Down there. It's a place not every guy wants to go. Unfortunately, that means some women are not experiencing the sexual pleasure they deserve. In fact, one story of a man's refusal to take the trip south has caused quite the stir online. And he's not alone — only 55% of men have performed oral sex on women, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. But there are some men who are happy to please their partners.
For the guys who spoke to Mic, it was an important step in their sexual progressions. Heterosexual men ready for intimacy, but not intercourse, spoke to Mic about their first time performing cunnilingus, why guys should go down on their girlfriends and the politics of squirt.
Chris was 15 years old, sitting with his girlfriend watching a PG-13 movie when he did it for the first time. They sat under a blanket, naked from the waist down. And then she gave him a look.
"She was kind of like, 'I don't know what to do right now, what do you want to do?' and then she was like, 'You could just go for it, that's OK," Chris told Mic. "I was nervous, but excited. I was a confident young man; I wanted to go for it and try it."
Chris said he was mainly nervous about getting caught and spent probably less than a minute total under the blanket. Chris's older brother congratulated him but also told him to "do his research" and not to "be a noob about this." Chris began researching techniques, though he wouldn't get up at bat again until two years later with a different girlfriend.
"I spent a lot of time looking at her face to see if what I was doing had a positive effect," he said. "I'm not going to be so arrogant as to say that the first time I went down on a girl she came, but it seemed good."
Chris shared his feelings about going down on a girl for the first time.
"You know what, the only thing I can remember is that there was a sense of 'this feels like the right thing to do,'" he said. "I've always been a guy who wants to do the right thing and be good to my woman.'"
As Chris got better and better, he said he loved it more and more. He really started to love going down on women during college when he dated a girl with a "particularly wonderful vulva." They were both excited, relaxed and familiar with each other.
Chris said, that while he did talk about sex with male friends and brothers growing up, cunnilingus was not spoken about as regularly among men as other sex acts. Despite it not being a big topic of conversation, it's still something he loves to do.
"It just makes me 100% ready to go. Sometimes, my girlfriend is like, 'Hey man, I need a second' and I'm like 'I can't wait!'"
Scotty understands Chris's excitement. He's loved cunnilingus since he was 13, when his girlfriend requested that he try it out, and he couldn't say no. The second time was with a friend, also at 13. His friend swiped a porn from her older brother and as they watched the actors go down on each other, she requested Scotty try it on her. She finished in Scotty's mouth.
"I was surprised, but I was super excited and it really turned me on," Scotty told Mic. He still maintains that excitement about the act today. "You have the ability to do something so good for someone. It's like 'I've got a skill!' It's a job well done."
After his early forays, word got around that he was willing to get the job done — and that he did it well.
"I ate like five of my friends out in the eighth grade," he said.
To further his studies, Scotty turned to the best source he could: his town's lesbian population and a small hardcover book that he stole from his local library. From them, he learned more about the female anatomy than his friends or school were ever able to teach him.
Scotty said his male friends never talked about sex and they certainly didn't know as much about vaginas as they should have. He has one older brother, 18 years his senior, who never spoke to him about sex. Scotty's only sex education from school included a projector film about reproduction.
"They took the guys aside and told us about nocturnal emissions, and that was locker room talk until two years later," he said.
Scotty said that lack of knowledge about women's bodies breeds stigma.
"I think women worry about the smell. There's a lot of stigma attached to pussy," he said. I asked him if he felt the pressure was similar to women having to adhere to certain societal beauty standards.
"Oh gosh, even moreso," he said. "I think it's magnified even more so because sex is so important for men. Your vagina is supposed to smell like a flower, be very tight and have a very small labia."
Ryan was 16 and in his basement. Like Scotty, Ryan had to seek out and create his own cunnilingus curriculum.
"I didn't talk to any of my friends about that stuff, but I used to read dirty novels and dirty fan fiction, because I was a sad, lonely boy," Ryan jokingly told Mic. Ryan said he would read fan fiction written by women that included female characters. From this erotic fiction, he'd learn what women wanted from a sexual partner.
Ryan had his first experience at 16 in his basement with his then-girlfriend. He asked her if it was all right if he explored on her. Unlike other sex acts, Ryan said, cunnilingus has a lot of indicators as to whether you're good at it. "You really have your finger and your tongue, if you're doing it right, on the pulse of the person."
Ryan said that casual sex partners have felt awkward asking for it. Even more uncomfortable — the only time he ever dealt with squirt, the girl was so embarrassed she barred him from revisiting her down there.
I asked Ryan if he felt there was a difference in the way that men approach squirt and women approach cum. He said he thinks everyone has an unnecessary fear of bodily fluids.
"I think that America has a huge hang-up on what happens when you come," he said. Ryan said every girl, up until he was 19, found ways to avoid his semen, to the point that he had always felt his bodily fluids were a negative thing. It's something, he said, that we all need to get over, especially since bodily fluid is a part of good sex.
"I can't think of one person, man or woman, who doesn't get off on the idea of being really good at sex," he said. "Everybody who has been in bed and has been excited about it wants to be good at it and wants to give and wants to receive."
21 was not only an important age for Adele — it was also the first time Frank went down on his girlfriend. They were trying to find ways to be physically intimate without necessarily going right to intercourse.
"She said exploring the physical side of the relationship is important for her so we talked about what other things would be good for us to do leading up to the point of intercourse and we talked about respective oral sex," Frank told Mic.
Frank said his first time was good, and that it only took a few more experiences for him to begin to love it. He liked being able to give his girlfriend pleasure, but, he said, there was a learning curve.
"I had only ever seen it on, like, Sex and the City, when Samantha talks about it, and that's all I was going off [of] ... my pop-culture knowledge of it," he said.
That pop culture knowledge came in handy for Frank, who said that growing up, his male friends were much more apt to discuss blowjobs or intercourse than oral sex on women. Because practice makes perfect, Frank's oral sex prowess is now a point of pride.
"It became this feeling of 'Wow, I'm doing this, I and I alone am ... giving her pleasure,'" he said. "There's a sense of having a special ability, like 'I can do this for you,' and 'I can make you feel that way.' It aroused me, I enjoy it, too."
Though Frank says he's never dealt with squirt, he said he fully expected it when he went down on his girlfriend for the first time, and they actually had a conversation when there was none.
Overall, Frank said he thought men who don't go down on their girlfriends are "rude" and "selfish," but that he understood that the media plays a part in our perceptions of vaginas.
"TV shows that you see depict oral sex on men, but very rarely depict oral sex on women," he said. "That makes it seem rarer and uncommon and occasionally even taboo."