Women regard cunnilingus “as among the most pleasurable heterosexual behaviors,” and some women are receiving and enjoying it more than others, research suggests. Studies of cunnilingus have provided great insight into what is different about these women and why they get more out of sex.
When you hear “oral sex,” who do you automatically imagine is performing the oral sex? Most likely, you will imagine a woman performing oral sex on a man. The media deserve a great part of the blame for this; fellatio is shown much more often than cunnilingus, and when cunnilingus is shown, it is usually only in the context of sexual intercourse or comedic scenarios (Bay-Cheng & Fava, 2010).
“Many youth are influenced by and view television and movies as sources of sexual education (Bay-Cheng & Fava);” therefore we end up associating oral sex with fellatio, specifically. Women themselves tend to say that fellatio is expected, but it would be weird if cunnilingus were expected.
In reality, the prevalence of cunnilingus has increased to levels almost equaling those of fellatio since oral sex has become extremely popular among adolescents and young adults (Bay-Cheng & Fava). Then why is cunnilingus still not as expected by women as fellatio is?
The prevalence of douches, scented pads/tampons, bikini waxes, and even “cosmetic genital surgery” (Reinholtz & Muehlenhard, 1995) are indicative of the “stigmatization of female genitalia” that women face. Even the star of the movie Twilight, idolized by many adolescent girls, had said, “I really hate vaginas. I’m allergic to vagina” (Bay-Cheng & Fava). No wonder women are worried about the taste, smell, and look of their genitalia.
Cunnilingus requires the woman’s partner to be up-close and personal with her genitalia, more so than during intercourse. In order to get the utmost pleasure from receiving oral sex, she should not be worrying about the appearance, smell, and taste of her genitalia.
Although it is easier said than done, this is extremely important because women who perceive their genitals negatively get less pleasure out of cunnilingus. The study even suggests that improvement of “genital perceptions” should be used in Sex/Couple Therapy (Reinholtz & Muehlenhard).
Some questionnaire and survey studies about cunnilingus provide strong evidence for the following:
- Women worry most about their genitalia during oral sex than any other sexual activity (Reinholtz & Muehlenhard)
- Women who have positive feelings about their genitalia tend to engage in more sexual activity, and get more pleasure out of it (Reinholtz & Muehlenhard)
- Young women who subjectively (they need not be perceived as attractive by others) have more attractive bodies are more likely to have ever received oral sex (Wiedermann & Hurst, 1998).
- Young women who subjectively have more attractive faces tend to have a greater number of sexual partners (Wiedermann & Hurst).
- Young women with greater “sexual esteem” believe themselves to be more attractive (Wiedermann & Hurst).
- The women “with greater sexual openness, self-awareness, and assertiveness” are associated with both earlier cunnilingus experience and more cunnilingus partners (Bay-Cheng & Fava).
Women who are comfortable with themselves and their bodies and are not afraid to ask for what they want get the cunnilingus. Although these are correlation studies and it is possible that receiving oral sex causes the woman to become sexually assertive, the findings provide strong evidence that a woman’s self-esteem and sexual esteem play significant roles in her sex life and how much she enjoys it.
If there really is a “deep-seated cultural disdain for female genitalia,” as Bay-Cheng and Fava state in their article, how should we help young women become more confident about their genitalia so that they can have more healthy and pleasurable sex lives?
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