The challenge of facing sexual boundaries

KATHERINE FEENEY
Last updated 11:07 12/06/2013
sex
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PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES: It's fine for men and women to see certain sex acts differently, as long as they talk about it.

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"I've booked in for a facial".

She was met with little more than bawdy guffaws as the couchful of men before her heard pornified innuendo in her harmless message of personal indulgence.

Stunned, she stood agape, her knitted brow and open mouth begging for explanation.

"What? What's so funny?"

From the writhing fit of teen-boy hooting, one apparently grown man offered to elucidate.

"Well...," he began, as the snorts softened to wet sniggers. (They were waiting to see how he'd explain the source of their mirth to this dumbstruck innocent.)

"Facials... are... when you, er, 'arrive' on your girlfriend's... um...

"Face."

Cocky laughter erupts again.

"Oh," she said.

"That's disgusting."

But is it?

I'm trying hard to write this blog as sensitively as possible. It's one that needs to be written. Sex educators tell me more young people are asking about facials now than before. It is a subject that needs to be discussed as porn's influence on our sex lives becomes more apparent.

Neither element - the asking or the porn - represent something that is necessarily bad. But an absence of sensible discussion would. Therefore, the subject of today's blog is: What does it mean when a man wants to ejaculate on a woman's face?

With the addendum: Is it good or bad for women?

To the first question: What does it mean?

According to the literature there are several explanations. One school of thought says facials evolved out of the patriarchy's need to oppress women and degrade them sexually. Another views facials as a sign of how far the porn industry needs to go now to sell content. Facials mean money, which is bad for women because they're exploited for profit.

Another explanation, which also investigates the relationship between porn and the business of film, reasons facials could, in fact, signify a man's "longing for female acceptance" rather than a desire to dominate the so-called weaker sex. According to sex educator Charlie Glickman, facials in porn came about out as the movies evolved into longer features comprising several sex scenes. Ejaculation shots came to serve as the 'full stop' between each sex sequence. So ejaculation-on-face shots became a handy way of displaying "evidence of male pleasure" (read: ejaculation) at the same time as evidence that "a woman's reaction to that pleasure mattered". Glickman also points out that the majority of straight porn shows women happily accepting the facial.

This should be interpreted as symbolic of a man's need to be approved of by women, rather than to dominate them, he says. It's a need that may be understood by any woman who's only found acceptance of her own body through a man. Some girlfriends of mine, for example, have only come to terms with their sex organs when they've been with a bloke who clearly relishes his intimate interaction with them.

So is it possible that a female's apparent enjoyment of a 'facial' helps him feel ok about his sex organ? And if it's possible, does that mean this is simply a man asking "am I ok?", that he could feel more loved by her seeming to enjoy the act in question?

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It's possible. Sure - most things are possible. But do women actually enjoy it?

I put this question to my girlfriends and it garnered a mixed response. Of the three who had actually been there, one said yes, one said she didn't love or hate it and the other vehemently opposed ever doing it again, ever.

"He didn't even ask," she said. "He just went ahead and did it. Disgusting. I felt like he was a dog and I was a tree and he was just pissing all over me, but worse, because while I could return in kind if we were urinating dogs, I couldn't give him a facial in quite the same way.

"It just underscores the fact men's sexuality is all out-there, and women's is an inside thing, and because female sexuality is less apparent it's maligned, while men get all the attention."

How interesting. Would women feel less offended by the facial if they also had 'the power' to return the, uh, favour?

"I don't even see it in terms of him doing something to me, or at me," said the girlfriend who was fine with the facial.

"It's just something that happens in the moment of us having sex together - it's a mutual thing. It's him expressing myself, and his enjoyment of what we're doing, inasmuch as I might scream or pull his hair or scratch his back... sometimes I wrap my fingers around his throat... this is stuff that would be considered 'degrading' if he did it to me, but I don't do it to him as a power thing I get off on. It's just - I don't know - it's just the moment. We're in love, we trust each other, we're happy to push boundaries."

If anything, I believe the point to make here relates to the addendum: Are facial's good or bad for women?

My response: Facials may be good or bad, depending on the circumstance. It is certainly wrong to say all facials are bad. But it is also wrong to say facials are necessarily good for women, and men, and make for nourishing sexual relationships.

The point, as ever, is to talk about what this sex act means to you, and why. If you're a man who does it, or wants to do it, why? If you're a woman who's experienced it, or wants to experience it, or would utterly hate experiencing it, why?

If your honest answer is couched in harmful, negative terms, than it's clearly no good for you, or the people you encounter. But if you can prove a positive side to the subject, well, I'm happy to endorse this sex act as fine for happy, healthy, consenting adults to incorporate into their repertoire.

What about you?

- Sydney Morning Herald

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