This story appears in the May 2016 issue of Playboy. Subscribe

Last night at a party I found myself arguing with two of my women friends about cunnilingus. After I modestly talked up my skills, one of them said, “I can take or leave oral sex. I bet your girlfriend fakes it.” The other laughed and said she’d had an orgasm that way only once—and mostly because of the MDMA she was on, not her partner’s performance. As if this weren’t emasculating enough, a third girl cut in with, “I’ve never had an orgasm from oral, and God knows it’s not from lack of trying—all those poor men trapped under the duvet, licking for 40 minutes. You almost have to fake it to give them a break.” I really want to please women, but I feel less sure than ever about how to go about this.

Like fingerprints, like snowflakes, like women themselves, every orgasm is different. If your question is whether there are women who enjoy cunnilingus, allow me to answer with a resounding yes—yes, ooh fuck, yes.

Being able to give good head is a worthwhile life skill. And while good oral sex doesn’t always end in orgasm, every man should make it a goal—an item on his sexual bucket list—to plant his face between a woman’s legs and not stop working until she’s convulsing in pleasure. It’s not an easy place to get to, but anything of value comes at a price—and in this case you have to pay with your precious time. And since you surveyed your female friends on the topic, I decided to poll mine. “It’s not that I could take or leave oral sex during a routine hookup. Not at all,” said Erica. “It’s just that token dives are dumb. That thing where they sort of skim the pussy as if sipping the foam from a cappuccino—I mean, how would you feel if my mouth did a drive-by on your dick?” Sex researchers found that the popularity of blow jobs peaked and then leveled in the 1960s and 1970s, but the act of giving a woman head has taken decades to rise. “Rappers make mixtapes about it; bros brag about it,” said another friend. “But somehow, going down on a woman isn’t entirely about female desire—it’s more about male bravado.”

Mutual enjoyment is half of good sex. The other half is skill. There’s plenty of e-literature to guide you toward creating deep vulvar attunement; treat it like homework. Memorize the steps about easing the tongue onto her clit. Learn how to tease with vertical and horizontal strokes. Try making those silly alphabet shapes with your tongue. Do that intense sucking motion. Trail a finger behind the tongue as you work into a reliable rhythm, adding pressure, pressing two fingers inside with a curling motion as you make butterfly tongue strokes, remembering to keep her legs slightly together so her pelvic muscles can spasm as you maintain the position.

And lest you forget these nuances and panic, lost in a wilderness of minora and majora, relax. The whole experience is supposed to feel languorous, vacationlike: Rise late, proceed at a slow pace. Read the signs, ask for directions.

And maybe the next time you hear women at a party talking about oral sex, they’ll be declaring how they used to be able to take it or leave it—until this guy last night.

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