The Blowjob Historically: Why The World Loves Head


We've talked about blowjobs quite a few times. We've given blowjob recommendations. And also some things not to do during blowjobs and even more things not to do during blowjobs. Also, Camille Crimson gave us 5 reasons to give a good blowjob, as well as Camille's top 5 tips for giving a blowjob. But where does the idea of blowjobs come from, anyway? How has this coveted act been portrayed over the centuries? Bethany Kibblesmith is back with a well-researched two-part series on blowjobs: a historical perspective.

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Fellatio. What a great word. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t? It might surprise you, but the blowjob is older than you could guess.

But where did the blowjob come from? As well as I can guess, it has likely always been a part of mammalian sexual practice. Not across the board of course. Some of you might have heard of bonobo apes before, a close relative to chimps and, well, to us. Anthropologists and biologists, as well as sexologists, are basically obsessed with bonoboes, because of their extensive recreational sexual behavior. They have sex for fun, females exchange oral sex, and they do indeed engage in fellatio. Just like us!

Scientists have also seen fellatio while watching fruit bats have sex. They found that if the female fellated the male, sex lasted significantly longer. Many, many other kinds of animals engage in licking behavior, but I’m not confident enough to label this an exclusively sexual behavior.

As for humans, the very first recorded mention of something resembling fellatio would be the myth of Osiris and Isis in ancient Egypt. Long story short, Osiris was killed and cut up by an evil jealous brother. His penis was missing, so they made him a fake one and his wife, Isis, used her breath to bring it to life. Sounds like a blowjob to me!

The word fellatio is derived from Latin, from a word simply meaning ‘to suck’. Further, the one doing the sucking is referred to as a fellatrix if female, a fellator if male. The word ‘fellatio’ first appeared in print in 1887, but the act itself is older. Way, way older.

In fact, the Romans distinguish between two types of oral sex with a male partner; there is fellatio, which is a blowjob where the purpose is for the fellatrix/fellator to arouse their partner or stimulate them to the point of ejaculation.

The Romans also had a name for oral sex where the penis was more forcefully inserted into the receiver’s mouth and stimulated via hip thrusts. This is called irrumation. This kind in particular was used to establish dominance and to shame or punish the fellator or fellatrix, often a slave or person of lower status.

In the ruins of Pompeii, there are frescos on the walls of brothels and bath houses depicting both kinds of fellatio. In Rome, as in Greece, the blowjob was seen as a taboo, an act only prostitutes or lowly people performed. There are also various pieces of pottery from Rome and Greece showing blowjobs, some from as early as 510BCE.

The blowjob, in all its glory, could not possibly be contained in the Mediterranean. The Moches, a Peruvian civilization, also used fellatio as decorative element in their pottery. Another fabulous fellatio vessel from a different Peruvian culture shows how common this sex act was among these people.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an ancient culture that didn’t have some clear evidence or artifact showing fellatio’s presence in sexual activities. These aren’t coincidental, rare fluke items. Chinese scrolls show blowjobs, as do Japanese scrolls, and most importantly, it is at this point we get to talk about the Kama Sutra, one of the most modern, sex positive ancient texts.

It might surprise you to know that the blowjob, in the Kama Sutra, was not elevated to the almost spiritual status of other sex acts. In unspecified circumstances, it was acceptable, and Indian art of this time extensively details contorted ways to fellate, but it was still seen as a dirty act, practiced mostly by eunuchs, lower-class women and lusty women. The practice was still described in extensive detail, including a mention of 69ing (Congress of the Crow!), but was seen as inappropriate for married women to perform.

This is merely part 1 in a two-part series on the history of blowjobs. Find out more in our next edition!


We're very excited to have Bethany Kibblesmith as GetLusty's newest writer. She's passionate about keeping it sexy inside and outside the bedroom in her own relationship and in yours.  

Bethany is twenty-two and an English major. When she isn't scrambling to finish homework, she's with her boyfriend, reading, doing yoga or cooking. She enjoys the finer things in life like, secondhand clothes, warm showers, and socks without holes. She writes plays when she isn't writing for school or GetLusty. And if you meet her she will, without question, make a sex joke at some point. Email her at Bethany@GetLusty.com if you have any questions!
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