A genealogy of the genital kiss: Oral sex in the twentieth century

Hunt, Alan; Curtis, Bruce
June 2006
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2006, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p69
Academic Journal
In recent years oral sex has been the subject of increasing media coverage and controversy, particularly as it applies to the sexual behaviour of youth. The purpose of this article is to present a modem genealogy of oral sex. We explore the evolving contexts and discourses concerning oral sex that have occurred from the early 20th century onward. We begin with an historical analysis of the treatment of oral sex In marriage and sex advice manuals. During the course of the 20th century, the place and function of oral sex underwent a number of transformations. It is shown that oral sex became normalized, first cunnilingus and then fellatio, initially as a way of sufficiently arousing a couple prior to intercourse and then as a sexual pleasure in its own right. However, as the 200 century drew to a close, oral sex was once again problematized as the discourse of sexual conservatism regained its prominence. With respect to contemporary discourse, oral sex leads a double life. On the one hand, oral sex is firmly established within adult heterosexual relations as an important signifier of mutuality and pleasure. On the other hand, the practice of oral sex among youth is the source of considerable anxiety.


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