The long odyssey of oral sex through human history

Yes, this is a very old story, but not a sad one. Documentation of sexual practices, including oral sex, in ancient cultures can be found in various forms of historical evidence, such as written texts, art, and archaeological discoveries. While direct evidence may be limited due to the nature of the subject, there are some notable instances that provide insights into the ancient acceptance and understanding of oral sex.

May 23, 2023 - 22:16
The long odyssey of oral sex through human history
«Maison de la rue des Moulins, Rolande» by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1894)

It may be shocking to say it like that, but it's a fact and there's no other way to say it: our ancestors also liked to suck dicks and lick pussy. And when I say ancestors, I'm not just talking about our parents and grandparents, but of those who lived hundreds or thousands years ago. 

Yes, there are obvious evidences that oral sex has been practiced by humans for a very long time, dating back to ancient civilizations.

Historical and archaeological records indicate that various forms of oral sex were present in different cultures throughout history. Ancient texts, such as the Kama Sutra from ancient India, mention oral sex and various other sexual practices. The Kama Sutra, which was composed by Vatsyayana Mallanaga in the 2nd to 4th centuries CE, discusses different sexual techniques, including oral stimulation.

Additionally, depictions of sexual acts, including oral sex, can be found in ancient art and artifacts from civilizations like the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. These visual representations suggest that oral sex was practiced and acknowledged in ancient times.

Here are some examples:

  • Ancient Texts:

    • The Kama Sutra: As previously mentioned, the Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian text attributed to Vatsyayana Mallanaga, written in the 2nd to 4th centuries CE, discusses various sexual practices, including oral sex, in a detailed manner.
    • Roman Literature: Some Roman literary works, such as the Satyricon by Petronius, Decameron by Boccacio and the poems of Catullus, contain references to the practice of oral sex.
  • Ancient Art and Artifacts:

    • Ancient Indian Sculptures: Temples in India, such as the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, have stone carvings that depict various sexual acts, including oral sex. These temples were constructed between the 10th and 12th centuries and showcase scenes from daily life, including intimate encounters between individuals.
    • Roman Art: Some Roman frescoes, pottery, and artifacts have depicted sexual acts, including oral sex, as part of their artistic and cultural expression.
  • Anthropological Studies:

    • Some anthropological studies of isolated tribes and indigenous cultures have documented practices of oral sex within their societies.
  • Ancient Greek and Egyptian Sources:

    • While direct references to oral sex may be less explicit in surviving texts, certain Greek and Egyptian literature and art suggest a recognition of various sexual practices, including oral sex, as part of human relationships.

Sexual practices have been a part of human culture and expression for millennia. However, the attitudes toward and acceptance of different sexual practices have varied significantly across different societies and time periods. In some cultures, certain sexual practices, including oral sex, have been more openly acknowledged and accepted, while in others, they may have been subject to stigma or taboo.

As with any historical topic, our understanding of ancient sexual practices is based on the available evidence, which can sometimes be limited or subject to interpretation. Archaeological findings, ancient texts, and artistic representations are some of the primary sources used by researchers to gain insight into historical sexual practices. However, these sources may not provide a comprehensive or entirely accurate picture of the diversity of human sexual behavior in the past.

Diferent attitudes

Attitudes toward oral sex, like other sexual practices, can vary significantly across different cultures and societies. What is considered acceptable or taboo in relation to oral sex is shaped by cultural, religious, and social factors. It's important to note that attitudes toward sexual practices can evolve over time, and there may be variations within a culture based on individual beliefs and regional customs.

Here are some cultures and regions where oral sex is reported to be more openly accepted or less stigmatized:

  • Western Cultures: In many Western countries, particularly in Europe and North America, attitudes toward oral sex have become more liberal and accepting over the years. These regions tend to have more open discussions about sexuality, and there is greater recognition of individual sexual preferences and consensual adult activities.

  • Scandinavian Countries: Countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland are often considered more progressive in their attitudes toward sexuality, including oral sex. They place a strong emphasis on individual freedoms and sexual rights.

  • Netherlands: The Netherlands is known for its liberal attitudes toward sex, and sexual practices, including oral sex, are generally more openly discussed and accepted.

  • Brazil: Brazil has a relatively relaxed attitude toward sexuality, and sexual practices, including oral sex, are more openly acknowledged and less stigmatized compared to some other countries.

  • Thailand: Thailand's cultural attitudes toward sexuality can be more accepting, and sexual openness is often associated with aspects of Thai culture, including ancient traditions.

  • Japan: In certain aspects of Japanese culture, such as in some forms of traditional erotic art and literature, there is a historical acceptance of sexual exploration, including oral sex.

On the other hand, there are some cultures where oral sex might be considered more taboo or less openly accepted. For example:

  • Conservative Islamic Countries: In several conservative Islamic countries, sexual practices, including oral sex, are generally considered taboo and may be prohibited by religious teachings. These countries may enforce strict moral codes and have laws that criminalize certain sexual behaviors.

  • Some African and Middle Eastern Countries: Certain African and Middle Eastern countries with conservative cultural and religious beliefs may also frown upon oral sex and other non-heteronormative sexual practices.

  • India (in certain regions): While the ancient Indian text Kama Sutra acknowledges and discusses various sexual practices, including oral sex, modern-day India has a diverse range of cultural attitudes toward sex. In some regions or communities with more conservative values, oral sex may be seen as taboo or discouraged.

  • Southeast Asian Countries: In some Southeast Asian countries, sexual openness and discussions about certain sexual practices, including oral sex, may be relatively limited due to conservative cultural norms and traditional values.

  • Certain Latin American Countries: While some Latin American countries have more relaxed attitudes toward sexuality, there are regions and communities where conservative views on sexual practices still persist.

  • Some Eastern European Countries: In certain Eastern European countries, there may be conservative attitudes toward sexuality, and discussions about sexual practices, including oral sex, may be limited or considered inappropriate in some contexts.

Cultural attitudes are not uniform within a country or region, and there can be significant variations based on factors like urbanization, education, exposure to different cultures, and generational differences. Moreover, attitudes toward sexuality are evolving in many societies due to increased globalization, access to information, and changing social norms.

As with any aspect of human behavior, it's crucial to understand the cultural context and norms of a particular society while also recognizing the importance of individual autonomy, informed consent, and respectful relationships.

Regardless of cultural norms, the most important aspect of any sexual activity is informed consent and the willingness of all parties involved. In any context, consent, respect, and open communication between partners are fundamental for healthy and enjoyable sexual experiences.

And we must remember that depictions of sexual practices in ancient art and literature may not always represent societal norms or values universally accepted within a culture. Sexual practices and their acceptance could have varied significantly across different social classes, regions, and historical periods. The interpretation of ancient art and literature is subject to scholarly analysis and debate, and context plays a crucial role in understanding the intended meaning and significance of these depictions.

Overall, the evidence of oral sex in ancient cultures is not as abundant as other aspects of daily life, as topics related to sexuality were often considered private and were not always extensively documented in historical records. Nonetheless, the existing evidence does suggest that oral sex and various sexual practices were recognized and depicted in different ancient cultures, reflecting the complexity and diversity of human sexual expression throughout history.

Nicole Dupond Member of EA Coordination Team