How to Do It

Full-Throated

When did men decide oral sex always includes deep-throating?

Woman covering mouth partially with hand, on a backdrop of neon eggplant symbols.
Animation by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions to howtodoit@slate.com. Don’t worry, we won’t use names.

Every Thursday night, Stoya and Rich will answer one bonus question in chat form. This week, a deep issue.

Dear How to Do It,

Can we talk about how guys now expect deep-throating as the norm? When did this happen? I am single for the first time in a while and having a fair number of partners, and I have found the majority of them expect oral sex to go there without really discussing it first. I don’t hate it, but to me, it’s a pretty aggressive form of sex that should be discussed first! Instead it seems totally normalized to these dudes, like it’s just a natural part of a blow job. I finally brought it up with the most recent guy, and he seemed genuinely surprised. What’s going on here?

—Full Throated

Rich: Ah, blow jobs. One of my favorite subjects.

Stoya: I’m just … I’m one of the first digital natives. I grew up with (low production value, but still) porn in all media available at my fingertips. And I’m terribly worried that I’m about to prove years of anti-porn feminists right here …

Rich: Well that would be a twist.

Stoya: Is deep-throating not the BJ norm? Like, that’d be like eating someone’s vulva and neglecting to insert a finger for g-spot stimulation.

Rich: Yes, I believe it is the norm. I think that the 1972 film Deep Throat did a lot to normalize it.
It was such a sensation with that angle that you have to figure that, up until then, not many people could do it—or were doing it. I believe the film made it standard. Imagine a movie coming out today whose sole angle was … one woman’s magical ability to deep throat. It is LITERALLY the stuff of amateurs these days.

Stoya: I’m wondering if the guys the writer is encountering are being aggressive about it?

Rich: There are definitely some aggressive thrusters out there, and I do get a sense that some guys like going deep out of principle—that, in fact, punishing a throat is what’s getting them off.

Stoya: Ah, that’s different from a friendly deep-throat.

Rich: Yeah, I think an important divide to note is between who’s doing the desiring, the sucker or the sucked. I take blow jobs seriously, and I do think it’s something like a duty to know how to do this, repress gag reflex, etc. But am I perfect at it? No! Do I want to be made to vomit or suffocate so one guy can orgasm? Hell no!!!

Stoya: What do you do when the receiver of a blow job starts to thrust deeper or faster than you’re prepared to handle?

Rich: I really try to keep up, but I’m also not good at keeping cool when I’m suffering, so I’ll eventually just tap out if it’s clear that the only way he’s going to get off is by keeping me on the edge of death. I prefer to take care of guys who like more about oral sex than just deep-throating.

Stoya: I use the Hand of Pause. It doesn’t actually matter which hand: I splay my fingers and push with my palm into the inside of his hip bone.

Rich: Ah, literally stopping him in his tracks.

Stoya: Literally. It almost always lessens thrusting. Of course, discussion works too.

Rich: Yeah, and it’s sometimes necessary, but I like the subtler approach that you describe. To me, in that kind of a situation, the whole fun of it is to give him what he wants, and I hate to interrupt that with my own limitations.

Stoya: You’re there to service the cock?

Rich: One hundred percent. That’s the fun of it! It’s also, like, such a relief to be told what to do?

Stoya: Hahahaha. YES.

Rich: Life is such chaos. Receiving instructions on how to service the dick in front of you and then accomplishing that task is a way of achieving momentary order.

Stoya: So, for our writer, maybe they want to talk about their blow job style around the same time they have the safer sex discussion. (Yes, I’m assuming they have a safer sex discussion before they engage in sex, as I recommend.)

Rich: I think that makes sense. If men are carrying around this sense of entitlement, thinking that their dicks need to be all the way down every throat they encounter, the most straightforward way to correct that is to discuss it. Because the writer does have a point: It can be a little rough. And no one is obligated to put up with roughness that they’re not into.

Stoya: To start, “I like to focus on the sensitive parts like the head” might sound more appealing than “I don’t want your dick jammed down my esophagus.”

Rich: I like the idea of asserting that you have a style. Because the thing is, as much as this scenario can be about getting pleasure from giving pleasure, everyone’s got their own personal relationship to what that feels like, and it might not always coincide. So just like you might make tempo suggestions during intercourse, it’s totally OK to have someone meet you halfway when you’re giving him a blow job. In the best-case scenario, it’s equally fun for both of you.

Stoya: The only other thing I have to add is the Fist of Stroking (everything is an action-figure upsell today): You can totally wrap your hand around the shaft of the cock to give that satisfying “buried” feeling without choking or tearing up.

Rich: And in fact, I find that many guys prefer some hand action as well. Do you have any thoughts on the more philosophical points within the question about whether the expectation of deep-throating is a sign of normalized aggression?

Stoya: Oh jeez. Fisting and deep-throating are both alarming-sounding terms used to describe sexual practices that can be surprisingly gentle or shockingly violent. Actual consumption of porn and discourse around porn both have a normalizing effect, I think. But, like, wouldn’t it be great if we normalized some other stuff that happens in porn? Like active consent? Or talking about the things we’re going to do before we shoot them? And I’m not so sure that porn is where these things come from so much as where these things reach the masses.

Rich: Yeah, I think the most reasonable assumption is that porn exposes people to ideas and practices they never even would have thought to think about.

Stoya: This goes off into a giant tangent, but I wonder how big the range of “odd” sex was before we started categorizing it.

Rich: Maybe it was even weirder when people were making it up as they went along without any —or with far fewer—external templates/inspiration. I will close by saying that even if guys carry a certain expectation, they should really be respectful when they see it goes beyond their partner’s actual abilities. If you want someone to be good at giving blow jobs, you should be good at receiving them too.

Stoya: Assume nothing, ask about everything, and remember not everyone likes choking during oral sex.