It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
I honestly do not care about silly lists like the one featured on Cosmo’s website. Yet what caught my eye was pettiness of some the reasons not to perform oral sex. Granted, the list is meant as a joke, but can anyone imagine a man writing a similar list about reasons not to perform oral sex on women and it being taken as a joke and not an example of sexism?
But that is not what made me want to write about it. This was:
6. It’s uncircumcised and it freaks you out. You are under no obligation to put your mouth on a penis that you regard as alien and unusual in any way.
A uncircumcised penis is not unusual or alien; it is the natural state of the penis. Again, imagine a man wrote something like that about the natural state of a woman’s body.
To the readers’ credit, some of them complained about the comment, prompting Cosmo to change it to this:
6. If anything about putting your face down there makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you’ve never been around a really enormous penis, or an uncircumcised one, or a really short and fat one. Be nice about it (he can’t change it, after all, and maybe you’ll come to like it!) but you are under no obligation to put your mouth on a penis that freaks you out. If you want to give it a try, ask him about it. He probably has some tips.
The site also added this explanation at the bottom of the list:
(Ed. note: No. 6 has been rephrased to reflect that lack of circumcision is no reason to refuse oral sex. If it makes you uncomfortable, talk to your partner about how you can both have a comfortable, enjoyable experience.)
Well, that is not entirely true. Unless English reads differently for the editors at Cosmo than it does for everyone else, the sixth item is still on a list of reasons not to give oral sex to men, and “improved” version still treats the lack of circumcision as a legitimate reason not to perform oral sex.
Again, can anyone imagine the response if a man declared that he did not want to perform oral sex on a woman because she did not change the natural state of her body to suit his desire? We do not have to imagine it. Jill of Feministe graced us with her response to men refusing to perform oral sex on menstruating women:
I have met a grand total of one dude in my entire life who was like “no” on the period sex (for the record, he wasn’t saying no in the moment; it was a general conversation, not a negotiation). His reasoning was “it’s gross.” And when I stopped seeing him approximately 24 hours after that conversation, my reasoning was, “I don’t want to be with someone who thinks that a natural, healthy uterus-having body is gross.” Do you have a right to refuse to have period sex because you think bleeding vaginas be nasty? Of course. And do I have a right to leave your ass and think less of you because of that? You betcha. Because it does come down to misogyny, basically — most pre-menopausal people with uteruses and vaginas who are old enough to consent to sex bleed once a month. Vaginas do not exist as sterile, liquid-free penis receptacles (although I hear there’s a toy for that). Lots of healthy vaginas expel blood. And if you think that’s gross, well, maybe spend your naked extracurricular time with someone who is vagina-free (exception to the “you’re kind of a dick if you think periods are disgusting” rule: People who are universally freaked out by any kind of blood and just can’t handle the sight of it).
Would it be fair for someone to respond to the author of the Cosmo piece with something like this:
I mean, look: If you have a spine issue that makes the head angle excruciatingly painful, ok, I get that. I do not doubt that straight men exist who don’t eat pussy for some reason other than being misogynist assholes. But I don’t think, for the most part, neck injuries are why dudes refuse to give oral sex (although — and this may be related to the fact that dudes are somewhat hesitant to say woman-hating things around feminist bloggers — I have never actually met a dude who said he didn’t like giving oral sex. I have heard they exist, though, and they sound terrible).
A general rule of thumb is that you should not do anything you do not want to do. If you find a certain sex act disgusting or uncomfortable, do not do it. You have every right not to want to do it for whatever reason. However, to treat someone who deigned not to alter their body as “freakish” and “alien” is cruel. To use that choice as an excuse not to perform a sex act on them is sexist.
No one is saying you have to put an uncut penis in your mouth. However, you do not get to make someone feel ashamed of their body just because of that. Genitals look weird, so I would keep the “freak” and “alien” comments to a minimum. After all, you would not want men to turn a highly critical eye to the “doughy biscuits with a pimple on top” (as one of my cousins once called it) between your legs.