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Oral Sex

Bruce Curtis

Subject Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality » Sociology of Sexuality

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Oral sex is broadly defined as oral-genital stimulation. Cunnilingus refers to oral-vaginal stimulation, fellatio to oral-penile stimulation, and analingus to anal-lingual stimulation. Across the sweep of sexual practices in human societies both historically and cross-culturally, oral sex figures in an extremely wide variety of forms, themselves valued in very different ways. The focus here is on oral sex within heterosexual relations, but oral sex plays an important part in homosexual relations. In some historical configurations of sexual practices in South Asia, for instance, the tasting of another man's semen was thought to stimulate the desire for heterosexual intercourse. In another configuration, fellatio was seen as a substitute for heterosexual intercourse, something to be received from a eunuch, but certainly not by a man from his wife. In the West, oral sex was often subject to legal prohibitions against “sodomy,” both hetero- and homosexual, and in some states in the US it remains a criminal offense. The location of oral sex in typical sequences of sexual practice has been immensely variable. Public attention has been focused recently on the shifting place of oral sex in the repertoire of western heterosexual practices. In Victorian erotic literature, cunnilingus or “gamahuching” was presented as both a pleasurable and a contraceptive practice. Authors of English-language ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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