Hating oral sex as the new misogyny? Toward a more feminist sex life

Man makes There is a much needed conversation to be had about straight men, masculinity, and sex. As a society we privilege the sexual desires of straight men and then limit the expression of those desires. We should be talking about the ways in which misogyny and homophobia have shaped our ideas about what constitutes appropriate sexual behavior. There should be more focus on enthusiastic consent. We ought to encourage more communication, body acceptance, and pleasure.

“I’m A Feminist, But I Don’t Eat Pussy” is not the way to have that conversation. It won’t be getting any link-love here, but Thought Catalog published this piece by Wayne Nutnot, a self-proclaimed straight white male feminist, who thinks vaginas are icky. In his own words: “Vaginas…are finicky and, objectively, well– gross. There’s just no other way to put it. They are covered in hair. They ooze and slime– and that’s when you’re doing a good job!” He hates performing oral sex because for him “Eating pussy often feels like a difficult chore. Like vacuuming or doing the dishes using your tongue if the dishes were covered in smoked salmon that’s been sitting in the sun for a day.  No thank you!”

I’m sorry Mr. Nutnot doesn’t enjoy going down. Really. He’s missing out. But it’s not the fact that he doesn’t enjoy oral sex that’s troublesome, but rather that in trying to articulate his reluctance he regurgitates tired misogyny and uses “but I’m a feminist!” in an attempt to protect himself from criticism.

There is plenty of cultural hate for vaginas and vagina bearing bodies (be they cis or trans), so no matter what he may felt when sitting down to write this, he wasn’t treading any new ground. My guess is he thought this was some much needed “real talk” and that it would be accepted because he also ran through his feminist credentials before again telling women their bodies are disgusting. There’s no bravery in affirming the status quo. And if straight men are going to identify as feminists only to dress up misogyny in a new set of clothes, then we serve no purpose.

Reading this also called to mind the much discussed Slate piece from Andy Hinds and his “woe-is-me-feminism-has-ruined-my-sexual-fantasies” screed. I’m not sure if it’s a strictly straight white dude problem, but both of these writers display an inability to reconcile both political and sexual equality among the genders. They seem to think one is ruined by the other and they are lamenting the loss. That’s bullshit. People will continue to have fantasies and there will be sexual acts in which we won’t want to participate. But if the only language we have to articulate these desires or non-desires continues to degrade women we haven’t done enough work.

I say this from personal experience: a feminist sex life can be wildly fulfilling. But it only gets to be that fulfilling if you’re constantly engaged in communicating your desires and challenging the misogyny that has informed our sexual identities since birth. Straight men (especially those claiming to be feminist) can’t continue clinging to the old dialogue that simultaneously privileges our experience and leaves many of us unsatisfied. It’s boring and predictable.

Kinda like the sex some of these guys must be having.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon. As a freelance writer, social commentator, and mental health advocate his work has been seen online in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Al Jazeera English, Gawker, The Guardian, Ebony.com, Huffington Post, The Root, and The Grio.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/pjwhite/ Penny White

    What self-respecting woman is going to want to have sex with this guy? And I sure as hell hope he doesn’t expect women to give him oral sex if he won’t reciprocate. The real pleasure of oral sex is how it effects your partner. But this guy clearly doesn’t care about that (or notice). Why didn’t he just entitle his article: “I Am Horrible in Bed”?

  • http://feministing.com/members/artdyke/ Sten

    Just as I can’t help but question the sexuality of those who are the most stridently ant-gay, I can’t help but question the sexuality of someone who claims to be into women but not cunnilingus. Some individual women may not taste great because of health issues or fundamental pheromone incompatibility or something, but to write off all vaginas as icky and still claim to be a heterosexual male? Come on, guy…

    I mean I can step back and talk about how sex (all sex, not just vaginas) is objectively gross, oh haha (why do we put these juices in our mouths? what’s the deal with these sexy fat lumps?), but then I immediately put them in my mouth. It’s funny because we like it anyway! If you don’t, well… maybe you should just keep your mouth shut about it.

