Didn’t You Used To Be Scared Of BJs? Black Women And Accepting Oral
Okay now that they are gone, where was I? Oh yeah, blow jobs. I know, it is not proper for women, or at least a proper woman, to talk about that “narsty stuff” at least publicly. I don’t care how old she is or how many grown folks’ bills she has in her name, private part stroking with the mouth is something polite women barely do, let alone discuss. Yet this morning, while out walking the dog and listening to the local urban radio station, I heard lyrics with phrases like “Getting Her Jaws Worked” and “giving brain” and a dozen other urban euphemisms to describe how this male singer/rapper enjoyed or wanted to be pleased orally– and I only walked the dog for 20 minutes. So what is with the double standard?
This is in relation to my experience as a black woman living and working most of her life exclusively in the black community. A community where many Black women have routinely had their sexuality defined for them since the days of the auction blocks, where black enslaved women were stripped unclothed publicly so that their bodies could be displayed and inspected like mere objects. And after the block, there was a strong chance that sexual relations could be forced upon her and there would be no recourse because she had no rights to her body.
In today’s culture, it is not the auction block, that regulates proper sexual etiquette; however its presence is definitely still felt among some religious leaders, whose gospel of decency and strict rules of proper conduct, equated any woman pursuing sexual relations outside of procreation as sexually deviants. It is also felt in today’s pop culture, particularly within Hip Hop and R&B where on one hand, the black woman’s body (or at least the most celebrated physical attributes of the black girl’s body) is often used to sell a lifestyle and solidify one’s own masculinity; however is also generally regarded as the temple of the “hoes,” “chickenhead” and “hoodrats.” So yeah, it’s not always easy trying to lay claim to the parts of yourself, particularly those parts of your sexuality that is normally considered socially acceptable, when your body as well as sexual decisions has always been treated as public domain.
Oh don’t get it twisted. Black women do get down. Since my years as a curious pre-teen, it was not uncommon to find myself in the midst of spirited girlfriend-circles discussing topics of a more sexually explicit nature. However, even in those spaces where we felt comfortable to discuss our likes and dislikes there was still a desire to abide by what was considered respectable sexual relations. The was not considered one of them. While, being on the receiving end of some mouth-to-genital action was hotly debated, the idea of putting your lips on a package was definitely considered unclean and uncouth and definitely beneath the standards of any self-respecting girl. And even if someone was narsty enough to broach the topic among us girls, it was pretty much guaranteed that their query would be met with mass repulsion followed by pledges to reserve this demeaning act for the sanctity of special occasion in their future fictitious marriages.
And that was the consensus for most of my young adult life, even into college when I had managed to work my lips around one, or two, okay three penises (that I will admit to). But if asked, I would have denied it like my name was Lance Armstrong. Although I personally didn’t think there was anything wrong with the act (and truthfully rather enjoyed doing it), I was also very conscious of how many of the other girls in my dorm, many of whom came and held tightly to their religious heavy backgrounds, felt about the act. I even denied it after being out in front of those same young women in ill-advised game of truth or dare. He choose truth and then buckled under the pressure. However while the cornball guy, who cowardly announced our intimate moment, got the hi-fives, I got to sit through the mocking, the disapproving gazes and the shame.
In a piece called Who’s Afraid of Black Sexuality, Stacey Patton reports on the fields of black studies that had, for many years, taken a conservative approach to scholarship around black sexuality, even as our sexuality in some form has routinely managed to permeate popular culture and public commentary most times in the most racially subjugating ways. Such as the furor over Janet Jackson’s exposed areola to the attention placed on the round backsides of high profiled black women like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Serena Williams and even Michelle Obama. Recognizing how aspects of black sexuality “are central matters in how we’ve been perceived and how we perceive ourselves,” Patton writes that the younger, and queerer, generation of black academe has evolved to embrace black sexuality in their scholarship in more fluid ways.
Writes Patton, “While discussions of sexuality go far back in the world of black scholarship—to such work as W.E.B. Du Bois’ report on black sexual mores and marital practices in Philadelphia, Ana Julia Cooper and Ida B. Wells’ examinations of the racist construction of black male and female sexuality, and the social scientist E. Franklin Frazier’s dissection of the social patterns of the black bourgeoisie—today’s work is more explicit, rawer. It gets into the bedroom with heterosexual black men having sex with other men “on the down low;” onto the streets and adult video sets with cross-dressers, transsexuals, and black sex workers; behind prison bars with gay and lesbian inmates; into the dungeons and play dens of blacks who seek pleasure through and pain.”
If we are to go by popular culture, we are to believe that this new generation of young people, particularly young women, now feel less restricted to discuss their love of cunniligus and knob slobbing . Rappers write odes to the BJ and it is not uncommon to see your favorite television or movie star act one out on the screen. We even have female entertainers like rappers and comedians brag about how well versed they are in the act. Culturally whatever stigma, which was attached to the act has all but dissipated. In fact, two-thirds of most youth, ages 15 to 24, have had oral sex and I’ll guess that if you ask around, most people consider oral sex almost a standard part of getting it in nowadays. Even some of my girlfriends, a few of which were the most repulsed by the idea of giving a blow jobs in high school, have become the act’s most vocal (pun intended) cheerleaders.
Yes the conversations within these girlfriend circles have changed. Yet this new found appreciation for oral stimulation might not have necessarily evolved organically for some people, particularly women. Therefore, I can certainly see a woman, who finds no sexual enjoyment in mic-checking a dude, feeling forced into the act in order to uphold what has now become a new sexual norm, which now tells her that “Getting Her Jaws Worked” is mandatory part of sex, instead about what is pleasing to her. This is largely because what remains acceptable sexually still remains at the validity of those, who shape it. Women, most particularly black women, still struggle largely with shaping our own sexual images. Some scholarship, as well as open and honest dialogue with ourselves and each other, will go a long way in opening the doors for black women to feel like a blowjob is optional but it is also an acceptable option.