Written by Jessie Sage, originally published in the Pittsburgh City Paper.
One of the most interesting things about writing this column has been interacting with readers who relatively frequently contact me to tell me about how my work relates to their thoughts, feelings, and relationships. Though less common, I also have folks ask for advice. This week, I have decided to tackle one of these questions.
In order to do this, let me set the scene: Last month I got an email from a reader that contained a video message. The woman who sent the message was topless in the video for reasons that were left entirely unexplained. But hey, I am naked half the time I write this column. (However, this is not an open invitation to send me naked videos.)Here is a synopsis of her two-part question (it was a really long video!). Part one: She is experiencing a lot of razor burn and irritated skin after shaving her bikini area. The man she is in a relationship with often performs oral sex on her after she shaves. He typically has a beard, but has recently shaven. Until he shaved, she didn’t realize that having him go down on her while he was bearded soothed her skin, scratched the itchy parts, and made her feel better. Part two: she wants to know how she gets him to both grow his beard back and go down on her again, without telling him why.
I am not going to spend too much time on the first part of the question. Razor burn itself is a medical issue. I have no medical expertise and don’t get a lot of razor burn myself, so I don’t have very many suggestions. However, even a cursory google search (I just did one myself), will give strategies for managing the irritation of shaving public hair.
In terms of getting relief from some bearded cunnilingus, I have never heard anyone say this. The person who sent this may be trolling me. Yet, when it comes to sex, I operate under the assumption that there is someone who is into everything, and that we ought to believe what people say about their own experiences. So, I’m going to go ahead and believe that this is actually helpful or pleasurable, while also admitting that I’m not enough of a hipster to have had a lot of bearded lovers.
The second part of this question is more important. How do you talk to your partner about what you want, especially when the reason for it is embarrassing? I am a big proponent of straightforward communication when it comes to sex. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be clinical or unsexy, just that you are more likely to get what you want, and for your partner(s) to feel comfortable and excited to give it to you, if you make it clear to them what it is.This is probably what I would say in this situation. While intimately talking in bed, or on the phone, or in text, I would bring up previous sexual experience that I enjoyed. I may say something like, “Do you remember the time we had sex on the kitchen counter, that was exciting! Oh, and I was also thinking about how much I loved it when you would go down on me with your full beard … I can’t wait until you can do that again.”
I would erotize the things I wanted or turn them into a fantasy in order to start talking positively about my desires. And if that was too subtle, I would just say, “Hey, I like it better when you go down on me with a beard, what do you think about growing it back?”
Jessie Sage is a sex worker and writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. She’s also the co-founder of Peepshow Magazine and the co-host of the Peepshow Podcast. Her words can be found in the Washington Post, VICE’s Motherboard, Hustler Magazine, Men’s Health, BuzzFeed, and more. She’s currently writing a book on sex work, motherhood, and illness called An Unexpected Place (forthcoming on West Virginia University Press).