  • http://feministing.com/members/aldeka/ Karen Rustad

    Saying people who dislike cunnilingus are misogynists is a lot like saying that a guy can’t really be gay if he doesn’t like anal. Really?

    • http://feministing.com/members/oreobytes/ Shauna

      Not sure if you missed part of the article or even read it: “That’s bullshit. People will continue to have fantasies and /there will be sexual acts in which we won’t want to participate/. But if the only language we have to articulate these desires or non-desires continues to degrade women we haven’t done enough work.”

      The last part is the KEY part of that — if we deliver this distaste for one thing (WHICH IS PERFECTLY FINE TO HAVE A DISLIKE TOWARDS IT) in a terrible type of language, then THAT is what turns into misogyny, the degradation towards women as if it’s their fault someone doesn’t like eating pussy, instead of it just being a preference. There’s a difference in the language used currently. Not a hard point to get.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rorschach/ Rorschach

    You realize this was a joke article right? Like The Onion? That’s what the writer said on his twitter and I thought it was pretty obvious when reading it.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cm3754a/ Caitrin

    Hmm…I find this very interesting. It definitely is a problem that women are taught that their bodies are disgusting. And this guy’s statement that it is “discriminatory” for women to expect men to perform oral sex on them if they perform oral sex on him, given that allegedly oral sex on men is WAY easier and less icky (that’s essentially what he said) – um, wow, so expecting your partner to reciprocate and pleasure you in the way you prefer after you did what he/she wanted, is unfair? how about, refusing to at least try to give your partner the pleasure they want and then saying she has no right to be upset about it, now that sounds kind of not okay. At the same time, as a gay woman, I relate to what this man wrote about not liking to perform oral sex, because well, I actually DO think that vaginas are kinda gross. :( please don’t hate on me! I, too, have an aversion to doing this, but I’ll do it if asked due to my desire to please the person I love. Does that mean I internalized the message society gives us that our parts are dirty and gross? I almost kind of wish that would be true, because frankly I have a lot of shame around finding oral sex gross (especially since I adore my partner doing this to me)…because partners I’ve had don’t feel that way, so it makes me feel abnormal, like a bad lesbian, a bad feminist, etc. Does anyone else (queer women?) feel this way?? I genuinely want to know. I would love to love it…but I don’t. occasionally I’ll kind of like aspects of it, like if she’s super into it I obviously love that…but I kind of only put up with the physical sensation of doing it. Also, I love touching vaginas with my hands – no problems there at all (I’d have a serious problem if this were the case)

  • http://feministing.com/members/rosi01/ Rosanna

    You make a really good point about “real talk” masquerading as progressive commentary about vaginas and vagina-having bodies. It’s all too common that more mainstream websites like Slate and Thought Catalog (and others like The Atlantic) resort to this sort of lazy and predictable discourse, ostensibly to up their readership. It seems like Mr Nutnot missed the feminism memo about the place of straight, cis, white dude commentary about women’s bodies in feminism?

  • http://feministing.com/members/thetarotnook/ Kelsey Lynore

    I actually consider oral sex to be the acid test of sexuality, so if someone doesn’t like going down on one sex, I think they should try another! As such, the sentiment of Mr. Nutnot isn’t so much misogynist as, well… gay!

  • http://feministing.com/members/freedom/ John

    Can you explain or give examples of how society privileges the sexual desires of straight men?

    • http://feministing.com/members/sweetjess/ Jess

      I’m going to cross my fingers and hope you’re sincerely interested and not trolling, and say thanks for the question! My partner often comments that he feels it’s a little intimidating for a dude to go on a feminist site and ask questions, so kudos :)

      I’m sure there are excellent articles about this, which other people probably know better than I do. But from my perspective, the most obvious way that society privileges the sexual desires of straight men is the prevalence of rape culture.* Some examples might be:
      – Comments <a href="http://feministing.com/2013/06/18/conservative-says-women-in-military-make-up-rape-stories-for-money/&quot; title="like these" about how we shouldn’t expect men to curb their sexual impulses. It’s just who they are!
      – The unspoken belief by society in general that men should be allowed – or encouraged! women should like it! – to catcall, regardless of how women feel about it. Or more generally, that men have the ‘right’ to comment on women’s bodies however they wish.
      – The open, accepting, supportive and matter-of-course attitude that straight male sexuality receives by society (for example, in the news or by comics) as compared to the shameful, mocking, derisive, and reticent attitude that female sexuality receives. Like the idea that a rape victim’s credibility is destroyed if it’s shown that she enjoyed sex. Or the fact that the media had a field day about Jodi Arias liking kinky sex – rather than being shocked and appalled at the whole murder detail!

