In Defense of 'Pro-Clit Feminism,' Or Why Men Should Definitely Be Eating More Pussy

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Let's get one thing straight: Straight women and straight men do not have sexual equality. Generally speaking, women are still having fewer orgasms during sex than men, an issue that is typically referred to as the orgasm gap. That, to put it mildly, is some bullshit.

A great way to rectify the problem, however, is to start paying attention to what women want — which, for a great many, is clitoral stimulation in the form of oral sex. That said, there are certainly plenty who don't enjoy having their clits licked – as highlighted by a recent essay in Fusion –who should be spared the unpleasantness of having their clits licked. 

In her piece, writer Charlotte Shane argues that cunnilingus shouldn't be a standard, expected, automatically on-the-table sex act. In fact, she points out, there are many women who don't enjoy receiving oral sex — and their male partners shouldn't be making them feel bad or guilty about that. 

Source: Giphy

In her piece, Shane (correctly) notes that after a long history of men ignoring the intricacies (or basic existence of) the clitoris, the paradigm has finally started to shift, resulting in straight men becoming more willing to give head. These days, eating pussy is not only more culturally accepted than ever, but also considered cool, with rappers like Lil Wayne openly bragging about their oral sex skills. 

For the significant proportion of women who don't climax from vaginal intercourse alone (75%, according to one study), that's a very, very good thing. But for women who don't enjoy receiving oral sex, Shane argues, the rise of what she deems "pro-clit feminism" is something of a problem. In fact, she says, it's created a situation where men are so eager to eat women out that ladies "pretty much have to physically fight guys off to stop them from latching onto us with their mouths": 

We've gone so far that we're back in a place where many women are pressured into pretending they enjoy something that doesn't feel that good to them or else be shamed when they turn it down...  outspokenly progressive, allegedly enlightened dudes [are] accusing any woman resistant to a certain type of sex (oral, casual, or simply with them) as standing in the way of revolution.

The thing is, though, these "outspokenly progressive, allegedly enlightened dudes" who are reportedly desperate to get their mouths on women's vulvae are still in the minority. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, just 55% of young men between the ages of 20 and 24 said they had performed oral sex on their partners in the past year, compared to 74% of women in the same age group. This disparity is still significant enough to warrant a larger conversation about a double standard when it comes to heterosexual sex. 

That's especially true given how many guys still think it's "gross" to go down on women, and, relatedly, how many women still don't get the clitoral stimulation they need in order to get off. When an estimated three-quarters of women can't climax from intercourse alone and oral sex has been proven to help, it tells us something: If men don't want to be selfish lovers, they sure as hell need to be willing to eat pussy. 

Source: Giphy

It's certainly true that when giving head is framed as empowering for men, there will be straight dudes who feel they deserve to be rewarded with a cookie or a pat on the back every time they put their face between a woman's legs. That's precisely the problem, though: Cunnilingus hasn't yet been normalized to the point that men are regularly giving head for giving head's sake. It's still largely perceived as transactional, something you do to receive pleasure in return. 

The push to get straight guys to perform oral sex is in service of normalizing the act, not forcing it on women who don't want it. But we're not yet at a point where we've accomplished that goal.

We're also not at a point where people feel comfortable communicating with their partners about what they want, which is at the heart of Shane's concerns about women who don't feel like they're allowed to dislike getting head. But this lack of communication in the bedroom is not limited to women who don't like getting eaten out. Research has shown an inordinately low number of couples discuss what they do and don't like in bed, because we still live in a culture that doesn't leave enough room for anyone, especially women, to talk about what they want.

When people communicate with their partners about what they like and want, it makes for better sex all around, regardless of who you are or who you have sex with. Talking more means listening more, which means there should be pressure on men to respect their partners when they say they're not into something, whether it's oral sex or any other sex act. 

It's dangerous to suggest, however, that straight men shouldn't incorporate cunnilingus into their basic sexual repertoire. There is still too little education about female anatomy, too much "mystery" about women's orgasms and too much shame around women's bodies to discourage men from performing a sex act that tons of women enjoy — and if some women don't like it, then they should just say so. 

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Jenny Kutner

Jenny Kutner is a senior reporter at Mic, covering feminism, reproductive justice and sexual violence. She is a native Texan based in New York. Send tips or friendly messages to jenny@mic.com.

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