The invention of the X job

(Sex acts up the wazoo, so very much not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Passed on by Gregory Ward, this entertaining Onion video “This Day In History: The Invention Of The Handjob”, in which

Handjob inventor Fred Gilgoff describes the inspiration for the two-person masturbation technique [invented this day 60 years ago].

The conceit is that the hand job technque was devised, much in the way that the Heimlich maneuvre was devised, and that before Gilgoff’s great discovery, people had no effective technique for manually getting one another off. (According to the video, the hand job breakthrough was followed by a string of others: the blow job, the rim job, and fisting.)

Well, this is the Onion, so it’s all made up, and it’s preposterous to think that hand jobs and blow jobs have only recently become sexual pleasures; the evidence of art going back to ancient times, in a number of parts of the world, tells us that these two acts (and ass-fucking) go back a long way, no doubt to prehistoric times.

But to talk seriously about these things: the occurrence of sexual acts (like other sociocultural practices) clearly varies in different social groups, at different times and places, and particular acts (like rimming or fisting or urethral sounding) or variants of these acts (like deep-throating in blow jobs, or particular positions for fucking) might be socioculturally quite restricted. Vaginal intercourse is of course a cultural universal — which doesn’t mean that everyone engages in it, in the same way — and same-sex sexual practices, self-masturbation, other-masturbation, sexual kisses, and oral sex are all widespread and can be seen as just items in a big package of sexual practices that have been generally available to people, forever, though not necessarily deployed in all sociocultural contexts, and certainly not in the same way or with the same social import.

That’s all about acts. Then there are linguistic expressions, and here the Onion‘s timeline actually corresponds pretty well to the appearance of the relevant instances of the X job sexual snowclonelet. From my 9/28/13 posting “X job”:

The [sexual X job] compounds are not venerable; they go back only to the middle of the 20th century.

The first OED cites reported there: hand job 1939, blow job 1961, rim job 1969 (with a variant ream job). (That is, roughly 60 yeas ago today.) Now of course, there was a rich collection of vocabulary (ranging from grossly crude to cautiously euphemistic) for talking about these practices before these particular expressions came into vogue. And, more important, a stunning amount of negotiation for sex is managed entirely non-verbally, or by incredibly vague circumlocutions (Wanna play?, Need some company?, Want a buddy to hang out with, etc.). You could, in fact, lead a long, rich sexual life without putting any names at all to what you do. (I’ve remarked several times that even in locations devoted to man-man sex, like the gay baths, a great many men insist that all negotiation over desire and willingness be carried out non-verbally; they might have very specific aims but won’t put them into words (not even a curt Suck my cock!); and they will reject any prospective partner who wants to talk about these matters.)

So: you don’t have to know the words, or (even if you know them) use them, or (even if you use words for talking about the sex) use the X job compounds specifically. You can still give or get hand jobs and blow jobs. Maybe rim jobs too, but sexual ass-licking (though no doubt venerable) seems to be a relatively recent fashion, especially driven by the practices of American gay men from (roughly) the 1940s on, and then canonized in American gay porn, where rimming has been a standard feature of sexual encounters on film at least since the 1970s. (Actual practice is extremely hard to gauge, and the records of lexical usage are very imperfect guides; for what it’s worth, GDoS‘s first cite for anal-sexual rim is from 1949.)

Digression on acts: hand job, rub job, blow job. From a posting earlier today on AZBlogX, on “Hand jobs”:

Hand jobs and frottage (aka rubbing) are the non-penetrative forms of mansex and, as such, are often discounted — treated as mere accompaniments to other sexual acts (it’s common to jack off a guy you’re fucking, for example, but the fucking is the main event; and in group sex in gay porn, a cocksucker will often work a cock in one or both hands, but the blow job is the main event) or foreplay to penetrative sex (rubbing is a common lead-in to fucking, hand jobs to blow jobs and possibly on from there to fucking). There’s an attitude that if nobody takes a dick into his body, it’s not really sex — an attitude that, on the plus side, makes hand jobs and rubbing more acceptable as buddy play (or bro-play), something straight guys could easily get into — just helpin’ my horny buddy out, helpin’ him to get of — without veering into fag territory.

Whether you identify as straight or gay, you can give or get a hand job for its own sake; it’s friendly sex, literally non-invasive, and safe sex (but it is sex, since shooting your load or his is the goal), and it’s easily combined with other kinds of body play, especially kissing. Iif you’re frankly gay, it can be the vehicle for affection, love, and romance. It can be configured as one guy serving another guy’s cock (for pleasure on both sides) or as a mutual exchange (easier to manage than 69ing, because there’s less sense of divided attention: mutual hand jobs are just like jacking yourself off — you use your hand to stroke, you get the pleasurable sensations of being stroked — with the bonus that you get another guy’s body to appreciate).

