When did oral sex become a common part of sex?

Why would that matter? Labia aren’t hairy.

The Kama Sutra is somewhat contradictory, but seems to frown on oral sex. It says:

  1. A man shouldn’t get bj’s from his wife, but only from loose women, like prostitutes and hairdressers.
  2. Do whatever you want, and follow the customs of your country.
  3. Men of quality shouldn’t do it. It’s not exactly wrong, but then, doctors say eating dog meat isn’t dangerous to your health; that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and get me some.

If only the OP had posted this sooner. I’d ask Mom and Grammy if they gave head, but, unfortunately, they’ve passed away.

When did oral sex become a common part of sex?

Oh. You meant for everybody. Nevermind.

Didn’t notice any depictions when I visited Khajuraho. Did I just miss them?

Perhaps some of us here today owe our existence to our parents’ ignorance of alternative routes to pleasure in the 1960s. Should we reconsider the board’s manifesto? Thank god the fighting of ignorance only started in 1973.

I’ll be in my bunk.

Oral sex is attested in ancient Egypt.

Unless you’re using geological time, this is absurdly false. Pubic hair grooming goes back at least 5000 years, and may go back as much as 50,000 to when the first flint razors were discovered. Egyptians considered pubic hair dirty and shaved it, Romans considered it beastly and plucked it, Muslims considered it unclean and recommended shaving at least once per month. http://nomorebodyhair.com/detailed-history-hair-removal/

And the idea that grooming pubic hair is required for cunnilingus can be easily disproved by viewing 70s and 80s porn, where it was commonly shown despite a lack of razor usage. The view that oral sex is some recent thing when jokes about oral sex can be found in the oldest preserved graffiti we have is just silly.

“Hey, Baby! How about giving me a nice Herbert?”

Regarding recent changes in attitude, here’s a further cite. In 1953, Kinsey et al. found that only one half of married women had experienced oral sex. By the 1970s, research indicated that 90% of wives had experienced oral sex (it doesn’t specify which way). So it wasn’t just that people didn’t talk about it, they didn’t engage in as much either (although plenty did still do it).

In '69.

In any case, in high school it was considered a pretty kinky practice. “Nice girls” didn’t do it, though some were willing as a way to avoid pregnancy (it was difficult to get birth control in the 60s – many doctors wouldn’t prescribe the pill for teens, and condoms were kept behind the drugstore counter, requiring a bit of courage to get).

I remember some article on prostitutes in the early 70s where they’d joke that they’d be out of business is wives did it to their husbands.

Slate had an article from 2008 discussing this issue. Studies are cited:

Also this:

So it seems the numbers indicate that there has indeed been rising since 1990.

The US rise in popularity seems to be related to the sexual revolution and the rise of agency of women in the process. The rise of the VHS and Internet and access to pornography have changed behavior too.

It is important to point out that marriage for love being the norm is a recent development in America’s short past. For most of it people married out of prudence, not love, and that was hoped to develop later. It was actually considered to be a moral failing to have too much affection for your wife around the time of the revolution.

That said, as someone who fixed home computers during the 1990’s, which unfortunately exposed peoples private lives in a very honest way, public behavior rarely matched with private behavior so data may be hard to find.

I think that Jimmy Carter was once asked if they had oral sex in Plains, Georgia. He responded: “Yes, but we don’t call it that.”

Presumably they didn’t call it that in Oklahoma either, or Mr & Mrs Roberts would have called their son Aural to save him embarrassment.

Auparishtaka in the Kama Sutra and Egyptian myth of Osiris who is brought back to life through oral sex by his sister show that it was present in the ancient world.

I would assume that the Abrahamic religion’s prohibitions and the Roman Catholic church’s belief that procreation was the only acceptable form of sex was largely responsible for the rarity when combined with tradition, non-love based marriages.

I do wonder if anything is documented during the “Courtly love” period, but until love as being a primary reason for marriage started to gain popularity in late 18th century I doubt that there was much public information on oral sex practices in an affectionate way like in Kama Sutra.

Here is a paper that will explain how sexual behavior was restricted by the church in the middle ages.


Note the penances.

For men “oral intercourse” was 3 years and for women “consumption of husband’s semen to inflame his lust” was 7 years.

OP here. I didn’t mean to imply that I thought oral sex was a recent innovation. Rather, I was under the impression that a 19th century man, for example, was going to need to go to a brothel if he wanted one, because the nice girl he courted by sitting in her parlour wasn’t into to that sort of thing. Whereas, now, it’s pretty common to be a part of a couple’s repertoire.

And I should say that I was thinking of western/American culture.

My guess was something along the lines of men coming back from Europe after one of the world wars also brought back new mores, or it was a part of the 60’s sexual revolution, or that the proliferation of VCRs increased the spread of pornography amongst the middle class, thereby exposing more people to the practice.

But I did acknowledge that my premise may be wrong. Is there a consensus here? Was oral sex a usual thing before, say, the world wars?

And a reference to fellatio somewhat earlier:

In Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel (1530s), referring to wine, he says:

Has oral sex by men on women actually decreased in the past few years as a result of the discovery of HPV and the HPV vaccine not being given to boys (at least in the UK)?

The cite I gave above implies there was a big shift in the 1960s, since the percentage of married women who experienced it went from 50% in the 1950s to 90% by the 1970s. (Still, 50% is pretty high; it was common enough but not universal.) But there may well have been an earlier rise in the 1920s linked to soldiers coming back from Europe who had experienced exotic French customs and the increasing independence of women.

An oral history [yes, pun noted, now lets move on) of women engaged in prostitution in Sydney during World War 2 noted that oral sex was a novelty that came in with visiting American troops.

It still leaves open whether that was something that John Q Citizen did at home in Wisconsin or it was some sort of boys-away-at-play phenomenon, or even whether the women involved, who would have to have been quite young themselves to be recorded in the 1980s, were sexually experienced before becoming caught up in prostitution.

I saw a bumper sticker that claimed Real Men don’t do it.