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Sex, Gender, and Power: Cunnilingus and Fellacio in Casual Sex


Casual sexual hook ups are becoming more prevalent among heterosexual adults than in previous years. Although this may indicate a loosening of traditional sexual scripts that center male pleasure and relegate women as sexual submissives within heterosexual interactions, men and women are always ‘doing gender’, therefore, are in a constant state of power negotiations. Existing sociological research on oral sex in heterosexual hook-ups focuses on college women and adolescents and does not explicitly interrogate the association of oral sex with power. Drawing on a sample of 386 women’s advertisements for casual hook-up sex on Craig’s list, this study finds language that clearly associates oral sex with power. Fellatio is mentioned more often than cunnilingus and is linked in the ads to women’s sexual submission and dominance. Cunnilingus, on the other hand, is linked only with women’s dominance. These findings support previous research that casual hook-up sex tends to emphasize men’s domination as well as sexual pleasure. I argue that men’s domination and women’s submission, in the context of heterosexual sex is a mechanism for the doing of gender.

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