Why We Need Cake and Cunnilingus Day More Than Ever
Back in 2006 I first proposed the idea of Cake and Cunnilingus Day as a frivolous response to Steak and a Blowjob Day, a made-up holiday that positions itself as the "male version of Valentine's Day", held one month after February 14. I wanted to counter the idea that women were only interested in romance and love and so I proposed a separate celebration of female pleasure and sensual hedonism, held on April 14.
Ten years later, it seems that Cake and Cunnilingus Day is less frivolous and more of an awareness-raising necessity. Cunnilingus has long been given short shrift in our culture, suppressed by taboo and secrecy. It's one of the rarest acts in pornography and mainstream films hesitate to show it. In 2010 Blue Valentine was notoriously given an NC-17 rating due to its cunnilingus scene, while other contemporary films with fellatio received lesser ratings. A 2015 study of university students found that women received oral sex less often than men and a 2011 study found that teen women placed emphasis on satisfying men's desires rather than their own. There's also been health scares, with one study suggesting the act causes throat cancer.
And now a study published in the Journal of Sex Research show that young people feel less willing to engage in cunnilingus than fellatio. Oral Sex, Young People, and Gendered Narratives of Reciprocity asked 71 British young people aged between 16 and 18 about giving and receiving oral sex. While participants agreed that oral sex should have an element of give-and-take, both men and women said that giving cunnilingus was more of a "bigger deal" than giving fellatio and that involved more of a cost to the man.
The men said that vulvas were unappealing and used terms like "messy" and "disgusting". They also mentioned a reputational cost, saying they would be insulted by their male peers if they revealed they had given cunnilingus.
While women in established relationships said they enjoyed oral sex, many others revealed feeling uncomfortable about receiving it, saying they felt anxious about their taste and smell and distracted by worry that it was unpleasant for their partner. They worried that they were taking too long to reach orgasm. They also felt that men who actually enjoyed giving oral sex were "weird" or "different".
Many women reported giving oral sex to their partner even when they didn't want to; the men were less magnanimous when it came to reluctantly going down and often flat-out refused to do it.
The study revels that gendered attitudes to sex and women's bodies remain a problem in 2016 and that women are still a long way from pleasure equality. Society still gives priority to a man's pleasure and male ejaculation is seen as necessary and important. A brief perusal of most mainstream porn films reflects this: fellatio is common and most scenes end with a male cumshot; female orgasm is not considered to be necessary.
There's also the continuing meme that women's bodies are both "disgusting" and "complicated", cultural beliefs that both sexes are still accepting and perpetuating. Vulvas are dismissed as being dirty and female orgasm is seen to be a difficult, time consuming process that takes more work. Women are internalising these messages, letting fear and shame interfere with their ability to freely express and enjoy themselves sexually. This despite that fact that it has been proven that cunnilingus is a sure-fire way for women to reach orgasm.
As usual, sex education is vital. Good cunnilingus is not a complicated thing but it does require communication and a basic knowledge of female anatomy and sexuality. More importantly, both partners to be willing and relaxed. This is where we need to see a cultural change. Cunnilingus and female pleasure needs to be seen as necessary and important. We have to challenge the idea that women are complicated beings that men can't understand. We have to say no to the "fish" jokes and the toxic masculinity that derides a man who happily gives pleasure to a woman. We need to be out and proud about our enjoyment and need for cunnilingus.
That's why Cake and Cunnilingus Day is important. It gives women a light hearted opportunity to declare their desire for pleasure and it gives men a chance to show their support and interest in cunnilingus. The only way we can overcome the taboo surrounding oral sex on women is to start honest conversations about the act and to normalise and celebrate it.
Of course, as I said back in 2006, every day should be Cake and Cunnilingus Day. The more we can prioritise our pleasure, the happier we'll be.
- Published 14th April 2016