Throughout history, nearly every sexual act you can think of has moved from one side of the moral scale of acceptability to the other; at times there was near complete freedom in the matter when at other points in history, anything other than strictly procreative sex was seen as deviant.
Thus some of our intimate practices have known good times or lean, becoming somehow the representatives of a historical period. We’ve taken a peek at the history books they keep way in the back of the library to give you these 10 surprisingly facts about fellatio!
The History of Oral Sex
The first blow job (or at least, written mention of it) appears in Egyptian burial chambers where one can read on the walls extracts narrating the myth of Osiris. After being murdered and cut into pieces, the goddess Isis tried to put the pieces together but could not find his manhood. Resourcefully, she fashioned one out of clay and used her mouth to ‘breathe life into him’ through it.
The ruins of Pompei, which was buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, were first discovered in 1599…and promptly covered back up again until they were rediscovered in the 1700s. The first frescos that were found―indeed, the countless drawings and inscriptions found in every corner of this ancient city―could be described as ‘hedonistic’ if not downright shockingly pornographic. From graffiti to bathhouse murals, the city is decorated with pictures of sexual acts, which also served a practical purpose. The doors of brothels featured the names, rates and specialties of those working within, which is how even thousands of years later, we can learn that a certain “Myrtis” was particularly agile in his mouth…
3.Do as the Romans
While sex between men was common in ancient roman culture, it carried its own acceptable dynamics, which included a double-standard when it came to oral sex. It was seen as humiliating for the person who was performing it, which is why calling someone a ‘sucker’ was a common insult even then.
Fellatio did not have a much better reputation with Rome’s neighbors, as it was seen as a ‘waste’ of seed. Rather, it was one’s duty to sow one’s wild oats in places where offspring were more likely to occur.
5.Truly Dark Ages
The implacable severity of the medieval Church did not make for a period history that one would describe as ‘fun.’ Blow jobs would have been seen as direct defiance to the biblical instruction to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ This was taken rather seriously; in Ireland, a criminal charge of engaging in fellatio meant three to fifteen years of penance ―the same as committing murder!
6.Quite a Mouthful
The term ‘fellatio’ wasn’t used until 1894 when sexual researcher Havelock Ellis used it in one his clinical works on sexuality, and he additionally used the terms to refer to the performing part as “fellator; if female, a fellatrice or fellatrix.” As to where the term ‘blow job’ came from, we’re not quite sure, but it appeared in pulp fiction by the 40s and we haven’t looked back since!
7.Going South in the North
While it’s a misconception that the Inuit began ‘Eskimo kissing’ to stop their mouth freezing together, that does not mean that oral sex was high on their list of moves in the bedroom. Blow jobs were seen as a taboo, as it was believed to sap the receiver of strength.
8.A French Affair
While nearly everything from kissing to condoms to syphilis has been euphemistically described as ‘French’ at one point or another, they do have a claim to one of the most famous sexual scandals of the 19th century when President Felix Faure died in 1899 while receiving a blow job form his mistress. At the time, many joked that “He wanted to live Caesar, not die like Pompey,” which is a pun on the French verb ‘pomper’ (to suck).’
9.As American as Apple Pie?
The puritan beginnings of the United States still show their effect on society, and are perhaps why oral sex didn’t make its way from brothels into the average bedroom until the 20th century. It entered common usage sometimes in the 40s, largely referring to an illicit and purely homosexual act and it was illegal in all states until 1950. Then, in 1969, the novel The Godfather was published. It left a huge mark on American culture as the gangster life became the manly idea, and thus the blow job― described within―became something that was acceptable in a heteronormative setting.
10.A Deeper Understanding
Arguably one of the most famous pornographic films of all time, Deep Throat stood out in 1972 for its high production value and plot development, but became notable as it stood trial for obscenity.
Deep Throat is also famously the name used by the informant of the Watergate scandal which occurred shortly after the film’s release, and is said to have been chosen because of the ‘deep’ involvement of the informant, and it has later been revealed that Deep Throat (aka Mark Felt) was behind FBI efforts to stop the distribution of the film Deep Throat. This has most certainly lead to some confusing Google searches by history students!
You might say it has taken us a fair amount of time to be comfortable with talking about oral sex, but as these 10 historical anecdotes show, the blow job is an act that has―and will continue to―make history.