It’s usually said that to give a really satisying hand job, you should watch how your guy jacks himself off; if you can reproduce his style, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to be doing a good hand job. But his style is whatever he chanced on because it once worked for him as boy, so it’s familiar, but that was years ago, and he might now appreciate novelty instead of familiarity. Guys differ in these things: some need the familiar routine, but others can be pleasantly surprised. Stimulating the glans and frenulum provides the most intense sensations; but fisting the shaft can give a man the feeling of raw power; playing with his balls or asshole can magnify the experience; and there are several satisfying options for moving hand on dick (with two fingers vs. whole fist; up and down vs. rotary; etc.).

At this point, there’s a small terminological issue: how to refer to the participants in a hand job, a guy who jacks another guy off and a guy who gets jacked off by another guy. Jack-off, jerk-off, jerker, wanker, masturbator, etc. all refer to the agent role in masturbation, but don’t distinguish masturbaing oneself from masturbating someone else; and there are no standard terms for the patient role in other-masturbation (though the clunky neologism masturbatee would  serve in a pinch.) Handjobber (with the agent suffix -er) would work as a less clunky neologism for someone in the agent role, and I guess that leaves us with handjobbed or handjobbee for someone in the patient role (English is not rich in lexical items referring to the patient in an two-person act). The crucial fact here is that in a mansex hand job, one guy supplies (metonymically is) the hand, and one guy supplies (metonymically is) the dick — so that when the context is guys and handjobs, the compounds handman and dickman will do just fine.

Images of hand jobs for their own sake have not been common on my blogs, so I then supply five moving shots of hand jobs from gay porn (including mutual masturbation and a hand job in public), plus two Joe Phillips illustrations from The Joy of Gay Sex (showing affectionate mutual masturbation and fucking with a hand job as an extra), and a shot from gay porn showing hand jobs as an extra in a blow job. To these I can add this cover of a book of advice about the art of the hand job (from an Indian book-seller, no date given), directed at women but of course also applicable to men:


Discussions and images of frottage, or body-rubbing, are even sparser in writing about mansex, including on my blogs, than similar material about hand jobs. I’ve now provided an AZBlogX posting  “Rub jobs”, with shots of mansex frottage; notes on frot, pectoral intercourse, and slot rubs (the sexual practices and the labels); and notes on labels for participants in these acts.

The four types of mansex involving penises are, in order of ascending potency: rub jobs, hand jobs, blow jobs, and fucking. Rub jobs don’t get a lot of press, and the acts themselves are largely private and uncelebrated; so far as I know, there are no frottage clubs, parallel to the now-widespread jack-off clubs, where men go to jack themselves off in the company of other men similarly inclined and to jack off other men or get jacked off by them.

But rub jobs haven’t gone completely unnoticed on this blog. From an 8/25/14 posting “Cowboy Rub”, on a product of the McCormick spice company:

Not in the OED are sexual senses of the noun [rub], though it has some sexual uses of the verb, in particular the slang intransitive rub ‘to masturbate’ (Farmer & Henley’s slang dictionary in 1903) and phrasal rub up transitive ‘to touch or caress (a person, a part of the body) in order to excite sexually (from 1656) and transitive ‘to masturbate; (also) to rub oneself on a person or thing in a sexually arousing manner’ (Farmer & Henley).

But there’s more, not in the OED. There’s also the transitive verb in rub someone off ‘masturbate someone’ and the plain verb rub (transitive or intransitive) referring to masturbation or frottage. And then the related noun rub ‘act of masturbation or frottage’, notably in the compound Princeton rub (in various slang dictionaries), referring to male-male frottage, especially genital-genital rubbing or intercrural frottage (between the legs) (from lore about sex at Princeton before the days of coeducation).

And (from Urban Dictionary), various uses of dry rub for sex without lubrication, including the Youngstown dry rub ‘intergluteal frottage’ (between the buttocks) (a claimed allusion to practices at Youngstown State Penitentiary in Ohio) and the Alabama dry rub ‘anal sex without lubrication’ (source unclear). More sexual senses of dry rub below.

