Oral sex, young people, and gendered narratives of reciprocity

Lewis, R. and Marston, C. (2016) Oral sex, young people, and gendered narratives of reciprocity. Journal of Sex Research, 53(7), pp. 776-787. (doi: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1117564) (PMID:26849152) (PMCID:PMC4960515)

150969.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Young people in many countries report gender differences in giving and receiving oral sex, yet examination of young people’s own perspectives on gender dynamics in oral heterosex are relatively rare. We explored the constructs and discourses 16- to 18-year-old men and women in England used in their accounts of oral sex during in-depth interviews. Two contrasting constructs were in circulation in the accounts: on one hand, oral sex on men and women was narrated as equivalent, while on the other, oral sex on women was seen as “a bigger deal” than oral sex on men. Young men and women used a “give and take” discourse, which constructed the mutual exchange of oral sex as “fair.” Appeals to an ethic of reciprocity in oral sex enabled women to present themselves as demanding equality in their sexual interactions, and men as supporting mutuality. However, we show how these ostensibly positive discourses about equality also worked in narratives to obscure women’s constrained agency and work with respect to giving oral sex.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lewis, Dr Ruth
Authors: Lewis, R., and Marston, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Sex Research
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1559-8519
Published Online:05 February 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Ruth Lewis and Cicely Marston
First Published:First published in Journal of Sex Research 53(7):776-787
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record