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The Naked Reader Book Club: Going Down, an Oral History, Part 1

The Naked Reader Book Club: Going Down, an Oral History, Part 1
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June is a month that honors many things. Among its most delightful designations: Oral Sex Month. In honor of this fine tradition, in the coming weeks, our Naked Reader selections will be consumed with all things oral, sensual and pleasurable.

  From Sin to Sensation

Just a scant hundred years ago, according to the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality: A Genealogy of the Genital Kiss—Oral Sex in the Twentieth Century, “Oral sex occasionally flickered in the dim light of the courtroom as an instance of ‘cruelty’ in divorce petitions.” That dark-age idea of not mixing business with pleasure—and sex was about the business of procreation and not the pleasure of enjoying yourself and your partner hung in there as the century progressed—and still does for some people. It wasn’t until 2003 that the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws against sodomy unconstitutional.

However, at the same time as the advent of the acknowledged need for contraception gathered momentum, the idea of sexual satisfaction helping to secure marital stability was also gaining ground.

Foreplay—with an emphasis on “play”—was a relatively new concept in sex. The husband was cast in the role of a tutor who was tasked with helping his wife to feel comfort and arousal: “The teacher-pupil construction of the heterosexual relationship provided the context in which explicit attention to oral sex entered the discursive universe of the marriage manuals. Oral sex makes its appearance cautiously within a specifically physiological context. The physiology of the male tutor’s duty of arousal is the necessity of lubricating the vagina, which is essential for female comfort…Cunnilingus thus enters, not as a form of sexual pleasure for either the female or the male, but rather as an obligation essential to secure the physiological conditions for successful coitus.”

You know what? As long as it enters.

While that undercurrent of discomfort with non-procreative sex persisted, fellatio was quietly integrated into the normal sexual bag of tricks until pop culture got loud about it in the 1970s. It was a golden moment in U.S. culture that would last about ten minutes: couples going to mainstream theaters to watch hardcore porn films as part of a trendy night out on the town. In 1972, the film to see was Deep Throat, about a woman who discovers she has an unsatisfying sex life because her clitoris is located in the back of her throat. Guess what the answer to her problem is?

“They saw it demonstrated on the screen, and all of a sudden it was on the map,” author Camille Paglia told Time magazine in 1994. “Next thing you knew, it was in Cosmo with rules about how to do it.”

By the ’80s it wasn’t so much whether to do it but when to stop: to swallow or not to swallow, which our guru, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (1986) urges women to keep open the possibility that “sometime” they might try it!

But Dr. Ruth’s, “What the hey?” approach didn’t involve the married President of the United States diddling an intern in the oval office, nor was she burbling at you 24/7 from CNN. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that would come in the next decade was an overwhelmingly big deal—at least it seemed like one at the time. But has it really effected how we see sex?

Next time, a look at how the most infamous blowjob in modern history has changed the way we define sex today. Damn! If only Monica had swallowed…


To purchase the Naked Reader Book Club selections, visit the Naked Reader Book Club Store.

The Naked Reader Book Club Selections for June 2010
The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio by Violet Blue The Ultimate Guide to Cunniligus by Violet Blue
Tasting Him–Oral Sex Stories Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel Tasting Her–Oral Sex Stories Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

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04/15/2012

Join venerated erotica publisher Cleis Press, EdenFantasys and SexIs in an ongoing online book club for inquiring minds who love to read about all things sexual—from the politics of pornography to the erotically evocative boundaries of desire.

News, meeting announcements, reviews, book readings and more can be found on The Naked Reader Book Club Blog.

Featured Books from Cleis Press
To find out about upcoming featured titles, visit The Naked Reader Book List for a listing of books to be featured in the coming months.

The Naked Reader Book Club Store
Visit the official NRBC store to purchase past, present and future featured book titles.

Reviews
2- 4 books are featured each month and reviewed by a select group of Eden Fantasys Contributors. Reviews are highlighted on the NRBC Blog.

Book Club Meetings
The Naked Reader Book Club meets twice a month to discuss a selected book. Visit the Naked Reader Book Club Blog for a calendar of scheduled meetings.

If you are interested in more information on the Naked Reader Book Club, please email The Naked Reader.

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