)

They don’t teach you whom to sleep with. Or when. Or why. They don’t talk about the myriad reasons why or why not. Which, of course, we would much rather have heard adults talk about with honesty and vulnerability. All of our ancestors figured out how to follow their instincts to fuck each other. We can figure out the physical part. But we’ve evolved into beings that fuck with feelings. For complex reasons. This is the part teenagers need help navigating. And even though we would’ve been morbidly uncomfortable listening, (let alone asking questions), we damn well would’ve done it.

So here is what I wish teachers would have told us about blow jobs. I can only speak to what I know. So here is my heteronormative female perspective 23 years after my then-guy and I tried to figure it out on our own.

All rights © Sharon McCutcheon. Ogden, United States

A blowjob is not necessarily a natural and inevitable progression from hand-holding and making out. It can be. But it doesn’t have to be.

Boys: No one owes you a blowjob. Commit this to memory. Yes, they are apparently every bit as awesome as you have fantasized. It’s warm and wet and tight and it can be as psychologically satisfying as it is physically pleasurable. But know that you are not entitled to them. If you think you’d enjoy them, try to be the kind of guy we would want to pleasure in this intense way. Be the kind of guy a girl wants to excite. (More on this later.)

But before you start thinking about ways to earn blow jobs, take the time to learn what it is like to give one. As a physical endeavor it’s actually pretty invasive and aggressive. Which is not to say that it can’t be a really giving and loving and exciting thing to do for someone. But by and large, it is something you are doing *for* someone else. Not even with someone else, exactly. And certainly not for yourself. Which is not to say that women don’t enjoy doing it. But women only enjoying doing it under the circumstances that work for them. Which vary as much as women themselves do. You know, almost as if we were individuals. And as a (male) friend of mine pointed out, if women enjoyed giving blowjobs just for the sake of sucking dick then they’d be sucking on their vibrators and dildos when they masturbate too. (Spoiler alert: we don’t)

So know this. Giving a blowjob is a lot of work. And not like badminton or classic Nintendo kind of work. Yes, it can be repetitive and it can take forever. But you know how awful it is when you accidentally gag yourself while brushing your teeth? Have you ever done that, almost thrown up and then thought, Hey, I should get a fistful of toothbrushes and do this over and over again, faster and deeper until hot salty sludge explodes in my mouth? And then swallow that hot salty mess? No? Me neither.

So why didn’t the blowjob die out with the sabertooth salmon or four-toed horses? It’s aggressive and selfish and messy and certainly not necessary for procreation. But it can be a really beautiful endeavor too.

And it is much more beautiful with someone you care about. So before you unhinge your jaw and relax your gag reflex, ask yourself if the person you’re about to deepthroat cares about you too. Have they ever given you a backrub? If so, did they do it just to initiate physical contact with your bare skin? Or did it seem affectionate? Did it seem like it was an act in and of itself? Do they have a sweet nickname for you? Are you officially dating? Or are you friends who fool around? If this is FWB does this arrangement feel good for you or do you long for more?

Maybe you’d rather have your feet rubbed. Or your shoulders. But the point is, ask yourself if your partner/boyfriend/fwb/anonymous hookup does things that please you. Ask yourself if he only does things that give him pleasure or if he finds pleasure in giving it to you as well.

All rights © Lana Abie. Breakfast Point, Australia

So, boys. Men. Gentlemen. If you’ve watched a lot of porn you might think that the female mouth is a bonus vagina, designed for pounding. It. Is. Not. Those women are paid, (not enough), to pretend to enjoy it. They’re called mattress actresses for a reason. And don’t tell yourself that there’s anything physiologically different about the female face that biologically makes us better equipped to have our mouths fucked. There isn’t. It is literally the same as yours. So if you haven’t gagged on a handful of toothbrushes and then swallowed hot salty toothpaste as an act of solidarity, imagine literally any hard cylinder — dildo, vibrator, cucumber, chair leg — penetrating your mouth and pounding the back of your throat. That’s not to say women never enjoy being deepthroated. But don’t rape anyone’s face. Let her build up to the depth and speed she’s comfortable with and appreciate it for the spectacular feat of selflessness that it is.

Ladies. Do they moan while you do it? Do they tell you how good it feels? Do they stroke your hair while you run your tongue around the head? Does he get harder when you look up at him and make eye contact while you take him in deeper?

These are the kind of men that deserve the labour of love that is a good blowjob. (Don’t forget to cup the balls.)

Postscript: I completely forgot because I’m one of the apparently rare women who aren’t super into receiving oral sex. But most women are. Most women love it. Many women like it more than sex. So I should probably burn this draft, rewrite it and title it Make Sure He Goes Down on You First. This just underscores the importance of asking women what they like too. And then doing it — consistently.