Oral sex is becoming a more common activity for young women, says an University of Alberta researcher, who has asked for researchers, sex educators and marketers of safer-sex paraphernalia need to catch up with the trend.
Brea Malacad conducted a study on oral sex, which showed that the act has become a fundamental part of what she calls the "sexual revolution of the 21st century".
"From my study, all of the women who had engaged in sexual intercourse had also engaged in oral sex as well. This data tells us that oral sex is becoming very much a part of most young people's sexual repertoire," said Malacad.
Viral urban myths such as rainbow parties (an alleged group-sex event where women, all wearing different coloured 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 sex education 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 that the act is hardly the "new goodnight kiss" among young people as has been suggested in some media reports.
The participants' emotional response 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. 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," said Malacad.
The 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.
The study is published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care.