Study shows behaviors and attitudes towards oral sex are changing

Aug 11, 2010

University of Alberta researcher Brea Malacad says results from a study on oral sex indicate there is little doubt that oral sex is becoming a more common activity for young women. Study results show the act has become a fundamental part of what Malacad calls the "sexual revolution of the 21st century". And she concludes that researchers, sex educators and marketers of safer-sex paraphernalia need to catch up with the trend.

"From my study, all of the women who had engaged in sexual intercourse had also engaged in oral sex as well," said Malacad, who recently published the findings in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. "This data tells us that oral sex is becoming very much a part of most young people's sexual repertoire."

Viral urban myths such as rainbow parties (an alleged group-sex event where women, all wearing different colored lipstick, perform oral sex on men) and media reports of the "exploitation and over-sexualization of young women," as Malacad explains it, was part of the decision to undertake the study to understand what young women are really doing and what it means for the teens, parents and for in general.

Malacad's findings reveal that behaviours and attitudes towards oral sex are changing. Her research shows that while 50 per cent of respondents viewed oral sex as a less intimate activity than intercourse, 41 per cent believe oral sex to be as intimate an act as intercourse and the remaining nine per cent view it as more intimate than intercourse. And while Malacad's findings indicate that certainly oral sex has become more accepted, she says the act is hardly the "new goodnight kiss" among young people as has been suggested in some media reports.

The participants' to oral sex was also something that surprised her.

"Both intercourse and oral sex were associated with mostly positive emotions overall, which suggests that most young women are engaging in these activities because they enjoy them," said Malacad. "Based on the results of my study, there is a percentage of women (just over 30 per cent) who feel powerful when performing fellatio. Apparently some women find it empowering and believe that it can wield a lot of power."

There is an air of caution, she notes, before parents start locking up their daughters to protect them from rampant sexual behaviour. Of a sample of the 181 participants of Malacard's study who were aged 18 to 25, many had only one sexual partner after becoming sexually active. And 25 per cent of participants had not engaged in any sexual activity at all.

Malacad says that the media sends mixed messages to teenage girls about sexuality. On the one hand, are criticized for being oversexualized, and on the other, they are encouraged to freely express their sexuality. She refers to Kim Catrall's character Samantha in the Sex and the City television series, a woman who was strong, independent, empowered and who very sexually aggressive, as being a role model for women to be accepted as sexual beings.

"I guess, depending on the perspective, young women's sexuality can be seen as a positive, empowering thing for women or a very negative thing," she said.

This mainstreaming of oral sex is a change in the tide of sexual behaviour; it also means that sex educators need to catch up to the trends, noted Malacad. With many young people still ignorant to the fact that sexually transmitted infections can just as easily be passed orally, a whole new topic of discussion needs to appear in the safer sex curriculum delivered to students. The results of her study also show that there is a seemingly untapped market for makers of safe-sex products, too.

"Eighty-two per cent of respondents said that they never used protection when engaging in oral sex, compared to only seven per cent for intercourse; it's almost like it didn't occur to them to protect themselves when having oral sex," said Malacad, who teaches the sex-ed teacher delivery course in the Faculty of Education. "I don't think young people are aware that infections can be spread this way and there are options in terms of protecting oneself."

Malacad says that while parents should be a child's first sex educators, not all are comfortable talking about it with their kids, or are ill-informed about the current realities of teens and sex. She says Alberta still leads many provinces in having a mandatory sex education program, and she would like to see a parent component of the program to educate them as well. First, however, that requires educating teachers and pre-service teachers about how—and what—to teach the teens. That talk, she says, goes far beyond basic anatomy.

"In order to provide relevant sex education, we need to get into these difficult topics that have to be talked about: the uncomfortable things that teens really need to know about—sexually transmitted infections and transmission of disease, particularly through oral sex, as well as the social and emotional implications of sexual activity," said Malacad. "We need to be giving them (the most) honest and reliable information in the classroom (possible)."

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User comments : 14

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mpeppermint23
Aug 11, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Eric_B
5 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2010
busy tonight?
Caliban
not rated yet Aug 11, 2010
@m,
So, what happens after deligature? Is the treatment returned?
Wouldn't that be a truer measure of how far we've "come" via the sexual revolution? Assuming you are female, of course.
CHollman82
5 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2010
This articles title should be "It's a good time to be alive!"
Eco_R1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
as i am more than willing to receive and give oral pleasure, this is not a scientific article, and should rather be posted on health24,not Physorg!
TAz00
not rated yet Aug 12, 2010
Sex is as natural as breathing, someone was just smart enough to make a study out of it to earn money.
Eric_B
not rated yet Aug 12, 2010
"Sex is as natural as breathing, someone was just smart enough to make a study out of it to earn money."

The bigger question is if he got SEX out of the study...sample groups?
denijane
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2010
"...results from a study on oral sex indicate there is little doubt that oral sex is becoming a more common activity for young women".
I'm sorry but I don't understand why it shouldn't?! Sex is completely normal behavior and that includes both oral, vaginal and anal sex. It's normal people to have preferences to some of the types of sex, it's not normal to relate those preferences to the promiscuity of young women. Which I think such studies implicitly do. At least in the context of the article.
It's 21st century, it's about time we finally get rid of this fear of sex in all of its forms. As long as all participants are happy and healthy, it's good.
And I think that feeling empowered by oral sex is not precisely a healthy relationship. The question is why young women need to do that to feel empowered!
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2010
I'm sorry but I don't understand why it shouldn't?!

Faulty dogma and self centered persecution of women who0 do whatever they want is the cause.

If anything this study shows that women are gaining greater equality and power.

Never thought I'd be saying that in the comments field on a study about blowjobs.
MarkyMark
not rated yet Aug 12, 2010
A very....Unexpected article for a science website. Netherless if women like it and feel empowered by it [i know my girl is] Then good for you ;)
frajo
5 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2010
A proclamation of the "sexual revolution of the 21st century" is a bit bigmouthed considering the sample size (181) versus the population size (more than 1 billion). They didn't interview students in Shanghai or Nairobi, I assume.
HealingMindN
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2010
..They didn't interview students in Shanghai or Nairobi, I assume.


I assume the study was only in Canada. I believe Brea needs some help with this study, so I should be taking the first plane to Alberta. I shall be the one to educate these young woman.

P.S. Did you guys catch the oral hygiene ads by Google on this page?
Xaero
Aug 12, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2010
A proclamation of the "sexual revolution of the 21st century" is a bit bigmouthed considering the sample size (181) versus the population size (more than 1 billion). They didn't interview students in Shanghai or Nairobi, I assume.

I was referring to the North America. Europe is far ahead of us, possibly as far ahead of us as we are of China.
fixer
Aug 14, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
frajo
3 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2010
Did you guys catch the oral hygiene ads by Google on this page?
No. I'm using some little helpers to suppress ads. And I'm a sponsor.
croghan27
5 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2010
A proclamation of the "sexual revolution of the 21st century" is a bit bigmouthed considering the sample size (181) versus the population size (more than 1 billion). They didn't interview students in Shanghai or Nairobi, I assume.


Good point, frajo .... inject some science into what can all to easily be a smutty conversation.