If a guy ever approached me with a fork and knife in hand, I would immediately run in the other direction — so why do we call oral sex on a vulva "eating out?" These are the questions that literally keep me up at night, hence why I'm writing this. But let's back TF up first. (If you're currently reading this in class, you might want to dim your screen a little — trust me.)

What is oral sex? 

"Oral sex generally refers to oral-genital contact, but more broadly, it might include all types of oral pleasure including anal," said Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist, and host of the online course Mind-Blowing Oral: Clitoral Edition. 

Planned Parenthood lists the colloquial terms for oral sex as "going down, blow job, and eating out," and describes the act as "using your mouth to stimulate another person's genitals." It's a giving-and-getting relationship. Some like giving but not getting, others like getting but not giving. Some like both — the importance is comfortability and communication. 

To keep things exciting, “the general idea is to be playful,” said Dr. Pepper Schwartz, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Washington. “To suggest things you haven’t done, to be adventurous.”

Okay, but what does “eating out” mean? 

According to Dictionary.com, the term “eating out” has been around since 1969 (interesting year to originate from if you ask me) and “involves performing oral sex on a vagina and sometimes anus. The connection is the mouth, hence eating.” The term likely comes from the latin word cunnilingus, which translates to "one who licks the vulva."

From the 1990s to now, “eating out” has become a phrase used more casually. By the early 2000s, the term was used commonly in porn and intimate conversations between partners, and remains present in pop culture. One of the more notable instances is “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. With lyrics like “gobble me, swallow me,” the song depicts the desire to be eaten out.  

More recently, the term has evolved. In 2022, Ice Spice released “Munch (Feelin’ U)” with a chorus that had many on TikTok going wild and calling themselves or their significant other a munch. “I would define 'munch' as, like, just an eater, or somebody that’s, like, obsessed with you, or it could be a hater," said Ice Spice in an interview with Genius. "Either way, they still obsessed with you." When clarifying what “eater” meant, she said someone who likes to eat and then laughed.

What’s good about eating out — or munching — is that anyone, no matter their gender identity or sexuality, can take part in enjoying it. Urban Dictionary lists a couple of practices including licking, nibbling, and sucking. Generally, one would use their mouth, lips, tongue, hands, and/or face to enjoy sexual pleasure. In Jess O'Reilly's Mind-Blowing Sex video course, some tips feature breath kisses — breathe warm air over the thighs and over the lips very gently as though you’re blowing the most gentle of kisses — and nose job — using your nose to explore for pleasure.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to where this questionable term originated from, so I will continue not sleeping at night. But no matter where it came from, be sure you know what your significant other means by "eating out" for your Valentine's Day dinner.