The Sexist

Semen Facials Are Like Weddings

Last week, The Frisky writer Jessica Wakeman stood up in defense of the facial. Wakeman argued that the old porn standby—whereby a man ejaculates onto a woman's face—isn't inherently demeaning, as long the woman wants it. "In some porn films, the facial is played up to emphasize his humiliation of and domination of her, but in other porn flicks, the money shot is just something the actors do," she wrote. "In real life, I suspect facials happen more for pleasure than for humiliation, seeing as women have a little thing called self-respect."

But Wakeman errs in her either/or assumption about the sex act: that facials are either grounded in mutual respect, and elicit pleasure, or are grounded in degradation, and elicit humiliation. In fact, facials can imply all of these things, though we rarely analyze it all in the moment. Plenty of sex acts made popular in mainstream pornography, like facials, are based on achieving male pleasure. Under this model, the female's pleasure is derived by successfully pleasing the male—and in the process, allowing herself to be degraded. As Amanda Marcotte writes, "our culture constructs sex as something women do for men, and men do for fun." That model of sexuality is undoubtedly objectifying for women. But it nevertheless—voilà!—conjures up an idea of "pleasure" for both sex partners.

Interestingly, Wakeman concedes that the facial is an act loaded with objectification and subjugation—in porn. When this act is removed from the context of pornography and placed into the bedroom of a Man and Woman Who Love Each Other Very Much, however, those demeaning undertones disappear for Wakeman. I can understand that: actually thinking about the implications of why we like jizz on our face tends to put a damper on the whole mutual-attraction-to-degradation thing. So what do we do? We compartmentalize. When porn stars do it, it's degrading; when we do it, it's respectful:

I think leaving facials up to the porn stars—actors who are making the facial appear to humiliate the woman—is what keeps it looking demeaning. Certainly some facials are depicted in porn as humiliating or degrading, but not every man who wants to give a facial wants it to degrade and humiliate just like it looks onscreen. Many do love and respect their partners, and know, to varying degrees, that porn isn’t real. Likewise, some of those female partners enjoy the act as well.

When Wakeman liberates the facial from the demeaning clutches of the porn industry, she performs a useful little trick for us feminists—she separates her sex life from her personal philosophy. We all perform this function in our daily lives—detesting cruelty to animals while eating meat, denouncing philanderers while cheating on our wives, denouncing corporate America while smoking cigarettes. But it's a particularly common move when it comes to sex. Why? Because getting off is very necessary, very much informed by a tradition of male dominance over women, and can be very, very hard to accomplish if you only allow yourself to get off progressively. Of course, that doesn't mean that enjoying performing or receiving facials means that you hate women, or that you have no self-respect, or that you're a bad feminist. It just means that the patriarchy affects a lot of the things that we perform and enjoy on a daily basis, and it's good to remember that our attempts to recast these acts as "empowering" isn't so much transgressive as it is convenient.

See, facials are like weddings. We all know that the institution of marriage is one of the patriarchy's all-time greatest hits, in which women are sold into sexual slavery from father to husband in exchange for livestock. And yet, who derives the greatest joy from weddings? Women! It's the craziest thing. But even though we all know that weddings were clearly institutionalized to facilitate the willing subjugation of women, feminists figure out a way to do it anyway. Why? Probably because even though we all know it's sexist as fuck, weddings—like facial ejaculation—still make some people happy.  And feminists deserve to be happy, too. But that doesn't mean we should forget about the sexist tropes that sometimes inform our happiness (and our sex lives).

  • Rose

    Interesting debate ... It's only porn because the sexual act(s) are filmed for the sole purpose of extracting money out of the millions of people who watch it!!

  • thecreepyguy

    You know i honestly expected this site to be rampant with misandry and consisted of only and entirely a one way conversation between women JUST from the way it looked (having come from several websites that claimed to offer equal discussion between men and women but did not)

    Feministing anyone?

    It just proves the saying: You cant judge a book by it's cover.

    I think the foolish people in this thread have been exposed thoroughly by both men and women which i was delighted to see

    Agreed with

    MRS D
    and dirk even with the uneeded and unwanted details of his sex life.

    Was worth the loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong read

  • kristyn

    Hey Creepy ---

    Good job reading only the concern-troll posts.

    I'm glad your comment-policing didn't find any ''misandry.'' I'm going to go back to living in a world where men rape women all the time and assert that they don't like sex, just money, so I need to perform like a porn star. But put more clothes on because I am a whore. Except not that much clothing because now I am killing their boners.

    In summary -- FAIL.

  • Barry

    When I get female juice all over my face, I don't see people protesting the act as demeaning to men. I like my partners juice on me, and I put it there because I am turned on by my partner and the female body. Men like to ejaculate on a woman not out of domination but for the way it makes them feel loved and sexy when his partner wants his juices on her face. I've never ejaculated on a face that seemed less than 100% willing. You will always find sociopaths that are exceptions to the rule, but most men are not out to humiliate women in bed.

  • Joe

    Why waste the man's jizz all over her face. Just give her respect and jizz IN her mouth, then there is no mess for her to clean up.

  • Mike


    If you ever in Orlando, I would like to accommodate you in your fetishes.

  • http://. Jim

    I think it's ludicrous that people see the facial as being akin to spitting on women, a way of showing disrespect or degradation directly from the porn industry.

    Frankly, you're giving the creators of modern pornography far too much credit. I think few of them would have even begun to think of their products as vehicles for or metaphors for sexist thoughts.

