Episode 161: Performative Sex and the Psychology of ‘Facials’

January 24, 2023 by Emily Mendelson

Sex and Psychology Podcast
Sex and Psychology Podcast
Episode 161: Performative Sex and the Psychology of 'Facials'

One of the most popular articles on the Sex and Psychology blog is about the psychology of facials, a sexual act in which one person ejaculates on another person’s face. This behavior is one of many kinds of performative sexuality often seen in porn. Facials in particular have sparked a lot of debate because some people see this behavior as inherently degrading, especially when a woman is on the receiving end of it. So in today’s episode, we’re going to dive into the psychology of facials and performative sexuality more broadly. In addition, we’ll explore how performative sex intersects with porn, sexual self-esteem, and pleasure, as well as what to do when you feel constrained by performative expectations in the bedroom.

I am joined once again by Dr. Megan Maas, an assistant professor in Human Development & Family Studies at Michigan State University. Her award-winning research, recognized by the American Psychological Association, and funded by the National Institute of Health, focuses on media impacts on adolescents’ sexual and mental health. Some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How is sexual self-confidence related to both giving and receiving facials?
  • How is porn shaping the way people approach sex?
  • When and why did facials become so popular?
  • How does being in an altered state (such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol) relate to performative sex?
  • What is the link between prior experience with sexual victimization and performative sex?
  • How can you break free of expectations about performative sex if they’re interfering with your pleasure?

Be sure to check out Megan’s website to learn more about her, and follow her on Twitter @MeganKMaas.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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