      In all of these examples, straight male sexual desire is of course privileged over women’s dignity – but also over the law, common courtesy, and even science.** GAAHHH.

      I’m certainly no expert on trans* or gay issues, so you’d have to ask someone else for good examples of how straight male sexuality is privileged over gay male sexuality. But from where I’m standing, it seems pretty clear that it is, and that white male sexuality is also privileged over the sexuality of men of color.

      Now I’m all kinds of rage-y. Time to leave the internet for a while :P


      *One definition: “rape culture is defined as the normalization, victim-blaming, and tolerance that often pardons rape and sexual assault.” (from feministwire)
      **I have never, ever seen a legitimate research article published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal that supports the idea that men are slaves to their sex drives.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhian/ rhian

    I think this is really poorly written satire… I think. My evidence being:

    1. Wayne Nutnot’s name links to a twitter account belonging to Stavros Halkias, who claims to be a comedian.

    2. The few blatant misogynist lines such as “we should ensure that young girls grow up in a world where they earn equal pay for equal work in whatever careers that interest them – even if its something they will likely fail at such as a doctor or a CEO.”

    3. The odd references to receiving oral sex in a gas station.

    I don’t understand what the point of it is, or find it particularly funny–in fact I still think it’s pretty offensive. I suspect the part of this he is lying about is identifying as a feminist.

  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    Is a gay man’s reluctance to have sex with women misogyny? What about a straight woman’s reluctance to have sex with a woman, is that misogyny too? What if they find the idea of oral sex with a woman “repulsive” is that then misogyny? One of the things I’m trying to ascertain is was it his choice of words that triggers misogyny. What if someone said that changing diapers is disgusting, but changes his baby’s diapers? Is that baby hatred or is it the combination of his words and his refusal to do it?

    I understand the idea of body acceptance, but I find it a little rapey to suggest that a person is required to find something acceptable and not use it as a basis to determine whether they want to have sex with a person. People don’t need to justify refusing sex.

    It’s not like he’s suggesting that women modify their genitals en masse for cleanliness or esthetic reasons as society has deemed should happen with infant boys. Why should parents have to trouble with keeping their sons clean or teaching them to keep clean when they can simply cut off the section where urine gets trapped? The boys aren’t even given a choice. If you want to be outraged about something, be outraged about the involuntary circumcision of infant boys.

  • http://feministing.com/members/wtfwhatever/ wtf

    Well, fwiw, I love oral sex with women, but let’s go back a few years to feministing and the funk-filled bratwurst debate, that is, Amanda Marcotte and Twisty Faster, hating on giving oral sex to men.


  • http://feministing.com/members/wtfwhatever/ wtf

    Here’s a good roundup of feminists hating on fellatio:


    I always did love Amanda’s take on it. A woman providing oral sex to her husband in the kitchen was a bad thing, but ask yourself what would Amanda say to a gay couple, or lesbian couple exchanging that same act of oral sex in their kitchen?

    Because Amanda is not sex positive, but sex political.

    So are you.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dxman/ John Smith

    OK, I get it’s satire.. but what is it satire OF? What is the POINT? That some feminist-identified men can still have horrible misogynist views? Is it laughing at feminists or at misogynists and how is it funny to do so by satirically laughing at women?

    To me it reads like “vaginas are icky, ha ha ha, suck my penis, ha ha ha” and anyone who actually finds that kind of thing funny probably won’t get or appreciate the satire.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sourpop/ sourpop

    He’s an idiotic misogynist, not a feminist.
    He can claim it’s satire but I think he truly believes these things. His article serves absolutely no purpose. It’s not funny, it’s not informative, it’s just offensive.