… Cowboy Rub [has] its (intended) interpretation as something like ‘a rub of the sort that cowboys use on meat’. The ingredients and uses, from McCormick:

Cowboy Rub is a robust blend with coarsely ground peppers, mustard seed and coffee which gives meat a bold and flavorful crust that seals in natural juices.

Rub generously on meat before grilling (1 to 2 tablespoons per 1 pound). Great on steak, chicken, pork or ribs.

Of course, cowboy rub could also be a (sexual) act noun, referring to masturbation or frottage the way cowboys do it, or the way it’s done on cowboys. Hence the chuckles.

And on the coinage frot, for one type of rub job, from Wikipedia:

Frot (slang for frottage; ult. from the French verb frotter, “to rub”) is a non-penetrative form of male-male sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact. The term was popularized by gay male activists [in the 1990s] who disparaged the practice of anal sex, but has since evolved to encompass a variety of preferences for the act, which may or may not imply particular attitudes towards other sexual activities. Owing to its non-penetrative character, frot has the safe sex advantage of minimizing the transmission risk for HIV/AIDS

From rub jobs and hand jobs, we get into the big time (penetrative sex) with blow jobs. AZBlogX postings have many dozens of images of cocksucking, which some time ago became America’s great contribution to the culture of mansex: in the U.S., pretty much every gay man, whatever else he might or might not do, sucks cock, and in American gay porn, everybody sucks cock. A lot. American queers got a reputation as passionate, and adept, cocksuckers, and our enthusiasm spread around the world.

Nothing to add on blow jobs here, beyond this piece of symbolic signage:


For a blow job, inquire within — meaning either ‘to get a blow job’ (guy in blue) or ‘to give a blow job’ (guy in white). (Or you could go to Blow Buddies in San Francisco, a private club that offers facilities for all manner of safer mansex, but especially blow jobs.)

(There are variants of the sign in which the cocksucker is clearly female, with a pigtail or breasts or both.)

To recap, we now have rub jobs plus the three first items in the Onion‘s faux-news story (d’ya remember the Onion?): hand jobs, blow jobs, and rim jobs.

Back to acts and terms: fisting. The Onion‘s next and last sexual practice was fisting, which is very much a minority taste. From the entries in GDoS for the nouns fist-fuckfist-fucking, and fisting:

fist-fuck 1 the insertion of the hand (and forearm) into the vagina or anus [first cite 1972 Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular, which means that it’s attested before 1972]

fist-fucking 2 (gay) the insertion of the hand (and sometimes forearm) into the anus of one’s partner for purposes of sexual stimulation (popular in the 1970s but latterly in decline through fears of injury and hence the possibility of spreading AIDS: also found in heterosexual and lesbian sex, where the orifice is the vagina.) [first cite 1977 in an article “Sexual Anarchy” in the magazine Blue Boy]

fisting [first cite 1994 Gary Indana Rent Boy]

Plus the verb

fist-fuck (also fist) 1 (gay) to insert one’s hand (and forearm) into someone’s anus or vagina [first cite 1978 Larry Kramer Faggots]

GDoS has no cites for fist job, though the compound would be relatively transparent and perhaps useful to those who engage in the practice.

On the practice, from Wikipedia:

Fisting, handballing, fist-fucking, brachiovaginal, or brachioproctic insertion is a sexual activity that involves inserting a hand into the vagina or rectum. Once insertion is complete, the fingers are either clenched into a fist or kept straight.

… Fisting’s emergence as a popular sexual practice is commonly attributed to gay male culture, with the additional sentiment that it may not have existed until the twentieth century. … The most famous fisting club in the world was the Catacombs, located in San Francisco, which operated during the 1970s and 1980s. The Handball Express was another such club. Crisco was commonly used as a lubricant, before more specialized personal lubricants became available.

(Once again there’s a small terminological problem in naming the participants. The agent, the person who uses their fist in the act, would of course be the fister, so I suppose that a man who provides his asshole for the act would be the fistee, but the term sounds stylistically discordant to me: the verb fist is slang, the patient suffix -ee rather elevated or technical.)

As for the practice, it requires great trust on the part of the fistee and great care and sensitivity on the part of the fister. It’s an phenomenally intimate sort of encounter, providing the fistee with an extraordinary sense of being filled up (well beyond that in everyday ass-fucking, and probably beyond that provided by all except the very largest of sex toys), perhaps also with the pleasures of submission. (I have not engaged in the practice in either role, nor do I find it alluring, but I have friends who have given and gotten fist jobs, and they speak fervently about their experiences.)

Some will no doubt feel that when he invented fisting, Fred Gilgoff had definitely gone too far.

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