  • LOL


  • Ken

    Reading through these blogs makes me very happy and fortunate to be a gay man and not worry about the politics of sex that straight folk seem obsessed with. My boyfriend and I love giving each other facials and dont view it as demeaning at all. It only is demeaning if one partner feels that way. What happenend to simply enjoying sex? Why does there need to be some hidden agenda behind each act?

  • Danny

    I think in the end it comes down the people involved. If the woman doesn't like it then by all means its face and she can tell the men she has sex with that the facial is off limits and thats the end of it. If she is into it then let her and her guy be.

    Honestly I think this is a matter of people trying to condemn the act as ammunition to use against men in general and/or take agency away from women to make them look more like victims than they really are.

    Trying to liken porn to rape (unless the content in question is rape being passed off as porn which is different story) is a dirty tactic.

  • Stan

    At least half the fun in sex is pleasing your partner. A lot of women get turned on by playing in their man's cum.(on the hands, breasts, face). most men want their woman to WANT their cum. That is the turn on not a girl who is upset by it. Adult entertainment in general is violent and demeaning for all of the players(men/women/animals) involved. It caters to their core audience not the 90% of the rest of the population(who also like forms of pornography). Everyone talks about how huge the Porn business is but it only amounts to a few billion dollars a year. It sounds like a lot but the 5 biggest mainstream(Avatar is already at 750 million and its only half way through its run) movies bring in the same revenue as the entire adult industry so it is actually a much smaller and marginalized audience than is claimed.

  • nikita

    Interesting comments everyone! :)

    I myself consider myself a feminist (have the tattoo to prove it hehe). I've thought about this subject a lot and believe that if a woman wants a guy to jizz on her face, and the guy is down w/ it, then have at it! Consent is key, and that goes for facials, spanking, dirty talk, bondage,squirting in his face, etc.


    As for the porn part of this...much more complex. I wonder how many 13 year old boys and girls are watching porn and thinking that all girls like getting their faces jizzed, that all girls like anal sex, you get the idea. It's sad, but from my own experiences, kids don't get much sexual education so porn is 2 things: arousing and informative.

    I wish porn would also show more girls getting eaten out! It's all about the blow job and that's not fair. Also more hot dudes (and I want to see his face, goddamnit, not just the chick w/ too much makeup on lol).

    "But guys don't dig that!" I can hear the porn industry saying. Well a good amount of chicks do. So start making porn for more for both genders! Straight, gay, lesbian, whatever. fuuccckkk.

  • nikita

    oh and btw, my boyfriend told me he doesn't think facials in porn are hot. still not sure if he just said that cause he thought i'd get all dworkin on him or what though haha...he does like my ass to suffocate his face though. don't see why that is any less "degrading" then him cumming on my face...

  • BlaqueIce

    I never understood if feminism meant falling in line with women who are empowered by publicly going against the mainstream or personally being empowered by taking a stand for THEMSELVES. Too often feminists downplay those who don’t follow there rhetoric as being patriarchal, non feminist or (my personal favorite) "brainwashed." What could be more feminine than a woman declaring her own desires, including facials, as a priority versus sexualist politics?

    I once watched a show on cable that talked about porn. One take away that I got was when a very powerful woman in the porn industry stated that regardless off the freak, there is someone out there who gets off on it and a porn flick that is suited for that freak. That being the case why is it expected that facials are misogynistic/degrading/or disrespectful. It might be better to say that some are feminists (one group), with man issues (another group) who have sexual hang ups (yet another group) and an issue with sexual fluids (still another group of many not mentioned).

    Feminists, in my experience, are much like any other group: Some have sexual hang ups that have been perpetuated by mothers, and other females of authority, and family. Too often they cry that there are double standards "Men can sleep with X number of girls or do X act and he is a hero, but if a girl sleeps with X number or enjoys X act she is a slut or a hoe!" You complain about this while simultaneously telling your daughters, nieces, friends and students that "nice girls don’t..." Want equality? Start a dialogue that allows women to enjoy sex. As long as she is safe, with her husband, or a stranger but consenting, whatever...She is ALLOWED to enjoy herself. If she is feeling subjugated or disrespected, or demeaned, I ask in front of whom? Is she performing exhibitionism as well? No woman has to do anything she doesn't want to do. That SHOULD be feminism. No woman should be DISALLOWED to perform in a matter she finds pleasurable-EVEN if the feminist have a problem with her. THAT'S Feminism. Or is that Individualism which we should all subscribe to. But that’s a different argument.

    Just my $0.02.

  • Danny

    I wish porn would also show more girls getting eaten out! It’s all about the blow job and that’s not fair. Also more hot dudes (and I want to see his face, goddamnit, not just the chick w/ too much makeup on lol).
    I don't want to speak on how much porn you've seen but I've been watching the stuff since late high school (a little over 10 years) and the vast majority of what I've seen includes oral sex on women. Perhaps you're talking about performing oral sex on women until they climax? If that's the case then I'm with you all the way. And I have to say I would not be upset with having better looking guys in porn.

  • Sea Man

    Gayle sounds so hot... I would totally blow my load on her face. If she let me of course!

  • Pingback: Exploring anarcha-feminism: liberty, morality, and economics in the sex industry « Property is Theft!

  • Father Wank

    Facials are the closest thing to a spiritual baptism. The man's holy seed, the creative life juice that brings forth a new baby, is instead deposited on a upturned and appreciative face. It's the equivalent to worshipping God and being baptised. The most sacred and holy act.