Kinky life · Vicky

Doing cunnilingus the right way

A great feature at Nerve.com caught my eye this morning, called Gimme Shelter. It’s one man’s personal essay about cunnilingus – why he loves it. Thought-provoking and hugely fascinating read. Here it is:

As a bipolar manic depressive, I carry around a weird mixture of hubristic entitlement and wretched guilt. It’s as if I own the whole planet, only none of the air is mine and I keep stealing it by the lungful. My favorite way out — or deeper in, depending on how you see it — is cunnilingus. When I go down on a woman, and she’s coming, I’m glowing with quiet glee; having involved my whole face, I’m in there all the way, stealing air by the lungful. Despite the physical constraint, I find this so weirdly liberating. I’m starting to think it has something to do with my ambivalence about being a man.
Getting another human being to buzz around the ceiling with nothing more than my mouth is the best way I’ve found to ease my doubts about my place in the world. It’s also the way I keep myself inwardly androgynous at the level I like. With no brothers, and two very brilliant older sisters, I grew up painfully conflicted about being a man. Apparently, we take too much of everything (especially social space); we lack style, openness and manners; and our privileged social position demands a special vigilance about incurring women’s resentment. If only I were gay, I used to imagine, I could easily distance myself from that unflattering predicament. But, for all my snazzy trousers and posters of Bowie, I never once got a hard-on in a locker room, and my sexual adventures with guys were never as exciting as I had hoped. There’s something to be said for two lonely people jerking each other off, but for me, it’s not quite the real thing, and I’ve never gotten beyond that with a man.
Much of a man’s life is about avoiding being taken for the villain. When I’m industriously going down on a woman, there’s pretty much no way that I’m any of the things we all secretly suspect most men to be: a solipsistic, consumerist moron obsessed with himself, or an angry, date-raping moustache-post tooling for a fight. And all that tiresome clarification really is socially necessary, because plenty of guys do deserve those labels. I love life as a man, but it’s important to me that I also hate it. My favorite sexual partners have been women who were equally conflicted, equally suspicious of this genetic fiat whereby each of us only gets to experience half of what the human body can be and do sexually. Cunnilingus is the wedge that nudges open that impasse for me: as I please my partner, I round out my nature, vicariously reaching a missing part of me that is a woman, has a cunt and understands everything I’m doing from the other side.
Of course, there’s a practical side to my proclivity for giving head. Fucking can be glorious, but somebody has to be hard to do it, and that can get difficult: condoms restrict sensation, and they also mean something that’s more than unexciting — it’s terrifying. I take a condom out of its little paper house, and it says, “Good thing you remembered, because without me you’re potentially dead, and she’s potentially pregnant. Put the two together, and you could be a dying, baby-making microbe warehouse, flooded with oceanic regret. Now suit up and have a good time!” Despite this vertiginous pep talk, I often manage to enjoy myself, and sometimes there’s even a return of the good old days, when my college girlfriend and I used to go on endless sweat-pouring voyages deep into the next afternoon, hour after borderless hour. But now that I’m thirty-two, screwing is not quite that central, all-important vanishing point of desire. And with a condom I’m neither as vulnerable nor quite as exhilarated. No wonder I find myself sometimes wanting something else, with no condom, less physical exertion and a different range of feelings.
With my face between a woman’s legs, I get into a logy, doped-out state, despite my rational attention to the actions of my tongue and lips and jaw. If I’m only messing around, and not in love, my mood slides into something aloof and private and I feel like I’m elsewhere, watching this happen. But if I’m in love, it’s very different: I feel abundantly welcome, content to stay. My entire face gets glazed, eyes to chin, both nostrils hidden in her vagina, and after a long time of having the alphabet licked onto it, her clitoris starts skiing up and down the bridge of my nose. One person insisted on having her clit relentlessly mauled (“a bite as hard as lips can make it,” wrote Keats in a letter); another couldn’t stand direct contact till close to the end. Figuring out who likes what is intuitive and fun (unless she talks about it, which is even more fun — and just as intuitive, as you try to simultaneously follow and bloom unpredictably beyond her instructions). Cooling down from all the action at headquarters, the curve at the bottom of the vulva becomes incredibly dear. In fact, I find myself ministering to these different areas as though I were rescuing each of them from boredom, from loneliness, from being left out. You too, right outer labia! Urethral sponge, you will not be abandoned! Using my tongue but not saying a word, I’m distributing both acknowledgement and pleasure.
The human face is full of sense organs that are always gathering information and distracting you from the deep, silent slab of self-consciousness. Buried, I feel my face shut down, my eyes go black and my nose and tongue close in on one thing. That there is a world at all, rather than nothingness, is a lot easier to appreciate when you can only perceive one thing in it. Maybe that mystical feeling is just the blush of arousal, but something about wetting my cheeks at the body of my lover gives me a thrill that seems almost religious.
Maybe I’m trying to abject myself, or exalt myself, or save the world. But none of these explanations rings true. Neither does the notion that I’m out to make amends: I know that giving a woman head isn’t going to end misogyny or create equal pay for equal work. But however small the scale may be, I think by demonstrating, over and over, that someone can do something orgasmic for someone else, I’m healing some of the cynicism all around us (or at least within me). I’m warding off self-hatred, and the misanthropy that, in the words of Philip Larkin, “runs just under all we do.” When I’m in love and going down on someone, my motives and anxieties dissolve; nobody’s mad at anybody and everything’s temporarily okay.
Eating pussy looks like bottoming because you’re servicing the Queen, but it’s also topping because you’re gradually turning her into a big spaz. With the control traded back and forth until it gets lost between the two of us, I get to join her beyond the biology that we inherited by accident, and beyond its social significance. From my perspective, fucking is the way to get into being male and have a blast with it, building towers and launching rockets. Cunnilingus is less of a thing to do and more of a place to go; a shelter from the gender-storm, built far beyond its limits and always receiving pilgrims. 

Frankly, I love to read stories like this – partly because it always helps to ease my mind about men’s feelings on the subject, and partly because it’s an illuminating glimpse into how men think about sex. Men surprise me sometimes, and delightfully so.If you’re like me and enjoy reading about men’s feelings on this intimate and pleasure-giving act, I’ve got a couple more links to share with you:

:: Snacking (Salon)

:: The Cunnilingus FAQ (Everything.com)

If you know of other opinion articles on cunnilingus (not so much how-to’s, per se), drop me a line.

Changing the subject: just when you think you’re all over it, that you’re a 29 year old woman who’s finally beaten down the demons of your early twenties, something always comes along to smack you upside the face and prove that you are still in thrall to the bad habits and choices about men that plagued your early years. I’ve waxed poetic here often enough about the fact that women don’t love men who treat them like crap (you’ll have to scroll down a bit, the entry is called the problem with men) and I, in particular, am so over that little problem. Then I stop by Salon for my daily dose, skim through Falling for the bad boy and realize that there are some uncomfortable parallels to my own life.

Heh. An illumination I could have done without.

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