To this day, folks will debate that one of my favorite songs by the R&B group SWV, “Rain” is about sex even though Coko has made it clear that it’s not. Now another one of their classics, “Downtown”? That’s about the matter entirely. In fact, some hail it as being one of the most sex-positive songs of its time when it comes to — we’re all grown here, right? — cunnilingus. Its praise makes a lot of sense being that it is the act that helps women climax the most.
You know, I did some reading up on oral sex in this country, in general. It looks like around 80 percent of both men and women experience pleasure from it, around 22 percent have an orgasm most of the time (that’s it?!) and most sexually active folks who choose to partake in fellatio and/or cunnilingus do it around five times a week. Yeah, oral sex is bomb and most of us know it.
So, what if you happen to be like a married girlfriend of mine who could literally take it or leave it? It’s not that you haven’t tried to understand the hype; it’s just that, no matter how much you’ve tried to get into it, you just…don’t.
If you’re shaking your head up and down at your monitor or phone screen because this is exactly how you feel, oftentimes getting to the root of an issue can help to resolve it. So, let’s explore some reasons why either you’d prefer not to have oral sex or you’re not enjoying as much as so much of the free world seems to be.
You’re Not Comfortable with Your Vulva/VaginaGiphy
I recently saw an exchange on Twitter that was like the checkmate shot that was heard around the world. Someone had posted a clip of a woman talking about how disgusting she found uncircumcised men to be. One of the things she said was, “Eww. Who wants to deal with all of that extra skin?” Most of the women in the comments were all agreeing and then a guy posted a chart of different vaginas — many of which had all kinds of hanging vulvar skin (where do y’all think the slang “roast beef curtains” comes from?). Like I said…checkmate (by the way, women have a greater chance of experiencing a vaginal orgasm from an “uncut” man due to the extra skin…the more you know).
Anyway, my (main) point is this — no one should feel ashamed of how they were born…men and you included. Besides, I promise you that most men don’t have the same kind of hang-ups about our bodies as we do. In fact, many guys will tell you that they’re even a fan of Arby’s (if you know what I mean).
So, what can you do if you are so self-conscious about your vagina that it’s keeping you from relaxing during oral activity? A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey.” Check it out when you get a chance. The more time you spend exploring your own vagina, the more comfortable you will get with it — and that will make it easier to share it with your partner. Maybe not immediately but certainly eventually.
You Haven’t “Prepped” Your Vagina Properly
Seems like a few throwback memories are coming to mind with this topic (LOL). Y’all remember the episode of The Game when Tasha Mack was telling her then-boyfriend Danté Young (played by Terrence J) that she enjoyed having sex with him right when he got off work and before he hopped into the shower? Yeah, that’s a hard pass for me. If you want me to enjoy all (and I do mean ALL) of you, make sure that bathtub does first.
Most of the men I know feel the same way; however, this particular point isn’t just about hygiene (check out “Are You Washing Your Vagina Correctly? You Sure?” and “Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes”). Vaginal prepping also includes deciding how you want your pubic hair to be (also check out “Yep. Pubic Hair Has Trends (And Specific Needs) Too.”) and consuming a diet that keeps everything fresh down below (a couple more: “Foods That Keep Your Vagina Smelling Right (And The Ones That Don’t)” and “10 Ways To Have An 'Extra Sweet' Vagina”).
By the way, when it comes to vaginal grooming, if you’re in a long-term relationship, you might want to discuss that with your partner. The reason why I say that is I once counseled a married couple where the husband said that he didn’t enjoy being on the giving side of oral because — and I quote — “I prefer a golf course to a jungle.”
Listen, I know some of you modern-day women don’t wanna think too long about doing what makes your partner happy when it comes to your own body but being that his face is gonna get closer to your vulva and vagina than you ever will (unless you’re one hell of a contortionist!), it’s worth making the compromise. Just ask the wife in the story that I just told you. #wink
The Foreplay Sucks (Not in a Good Way Either)Giphy
As far as oral sex is concerned, it’s interesting to see where people land on whether they consider it to be foreplay — or not. On one hand, a basic definition of foreplay is it’s any kind of sexual stimulation that is a prelude to sexual intercourse. On another, oral sex does have the word “sex” in it, so…yeah…technically, it is a form of sex.
Personally, I think that before oral sex — giving or receiving — starts, there should be some other forms of stimulation going on: lots of kissing, plenty of caressing, maybe a massage…other things to get you warmed up. Otherwise, if oral sex happens right out the gate, it can seem awkward instead of seductive and that can make climaxing more difficult.
