When Is a Blow Job a Blow Job? And Period Fear

Roe McDermott

Roe McDermott is a journalist, arts critic, Fulbright awardee and sex columnist from Dublin. She lives in San Francisco, where she's completing an MA in Sexuality Studies.


Dear Roe,

My boyfriend and I were listening to a podcast where a man was complaining about only getting a couple of blow jobs a year from his wife, and I made a face because that sounded like a very low number. But then my boyfriend turns around and says, “Well you hardly ever give me blow jobs.” I was furious. I literally go down on him every time we have sex – but according to him, it’s only a blow job if it’s just a blow job – as in, if I start blowing him and don’t stop until he comes. The way we have sex now, I usually blow him for a while, then we have sex and he finishes that way. At this point, I feel like never blowing him again, but please settle this debate: does a blow job still count if the man doesn’t finish from it?

Dear Letter Writer,

I cannot decide if your boyfriend is a fool or a genius.

If a sexual act only counts if someone ends up orgasming from it, I can genuinely claim that I haven’t had sex with a lot of men I previously had on my list. I’ve also apparently never been fingered, which means I have to add that to the bucket list.

I kid. Your boyfriend is an idiot, of course.

A blow job is oral sex, and oral sex is oral sex no matter what the result. And actually his theory is a bit terrifying – are people who are assaulted or coerced into sexual activity lying about being forced to perform or received sexual acts if they don’t orgasm or ejaculate?

And in your case, is your boyfriend willing to stand by his theory if you throw it back at him – does he bring you to orgasm through oral sex on a regular basis? (I hope he does, but I doubt it.) Are you allowed to sleep around as long as you never climax? Perform oral sex on other men as long as they don’t?

Your boyfriend’s theory is nonsense. And I think your boyfriend knows this, or will, at least once he gets his head out of his ass and thinks it through.

Giving him this benefit of the doubt, let’s do that unfortunate and arduous task necessary to the survival of all relationships: looking beyond what he said to what he possibly meant, which was that he would like to get more blow jobs where that’s the sole focus of the interaction.

And that’s fair enough – again, as long as he’s willing to reciprocate and go down on you until queendom come, on the regular. It can be a great thing to treat each other to individual attention where it’s all about the other person’s pleasure, so I’m all about you both indulging that.

But what your boyfriend needs to learn, very very quickly, is that telling a woman who frequently puts his penis in her mouth that she’s not being attentive is not the way to endear yourself to anyone, or make anyone want to do anything to his genitals other than kick them.

Get your boy to work on his communication skills. Treat him to an uninterrupted, solely-about-him blow job every now and then. But only after he’s gone down on you more times than he’s ever listened to a podcast.

***

Dear Roe,

I’m a 21-year-old straight woman. I’m about to start my second year in college and have had a FWB/NSA/booty-call situation with a guy on my course since a big after-exams party in May, and we’ve kept it up over the summer. All was going well, the sex was good and regular – until the last time about three weeks ago, when I got my period during sex. It wasn’t very heavy, but a few drops definitely got on his sheets. He was pretty cool about it at the time, but he hasn’t got in touch with me since. Usually we’d have sex every week, texting each other after a night out or whatever. Is the period sex the reason he’s not texting me, and if so, should I acknowledge it? I apologised at the time, but should I make a joke to smooth things over? Or do I need to apologise again, offer to buy him new sheets or something?

Dear Letter Writer,

Should you buy him sheets? Please, for the love of Jeebus, tell me you’re kidding. Unless you menstruate pure lava and your Droplets of Carrie immolated all of his bedding and the structure beneath, no, you’re not under any obligation to buy him textiles.

The boy (hopefully) knows how to shove his sheets into a washing machine, so he’s all set. And trust me, he’s a twenty-something guy having casual sex and most likely masturbating with a vengeance on a regular basis. His sheets have been through a Saving Private Ryan-level of emotional trauma and bodily excretions. His sheets are warriors. His sheets are troopers. His sheets are survivors.

