Abolish 69

A clear and stinging analysis of heterosexuality's most indefensible position.

Abolish 69

No person who has ever experienced the so-called 69 position can be without an opinion on it. To speak responsibly about the male-female sexual relationship, one must inevitably arrive at a discussion of 69 and its role in the oppression of female seuxal pleasure. By inclusion of the (bizarrely) controversial act of oral sex alone, it provokes reaction. If you are a woman unable to access the pleasure of sucking cock, you will hate it on this basis. If you are a man resistant to placing your face against a woman’s fragrant folds, it is a non-starter. But let us turn our attention to those with no such reservations and imagine a couple comprised of two very oral sex-enthusiastic individuals who, in the course of their lovemaking, begin to contemplate assuming a 69 shape.

The argument in favor of 69—for, as we shall see, there is ultimately only one—is superficial and ill-conceived, reeking of sexual amateurism and an almost buffoonish blip of an insight. “I like going down on my partner, but I also like it when my partner goes down on me. What if these experiences could be combined?” The lover imagines a Reese's Cup-like sexual delight. Of course a great number of pleasurable experiences can be combined, but the wisdom behind doing such is always suspect. Only peanut butter and jelly, it turns out, go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Food is the most readily available comparison, one that cannot be undertaken without considering that the recruitment of food into one's nude gymnastics is an entry-level move for erotic dilettantes who, after viewing a few Venetian Blind Shadow Cinemax movies from the 1980s, have taken this inclusion of reified consuming in the very act of consumption to be a wildly subversive move. Soon they must discover that, unlike in the movies, various edible substances dry uncomfortably on the skin, alloy with bodily fluids to create a dispiritingly non-pleasant taste, or result in whipped cream-induced infections for women with sensitive vaginal ecosystems.

One who enjoys 69 may think of herself as a sensualist, desiring to obtain as much stimulation as possible during sex in order to be obliterated by sensation. They are pleasuring machines, pleasured by pleasure, and pleasuring the pleasurer who is pleasured by the same. Their orgasms are memories of prior orgasms. Hammered over the head (or in the crotch and face) with “pleasure,” they cry out—for pleasure! Sensualists, as we may also think of them, are disinterested in refining their palates and honing their awareness to delve into the nuances of absorption and transcendence that arise when one focuses one’s attention entirely on one act, preferring instead of short-circuit their system from force of overload. They are sexually immature.

They are disinterested in refining their palates and honing their awareness to delve into the nuances of absorption and transcendence that arise when one focuses one’s attention entirely on one act, preferring instead of short-circuit their system from force of overload. They are sexually immature.

Thus, the quotes around “pleasure," for 69ers are far more interested in pleasure as a notionality than pleasure as a real thing, numbed as they are to the inadequacies of the head they’re receiving due to the constant string of exclamation points crowding their mind, to wit: “Two things happening at once!!!!!!11!!!!1111!!!” For, reliably, the result of this sexual multitasking is poor on both ends: a lessening of intensity of received sensation and diminished ability to supply it.

These gluttons believe themselves to be epicures, conflating "more things" with "better things." Those who embrace 69 are likely the same persons who only want to eat cupcakes made with bacon or tacos made of Doritos. Give us the sexual minimalism that emphasizes allowing the ingredients to stand on their own. Give us a Thomas Keller and not a Guy Fieri.

Further examination of 69 confronts us with an unfortunate truth: it is a distinctly capitalistic, efficiency-emphasizing endeavor that erases the unique personhood of each participant by relying on a crude approximation of how human bodies fit together if human bodies are conceived of as identical, two-dimensional figures like the numbers of its name. While it is possible that two bodies might be so perfectly proportioned that, when flipped to be positioned feet to head with one another, the genitals and face align perfectly, a cursory survey of most human bodies would testify to this supreme improbability. Height alone is not the issue but rather distribution of that height along someone’s torso. Contortion will almost always be required of the neck and larger spine, creating an oft-unsustainable and painful form that dooms the experiment from the start. 69 lovers persist in ignoring this basic mechanical issue, assuming they can overcome their skeletal form through sheer willpower because, as has been hinted at in earlier passages, they are selfish simpletons invested in rejecting a reality that does not conform to their childish notion of sexual success.

69 demands that we take our unique physical forms, our torsos of varying lengths, our genitals of all sizes and sensitivities, and, instead of bending the position to accommodate them, bend our bodies to the will of the pangeniticon, of the pleasuring machine, of the system that is 69. In much the same way, the world in which capital expects us to live requires us to subsume all of our unique talents and temperaments to the world in which waged labor or entrepreneurship are our two options, all of us forced to trade work for money in order to live.

A true sexual artist does not allow their ministrations to be so pointlessly impeded and constrained. For someone who loves to lavish a cock with the skillful work of their tongue, the distraction of having to keep their hindquarters perfectly positioned for their partner’s own licking is an affront. Would you ask a painter to also hold still for a tattoo? Or ask the massage therapist to allow you to also stroke her hair?

A true sexual artist does not allow their ministrations to be so pointlessly impeded and constrained. 

The position also echoes the service economy in its demand (mainly on women) of a convincing performance of pleasure. It's not enough to simply be present and to competently do the job that's asked of you by your lover, you must also appear to simultaneously enjoy said lover's ministrations, regardless of the delicate balancing requiring to keep from suffocating him or breaking his nose. This is a form of emotional labor like that demanded from baristas, servers, and sex workers; not only do you have to do a good job, you have to like it.

The rare honest lover may tell you that your pleasure is not his concern, that he just wants his cock sucked while he has his face in your pussy because he likes that, and whether you like it or not is of no concern to him. That honesty relieves one of the duty to feign or attempt to find pleasure, but it hardly makes the enterprise less annoying.

Inevitably, a man such as this will make a great show of this request testifying to his “love” of “pleasing” a woman. You are well within your rights to ask such an individual, “if you are so mad about eating me out, why can you not give it your full attention? Why must my nose in your balls be the carrot before the horse?” While recreational sex is not work, 69 does its best to make it seem similar. Sacrifices in bed to make a partner happy are sometimes expected in long-term relationships, but this also we can blame on the fact that serial monogamous heterosexual relationships happen to be the ones that best serve capital.

Similarly, it has been said that bad head during 69 is better than no head at all. But someone who only participates in oral sex within the confines of 69 is a partner not worthy of the title——worthy only of ner," and not of Being-Part"——and if both parties are on board for giving and receiving, why not let each have their moments in the sun? Who is this sexual terrorist who waves a gun and declares, “bad head during 69 or no head at all”? And who accepts bad sex over a wank or another prowl around the bar for better options? Again, we see the pathetic lows to which 69 drives us: it renders us willing to accept underwhelming oral attention as though we are fleshly beggars who cannot expect or demand better. A culture that embraces 69 has surrended to a sexual futurelessness.

A culture that embraces 69 has surrended to a sexual futurelessness.

The most disturbing aspect of the act we save for last: It literally silences women, physically making them unable to speak, whilst also allowing a man to believe he is giving her pleasure. A woman who he can make come but who can't even speak to tell him how? A misogynist’s (wet?) dream. Only the most wildly, wrongly over-confident man presumes to need no feedback during sex, or cares not to clearly hear a woman’s groans and murmurs and breaths of delight.

We will be silenced by your sexual hubris no longer. There can be no freedom without an end to the tyrannical mediocrity of 69. Let us commit to a new world where this vision can be realized. Working together——but not at exactly the same time——we can achieve it.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard holds a DGaF in Strippers' Studies. Charlotte Shane is a sexual justice activist working to end the reign of fuckboys on Twitter.

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