So, what if the main issue for you is the foreplay is lacking or not as good as you’d like it to be? At the end of the day, sex is one of the ultimate forms of communication, so make sure to run that by your partner. Well, wait — before you do, read “What If The Sex Is Good...But The Foreplay Isn't?” and also do some sex journaling so that you can figure out what turns you on and what doesn’t…so that you can clearly express your needs and expectations to your partner. After all, it’s not fair to expect him to figure out what you don’t even know. Work on improving foreplay — together.
You Need to Up Your Dirty Talk Game
Maybe it’s because my top love language is words of affirmation. Maybe it’s because I write for a living. Who knows, chile? But when it comes to dirty talk, it’s not really something that I’ve struggled with saying or hearing. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things about sex.
I know we’re not all the same because many of my clients have told me that either they hate dirty talk or they feel semi-ridiculous doing it. I can’t do much for the people who stand behind Door #1 but if you’re someone who’s behind Door #2, my two cents would be to 1) stop overthinking it and 2) focus on telling your partner what pleases you, how much it pleases you when they do “it” and what you’d like to receive more of. The key is to not sound like an anxious drill sergeant and instead like…the main character (Lovely) from the movieGirl 6 (the real ones know).
Yes, dirty talk can consist of a mixture of instructions and affirmations. The good thing about that is, oftentimes, it can help your partner to know how to please you and it can sexually excite you to hear your own self tell him how. Trust me.
You Don’t Enjoy Giving It
Unpopular opinion or not, I’ve always said that I think that men have more to deal with during cunnilingus than we do with fellatio. I mean, unless he’s heavy on the pre-ejaculate, giving oral sex to a guy is basically like sucking on a thumb until the “big moment” at the end. Us though? Folds of skin. Lubrication. Pubic hair. Vaginal scents (when a vagina is healthy, most men fully enjoy our natural “aroma,” by the way). As I said…lots going on.
That’s why, when women give me the “eww” about a penis being in their mouth while also holding the stance that a man not going down on them is a deal-breaker, I find myself rolling my eyes. At the very least, that’s an entitled and selfish approach to the act.
So, what can you do if it’s simply not your cup of tea? Before totally avoiding it, try doing some things that will “distract” you a bit — put a flavored condom on it or apply some flavored lube. Play around with an ice cube that’s made of juice (literally freeze the juice and then put one of the cubes into your mouth). Bring your hands into the act, so that you can control how much of his shaft goes into your mouth. Oh, and before all of this, get into the shower with your partner. Chances are, if you play a direct role in the cleanliness part of the program, it will put your mind more at ease.
You Don’t Enjoy Receiving It
The wife that I mentioned to you earlier? She said that out of all of her sex partners (including her husband and it hasn’t only been a handful), only one guy was able to get cunnilingus right. Problem is, she can’t remember what he actually did “correctly,” so she hasn’t been able to coach anyone else through the process. *le sigh*
It’s not unheard of that some people don’t enjoy cunnilingus and/or fellatio. If you and your partner fall into one of those categories and are fine with that…fine. But if you don’t enjoy receiving oral sex and it’s not for a lack of trying, this is where communication comes into play. Don’t just settle for how your partner does it, get frustrated and quit. If he truly cares about you, he’s going to want to please you. So, light some scented soy candles, play some of your favorite throwback R&B music, put a pillow underneath your backside, and RELAX. Start things off slow. Kindly express what feels good and what doesn’t and don’t look at the experience like a race to the finish.
Also, don’t feel bad if you’re not automatically climbing the walls either. Although clitorises are highly sensitive, “waking them up” requires different techniques for different people. Something that may help (outside of his mouth) is a stimulating type of lube — one that is specifically designed to get your clit up and going (like this one here).
You know what they say — if you build it, they will come. In this case, here’s hoping that you will, sis.
You and Your Partner Don’t Have a Strong Enough ConnectionGiphy
There’s a lot to be said for sexual chemistry when it comes to achieving ultimate sexual pleasure — and that can happen well before you and someone get naked. You’re deeply attracted to each other. The body language is strong. When you do talk about sex, you seem to be on the same page (of interests and desires). If you add to that the feeling of being fully accepted and to that, being able to trust them to just…let go without any hindrance or reservations — that is the perfect foundation for some pretty great oral sex and intercourse.
See, even with all that I just said, it’s not really going to matter much if the two of you don’t have a strong connection — whether it’s physically or (preferably) holistically. So, if all of what I said doesn’t seem to work, take some steps back, so that you and he can get deeper into each other. Go on more dates. Do some more sharing with each other on a mental and emotional level. Kiss — long and passionately — to see if there is some serious stimulation there.
Two people who feel like they can’t get enough of each other before sex happens are two people who have a far greater chance of helping each other “see the mountaintop” once sex does go down. Oral sex included.
Now calm down and have some fun! I mean it.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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