What’s the Deal with Swallowing?

The issue with swallowing is not tied to the porn or the act itself but to the perceived obligation to swallow.

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Swallowing Cum, a Negatively Connoted Sexual Practice

There is a notion that mainstream pornography popularised the act of swallowing semen and this sexual act is demeaning. But the problem doesn’t lie with porn or the act itself; it stems from the fact that we think that we have to swallow.

Because we have seen it in porn many times, we feel like we need to do it in our personal lives. We forget that every person is different, and each of us enjoys intimacy in different ways. Some people genuinely enjoy swallowing their partner’s semen, because they like the taste of semen and the intimacy of the act.

A friend confessed, “Spitting is too messy, feels unsexy and breaks the mood”. On the other hand, some penis owners derive pleasure from their partner swallowing. For them, everything else that happens before is more exciting than the final gulp.

Porn and Sexual Desire

People were actively performing fellatio long before its “popularisation” in porn. Beforehand, we probably didn’t think “Do I have to swallow now”; we just ended the act in whatever way was pleasurable. Porn didn’t invent sex; it merely visualised it and brought it to the public eye. And, frankly, we should be thankful for that as it initiated discourse around different forms of sexual pleasure. Frederick Toates, an author and professor of Biological Psychology, says “Erotica and pornography permit understanding of how sexual desire works.”

In the beginning, on-screen representation of pleasure was quite limited. For the last 50 years, cis heterosexual men have created the most porn, and they tend to depict sexual pleasure from their perspective to satisfy their needs. There were pervasive assumptions that porn catered only to cis hetero men and that cis women are not entitled to pleasure. Fortunately, this narrow view is changing; women can and should contribute to pornography. Their voice is essential. However, this doesn’t diminish the value of “old-fashioned” pornography or the cis heterosexual male viewpoint. It’s essential to consider ethical production, consent, avoidance of discriminatory stereotypes, and ensuring pleasure for all involved. As long as these criteria are met, it’s perfectly acceptable to give yourself permission to enjoy porn or let it serve as a source of inspiration.

It’s one thing to draw inspiration from what we observe in porn and another to replicate it in real life. Social learning theory posits that we acquire knowledge about sex through imitation. If an individual is consistently exposed to a sexual image, they attempt to interpret this message by internalising it. If it appeals to them, they might incorporate it into their sex life.

The likelihood of repeating and adopting this behaviour as their own depends on the consequences—whether their partners appreciate it or not. Is this wrong? I don’t believe so; it’s inherent in who we are. We learn something, enjoy it and seek more of it. However, in the internet age, what we see is often not a deliberate choice. Algorithms suggest content, and we go along with it. When sexually aroused, one doesn’t wish to browse endless internet sites; you take what’s given. So it may seem like every single porn scene that includes fellatio ends the same way. This imposed viewing experience may suggest a singular path to pleasure, but it’s highly misleading. Sexual pleasure is endless and depends greatly on our imagination.

Oral Pleasure

I believe that the exploration of pleasure is what is important and where the focus should be. In this particular case, it’s the exploration of oral pleasure, and the rest is a byproduct. Here’s why.

Our lips are the most exposed erogenous zone, hosting many nerve endings and blood vessels. A delicate stroke over our lips is enough to stimulate a big part of our brain—apparently, even larger than the sexual stimulation of the genitals does. But it’s not only the lips that are highly sensitive; it’s also the tongue and mouth. Intimate interaction with our lips and mouth signals the brain to produce oxytocin, a hormone that triggers pleasure and sexual arousal. By performing fellatio you not only please your partner, but you also stimulate your lips and mouth, causing your brain to light up with arousal coursing through your body, preparing you for more pleasure. It may end with semen being swallowed, but it doesn’t have to.

Let’s Talk

Engaging in good, old-fashioned conversation can foster growth in the relationship and open doors to new levels of intimacy. It may be awkward at the start, but discussing pleasure, consent, boundaries and desires is crucial if you care about both yourself and your partner in the intimate encounter. The best way to do it is by asking open-ended questions. Begin with general questions about pleasure, such as “How do you like to be touched?” or “Can you show me how you like to be kissed?” and gradually narrow down.Here are some specific questions about oral sex that you can ask:

Not everyone will be comfortable with oral sex. Some may have a bad experience with it or no experience at all. Perhaps there won’t be a good moment to ask these specific questions, or you may need to build trust and intimacy before you both feel ready to talk about it. But the worst thing that you can do is to assume that your partner will want to “go down on you” and swallow. Remember, it’s okay to ask, during sex, “Where do you want me to cum?” This demonstrates care and highlights that your partner’s opinion matters to you, without breaking the mood.

In ethically produced porn, there always will be an honest discussion about all intimate acts, including where and how the men should end. But the thing is that most porn doesn’t show these conversations. Often talking about consent is seen as unsexy. And that’s a problem. However, discussing our preferences and boundaries can be part of the foreplay and can lead to more pleasurable experiences.

STI and oral sex

There are a million reasons why a person enjoys having semen in their mouth and another million for why someone prefers not to swallow. The taste may not be to their liking, or they might be afraid of contracting STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). I’ve come across countless articles discussing the taste of semen and how to “influence” it, so I won’t delve into that here. What I find more important, in my opinion, is the conversation about STIs.

Oral sex might seem very low-key compared to penetrative sex. If your partner ejaculates into your mouth, you won’t get pregnant. But let’s not forget that you could still catch an STI. Vigorous teeth brushing could potentially cause gum scratches, creating wounds through which bacteria or viruses can enter your bloodstream. If your partner is positive for an STI and ejaculates in your mouth, you might not only get his semen but also some of his STIs.

When discussing boundaries, consent and pleasure, it’s essential to include a few questions about STI tests. Yes, this can be a mood breaker, no matter how you phrase the question, but it’s important to ask when your prospective partner was last tested, how often they get tested and what their results were. If you are too shy to ask, condoms are an option.

In ethically produced porn, STI conversations happen all the time, backed up with actual test results. However, this is a part of porn that we don’t see, so it might not occur to us to ask about it before engaging in sex, either penetrative or oral. Perhaps some porn now shows condoms being worn, so there’s a chance that one day, a creative mind will find a way to depict consent conversations and STI checks as part of intimate scenes in pornographic films.

Porn is a source of inspiration for many people. Based on what they see, some people perceive sex as spontaneous and uncomplicated, and desire as ever-present; consent is assumed, and conversation is unnecessary. But that’s quite the wrong impression. It’s okay to take inspiration from porn but be selective with what you watch. Put it through a filter. Make a reality check. And before cumming in your partner’s mouth, ask their permission first! Have a conversation, and don’t be afraid to explore other areas of pleasure.

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