Thoughts About Women and Oral Sex After Visiting the NYC Sex Museum
By Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
March 15, 2009
Time: 11:26 p.m.
I was on my spring break and felt like I should do something "wild" since historically, spring break is the week that college students are supposed to "let loose." Since I am a 41-year-old student and not 18 anymore, I felt like making a visit to the New York City Museum of Sex was about as wild as I was going to get during spring break. So, for the price of $11.50 ($3.00 coupon deducted from the original price), I spent two hours roaming the exhibit halls of the Museum of Sex fantasizing about the life I wish I had.
The first floor of the museum had an exhibit about the sex lives of animals. Although it was interesting and challenged the whole notion of what people believe to be natural versus unnatural in relation to sex and sexuality (i.e., heterosexuality/homosexuality, two genders versus more than one gender, etc.), I found it a little theory-heavy and less kinky than I had hoped for.
I quickly moved to the second floor to view the "Sex and the Moving Image" exhibit and found a porn fest happening. Hello! This was basically the history of sex in movies, television, etc. It was awesome and I really enjoyed looking at the exhibit. I also found that it made some of my co-patrons a little "in the mood," if you know what I am saying. I guess it is a challenge to watch porn and not feel aroused!
The final exhibit was the permanent collection. It consisted of a wide array of artifacts. I saw an original Sheik condom display case, a booklet entitled Pussy Eating for Everybody, and one booklet on HIV/AIDS. I have to admit that I was tempted to break into the display case and take a look at the Pussy Eating for Everybody book, but unfortunately I was under the scornful eye of a security guard. Damn it!
Ironically, one of my favorite parts of the museum was the gift shop. Besides the rockin' music played by the staff (read: Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, etc), they had the coolest items for purchase. They had condom lollipops, condom key chains and even a book entitled Make Your Own Sex Toys. This book explained how to make your own sex toys out of the most common household items. Who knew that you could make a sex toy out of a bar of soap ... or your cell phone?
As I was walking through the museum, I saw lots of references to oral sex. There was information on oral sex between animals, oral sex between humans and even a Japanese anime video in which the characters perform oral sex on one another.
All of this oral sex imagery flying at me made (me) think about a few things. For one thing, from my perspective as an HIV educator, I realized that most "safer sex" information is provided in relation to vaginal-penile intercourse and anal sex. It is hard for most people to find detailed information on oral sex. This is pretty sad given that lots of women (and men) love receiving and giving oral sex.
In fact, I think oral sex is one of my favorite things in life. I rank it up there with my love for food and music -- and I rank those activities fairly high! However, I really don't like giving oral sex. I have given oral sex in the past but if I have the option, I usually decline. At this point in my life, I really think I would have to take a class on how to give a good blow job to feel confident in my skills. Honestly, I just don't have the time or money at this point to consider it as a serious academic option.
Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine writes in her book, The Female Brain, that men think about sex every 52 seconds, while women tend to think of it just once a day. I think about it more than once a day ... at least when it comes to oral sex. I think oral sex is one of the greatest inventions ever made, and since it is considered a lower-risk behavior for HIV, I feel more inclined to engage in it than other sexual behaviors.
Giving good oral sex is a talent. I have had the pleasure of being with several men who should have won several Academy Awards for their oral performance in a romantic comedy! I have also met some people who could have benefited from some type of instructional manual (a really informative manual is The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus: How to Go Down on a Woman and Give Her Exquisite Pleasure by Violet Blue.)
So given my love of oral sex -- and I am joined by millions of other women -- it's too bad that when you do find information on oral sex, it seems to be focused on someone performing oral sex on a penis. So what do we do with this hard-to-define risk category of oral sex ... and more importantly, what information is out there for people who love to go down on a woman?
I decided to see what was out there on the Internet. I searched for several hours. I had no problem finding information on giving males oral sex. I found lots of tips on giving a man oral sex.
So what about going down on a woman?
I really don't believe that most people think about safer oral sex when it comes to going down on a woman. They would be surprised to read that the Brown University health education Web site reports that a woman receiving oral sex is much more at risk for getting herpes or gonorrhea from her partner than HIV during this sexual behavior. This is because a woman is just exposed to someone's saliva while receiving oral sex and saliva can't transmit HIV, thus unless someone has bad bleeding gums, a woman cannot get HIV this way.
Over and over again, almost everything I read reinforced this point saying that a woman receiving oral sex is only at theoretical risk for HIV. A woman's primary risk when receiving oral sex is for herpes infection, since the person giving you oral sex could have an oral herpes lesion on their lip and transmit it to your vagina. And despite the fact that health educators tell people to use dental dams or Saran Wrap, or to cut a condom open to use as a barrier when performing oral sex on a woman, I wonder how many people actually use these products.
I really wish there was one place women could go to get information on safer oral sex (and cheaply priced dental dams -- those bad boys are not so easy to find in my 'hood). It is too bad that there isn't a "one-stop shop" Web site for oral sex information and products for women.
It would be nice to read information, place your order, wait for the mailman, lie back (literally) and enjoy the rest of your evening. So, if anyone knows of any good oral sex Web site(s), shoot me an email! And for the next guy I date, be ready to provide references from past partners on your ability to give good oral sex ... and bring plenty of Saran Wrap!
P.S. TheBody.com has plenty of information about oral sex.
To contact Terri, please e-mail email@example.com.
Working in the Frontlines of the HIV Pandemic Since 1989
Terri Wilder is a social worker who has worked in HIV for nearly two decades. She has written numerous articles about HIV, and has presented at HIV conferences around the United States. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology at Georgia State University.
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July 6, 2009 - Eight Characteristics of Long-Term Survivors of HIV/AIDS: A Blog Entry by Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
March 15, 2009 - Thoughts About Women and Oral Sex After Visiting the NYC Sex Museum: A Blog Entry by Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
September 25, 2008 - The Death of an HIV/AIDS Organization: A Blog Entry by Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
July 27, 2008 - Standing My Ground With Latex: A Blog Entry by Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
June 12, 2008 - Where Is the Martin Luther King Jr. of HIV? A Blog Entry by Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
Articles by Terri:
Twenty-Seven Years of Women Living With HIV:
Past, Present and Future (January 1, 2008)
For the rest of Terri's articles, click here.
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