Look, women are constantly taught to feel ashamed of their periods, and it’s misogynistic crap.

But we still buy into it, from adverts that are so terrified of blood that they demonstrate tampons and sanitary pads with blue wiper fluid, to women feeling the need to go full ninja-stealth mode when carrying tampons or bringing them to the bathroom, to women never daring to mention our periods in public, to women enduring hideous pain and severe medical problems like endometriosis because we’re taught not to complain, acknowledge or inflict the realities of our bodies on other people.

And here you are, having sex, showing a man your body and touching each other and letting him penetrate you – and you still feel like you have to apologise for your body. Don’t.

Do not apologise. Do not apologise for your own sake, so that you learn to exist in your body without apology; and do not apologise for other women, because we don’t want to set that precedent for each other and support those idiots who feel like they can shame us for simply being.

As for whether this lad isn’t texting you because you got your period, I have no idea. It’s the summer, maybe he’s away. He’s not your boyfriend, so maybe he’s hooking up with someone else. He’s a person, maybe he’s just busy living his life.

Or maybe yes, maybe he is a pathetic man-child who was so appalled by the sight of evidence of the female reproductive system responsible for his existence along with every other person on the planet that he no longer wants to have sex with you.

If the latter is the truth, then him not texting you is a definitive, no-questions-necessary sign that he is a ridiculous human being that does not deserve access to your body, thoughts or attention.

But the only way you’re going to get clarity on this is to text him, which brings to me to the other issue implicit in your question: why is he apparently holding all the cards in this dynamic? If this is truly an all-good FWB situation, shouldn’t you both be able to initiate a night together?

That you don’t feel comfortable texting him, or asking him to hook up when you want to, and that you’re so worried about offending him with the facts of your body implies you’re not feeling as confident or at least as equal as I’d like you to feel in a FWB scenario.

Do you need to get a bit more comfortable with your desire for sex – casual or otherwise? Does he do anything to make you feel like you can’t ask for sex when you’re in the mood? Do you maybe like him a little bit and that’s why you’re fretting over these details?

Only you can answer these questions, and only you can text him to figure out what’s been keeping him away. So get typing.

Nothing serious, no references to the previous period sex needed, and absolutely no apologies allowed – because you did nothing wrong. You existed as a woman, and we’ve been asked to apologise for that enough, thank you very much.

A simple “Hey stranger, how’ve you been?” text is all that’s needed.

And if indeed this lad does dare try to criticise or shame you for daring to menstruate while he had the pleasure of having sex with you, or (eyeroll) ask for sheet-compensation, here’s the final text you need to ever need to send him: “Grow up, fuckboy.”


Have a question for Roe? Submit it anonymously at dublininquirer.com/ask-roe

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Roe McDermott: Roe McDermott is a journalist, arts critic, Fulbright awardee and sex columnist from Dublin. She lives in San Francisco, where she's completing an MA in Sexuality Studies.

Reader responses

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Jim Leonard
at 3 August 2016 at 00:22

Please tell that blowjob person that actually blowing into a penis can cause instant death. Death from air embolism!

Licking, caressing with your tongue is nice, but for goodness sake do not blow. At best if you blow you will fill his bladder with air possibly causing damage.

Jim Leonard
at 3 August 2016 at 00:23

I meant to say that blowing into a vagina can have the same effect, death by air embolism.

Speranza
at 10 August 2016 at 11:30

The letter writer has projected her own insecurities onto someone else and made a pretty big assumption – she could be wrong as you point out. Was there really a need to put the boot in… ” maybe he is a pathetic man-child”, “he is a ridiculous human”, “Grow up, fuckboy.”

Innaminna
at 10 August 2016 at 13:29

Roe, I love you. Where were you when I was first navigating my sexuality 20 odd years ago!?

@Speranza did you read the “if”s and “maybe”s? You cannot really be unaware that there a lot of men out there #notallmen who DO have such pathetic attitudes towards periods, period sex, and just women and their sexuality in general? IF it is the case that the OP has one of these specimens on her hands then yes she may need to “put the boot in” as described.

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