Sex is such a tiny word for such a wide range of experience. Something to be had intimately with one person for a very long time, always finding more nuance. Or something to experience with a variety of people, or even perhaps genders, finding that what lovers want can be as different as there are people on earth.

We all do it, or want to do it, and when we’re not doing it we’re thinking about it or discussing it. Though of course what we say, to whom we say it, and even what we allow ourselves to enjoy is influenced by our culture and social surroundings.

I’ve been intimate with a few Iranian women. The sex was, of course, different from one to the next, some were more experienced, some knew more what they wanted, or were more daring. But the one thing that stuck out is that when we first got intimate, all were ashamed of receiving oral sex.

Our cultures have viewed cunnilingus in different ways, ranging from Chinese Taoists considering it a sacred art to the TV mobsters of the hit series the Sopranos considering a man who gives oral sex to be less masculine.

Scientists at any rate consider it an integral part of our species. Bonobos who are (together with their cousins the Chimpansees) our closest ape relatives, have sex for reproductive reasons, for forming social bonds and for reasons of relaxation and stress reduction. It’s no wonder that with such a variety of reasons they make extensive use of cunnilingus. But also we, homo sapiens, had evolutionary benefit for including cunnilingus in our repertoire. Our forefathers could by taste and smell detect infections and other deseases as well as the presence of sperm by a rival, allowing for decisions that would enhance reproductive success. In simple language, the reason your forefather had a bigger chance of survival and passed on his genes rather than his rival was because your forefather indulged in oral sex and the rival didn’t.

Considering all this I was more than a bit surprised to face this repeated shame, especially among the more sexually liberated women of our society. Luckily one of my previous sexual partners was kind enough to open up about what oral sex meant for her.

It took a while for me to get used to and even enjoy oral sex. Where you want to put your face is a place we’ve been tought from childhood is dirty. So you would use your tongue and lips to stir in dirt, and you want to talk to me and kiss me with that mouth? We’re ashamed of you smelling or tasting the insides, but also the hair surrounding it. Even now we call the hair ezafeh (redundant), but in the past we had words like shame associated with it.

There is however another stigma attached to it. In our minds we’re uncomfortable with a sex act so centered on our female pleasure. During penetration you (the woman) might enjoy it, but there’s no question it’s also about the man. At best you are equals shifting and finding positions that get both of you off. It’s a shame that we subconsciously are uncomfortable with an act that is meant for our pleasure, as if there’s something wrong with a woman just receiving pleasure. Luckily I learned that not only is there no shame in receiving pleasure, it can also be just as pleasurable for the one giving it.

What do you think, has she told me everything? Are there thoughts you’d like to contribute? Let’s keep the conversation going and make oral sex less of a taboo to discuss.