I was 13 when I first heard Dizzee Rascal’s ‘I Luv U’. It became a secondary school banger but it would take a year before I could appreciate some of the lyrics. A few verses in and Dizzee rhymes: “I am not a Bocat, I don’t like the smell” –  i.e. he doesn’t give women oral sex because of their supposedly smelly vaginas.

According to Urban Dictionary the term “Bocat” means “pussy licker AKA going down on a gal”. Here at the heart of this massive grime anthem lay a deeply derogatory term that everyone was happily rapping along to. I distinctly remember having tens of my male and female friends chanting the lyrics with great enthusiasm. None of us found it odd at all.

Fast forward a few years and I am 16 and growing increasingly sexually frustrated at my all girls school. I think that I am extremely awkward but the boys from the local school are starting to take note. Somehow I end up with a “boyfriend” – I use that term loosely as we rarely had adult conversations, and I can almost guarantee that he thought of me as a friend with benefits.

He was in the year above me, we had a few friends in common and most of the time he was a pretty reliable guy.  I remember after months of holding out I finally decided I was ready to give him oral sex, but at no point did it cross my mind that he would wish to reciprocate. Cunnilingus-related conversations were rarely had during my teenage years. I heard the term ‘giving him head’ on a weekly basis, but discussions about a woman being pleasured? Forget about it.

After a few months of making out with my boyfriend, I became progressively bored with the pace of our physical relationship and I brazenly decided to ask if I might get some oral myself (through stumbling on to porn channels on our Sky box I had given myself a questionable sex education). As we lay on his bed watching a film, he laughed awkwardly and said: ‘Nah I don’t do that.’ Confused, I pressed him further and he simply said “No, I am not a bocat”.

Was this because we weren’t exactly “exclusive”? Was it an isolated incident? Nah, not likely. The stigma of oral sex (particularly amongst black men) is real. Some of you may remember the treatment of a previously unknown Dominic Celaire after a viral video surfaced of him giving cunnilingus to a woman on a staircase on New Years Day in 2014.

Although the act of giving oral in a public place is indeed shocking, the criticism of Celaire seemed disproportionate. Manchester United superstar, Rio Ferdinand was so disgusted by it that he took to Twitter: “I can’t even put the pic up on here..but the guy laying on the public stairs eating a saltfish pattie calmly…delete yourself quickly!”

“When listening to conversations between my male friends or family, I have heard many of them outright deny giving oral sex, despite their partners telling me otherwise”

Predictably, men seemed the most outraged by Celaire venturing to the land of the “saltfish pattie”. The nicknames for his indiscretion were endless. A video surfaced where he was accosted by a stranger on the tube who shouts at him for being a “pussy eater”. Black Twitter even managed to find out where he lived, and his school photos and memes have surfaced every New Years since “Patty Taster” gate.  Several of these names suggest that the act of cunnilingus is unhygienic and female genitals are more unclean than their male counterparts. If a woman had carried out the same act, they would have undoubtedly faced slut shaming, but I doubt there would have been an onslaught of this level of vitriol.

Several studies have since shown that there is a clear gender bias when it comes to giving and receiving oral sex. A study conducted amongst 16 to 18 years olds living in London demonstrated that women receiving oral sex was seen as “a much bigger deal” and when men received oral sex they were much more likely to be “congratulated”.

It goes without saying that there are men who love to give oral sex. I have had some epic encounters. A Nigerian guy that I dated would dutifully spend a lot of time finding my sweet spot. However, when listening to conversations between my male friends or family, I have heard many of them outright deny giving oral sex, despite their partners telling me otherwise.

Either they are lying to their friends or these women are lying to me. Is it really emasculating to put your head between a woman’s thighs and focus solely on her pleasure? Or perhaps women are too embarrassed to confess that they are not receiving oral sex? But why would anyone not want give pleasure to the person they are sleeping with?

Both men and women need to work to bury the cunnilingus taboos. Young women don’t need their vaginas compared to salt fish patties and young men do not need “bocat” label. Sex education is soon to become compulsory in all schools in England which will include information on maintaining healthy sexual relationships from primary school and practicing safe sex amongst young people. Consultations are still to be held on what will be included in the curriculum and parents will still be able to withdraw their child from these sessions. These steps may provide huge progress in creating healthy sexual relationships between young people that progress into adulthood. I hope that fewer young people will be mostly reliant on unrealistic portrayals of sexual interaction in pornography to build an understanding of sexual interactions.

Perhaps, one day soon oral sex will be viewed as two people coming together to experience a good time and all the stigma will be pushed aside.