Sunday, 21 June 2020

The Halacha of looking at or kissing “oso makom”

by (See all authors)

As I mentioned in my kuntress, there are opinions that maintain that there is no prohibition whatsoever for a man to look at or kiss his wife’s “oso makom”. Accordingly, I wrote in the kuntress that although it would seem that the majority of Achronim adopt the opinion that forbid’s a man from gazing upon or kissing his wife’s “oso makom”, and therefore a man really ought to avoid doing it; nevertheless, if a man decides to rely on the lenient opinion, there is no reason for his wife to worry about it since, after all, he does have a valid opinion upon whom to rely. Furthermore, I heard from at least one Rav, whom I consider reliable, that Rav Elyashiv zt”l held that according to the strict letter of the law, the halacha is in accordance with the lenient opinion, albeit even that opinion would agree that it is a highly discouraged act and should only be done if there is a real need for it. There is also a certain talmid chacham who claimed that Rav Shach also said that the final, definitive halacha is in accordance with the lenient opinion. However, that talmid chacham told me that he heard it from a friend of his who heard it from the Rav who heard it from Rav Shach. I tried reaching out to that Rav but it turned out that he is an exceedingly busy person and it is very difficult to get in touch with him.

In any event, the lenient opinion does exist, so, as I wrote, if a man decides to rely on that opinion, although he may be doing something that is discouraged, one cannot say that he is doing an aveirah since he has that lenient upon to rely upon (of course, if the wife does not want him to do it because she just does not like it, that would be a completely different story).

So, in a nutshell, if a woman doesn’t feel any particular desire for her husband to look at or kiss her clitoral area, but she also does not mind if he does, then she doesn’t need to worry about the issue at all. It is her husband’s issue, not hers.

But what about a situation wherein the wife does specifically want her husband to orally stimulate her clitoris and/or the surrounding area? My personal take on this matter is that if she feels that it is a real need, then she should indeed try to get her husband to do it. However, she does need to realize that, just as a husband must not force his wife to do anything she does not feel comfortable with, if her husband does not feel comfortable with it, then she may have no choice but to make do without this need being fulfilled.

However, if the woman does not feel that oral stimulation to her clitoris (and/or the surrounding area) is a real need, but more like an “extra”, meaning, she would enjoy it, but she can do without it, then my personal feeling is that it would be best to just do without it. In addition to the halachic considerations (the opinion that forbids it and/or the opinion that highly discourages it), my reasoning for this is actually mostly pragmatic.

The Gemara that I quoted in the kuntress about Rav Chisda teaching his daughters shows us this pragmatism. He held a piece of coal in his hand, keeping it hidden from his daughters to the point where they were plotzing to see what is inside his hand. Imagine their surprise and disappointment when they saw that all it was, was a dusty piece of black coal! The point of this exercise, the mefarshim explain, was to show his daughters how something which is not really all that attractive can be made exceedingly “attractive” by keeping it hidden. And, specifically, he was trying to teach them that the oso-makom (which is covered by black hair and is thus similar to the black piece of coal) is made exceedingly desirable to the husband the more she keeps it hidden from him. As one adam gadol put it, “a scantily dressed woman is usually far more attractive to a man than a completely naked woman”.

It seems that many women have a difficult time understanding how the male brain works in this regard. Much of the sexual stimulation that men experience works through the koach-ha’dimyon. Or, putting it in English terminology, through the “tease” effect.

That same adam gadol pointed out that whereas women are primarily stimulated through the sense of touch, men are primarily stimulated through the sense of sight. So, going with that paradigm, it might be helpful to explain the matter to women in this way:

What is more stimulating, if the husband were to gently grab the entire breast, or if he ever so slightly rubs the edge of his finger across the edge of the breast where it meets the side? No, this is not to say that at no point will a woman want her husband to grab her entire breast (after the stimulation), but it does point out something about sexual arousal, and that is the “tease effect”. In any event, whether or not the “tease effect” holds true for stimulating touch vis a vis women, it definitely seems to hold true for most men vis a vis visual stimulation. So when a woman keeps her oso-makom covered and out of sight, it is likely to be far more effective in achieving arousal in her husband than if she completely reveals it to him.

Putting it bluntly, in the aggregate it would not be helpful for a woman if her husband were to get turned off by seeing what her private area actually looks like. Furthermore, for many women (perhaps most) the oso-makom has a not-so-pleasant smell.

So, to sum up, from a completely pragmatic point of view, it’s worthwhile for a woman to be aware of the fact that it is not necessarily to her ultimate benefit for her husband to be gazing at or kissing her oso-makom (or the general area).

Is this true for all women? Perhaps not. There may be some women whose completely uncovered oso-makom is very attractive looking (whether naturally or because they do beauty treatments). And there may also be some men who get really turned on by seeing it completely uncovered. But, in general, my sense is that the possibility of a man getting somewhat disappointed by what he sees/smells is probably the reality for most couples.

Of course, couples can and should make their own decisions regarding how they go about intimacy, and everything I wrote is simply information that I believe is worthwhile for people to be aware of when weighing their decisions about how they will go about things.

Mechaber Kuntreisim