Facial (sexual act)

Last updated

An illustration of a man ejaculating onto a woman's face Wiki-facial.png
An illustration of a man ejaculating onto a woman's face

A facial is a sexual activity in which a man ejaculates semen onto the face of one or more sexual partners. [1] A facial is a form of non-penetrative sex, though it is generally performed after some other means of sexual stimulation, such as vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex or masturbation. Facials are currently regularly portrayed in pornographic films and videos, often as a way to close a scene. [2]


The performance of a facial is typically preceded by activities that result in the sexual arousal and stimulation of the ejaculating participant. After the prerequisite level of sexual stimulation has been achieved, and ejaculation becomes imminent, the male will position his penis so that the semen discharged will be deposited onto his partner's face.

The volume of semen that is ejaculated depends on several factors, including the male's health, age, degree of sexual excitement, and the time since his last ejaculation. [3] Normal quantities of ejaculate range from 1.5 to 5.0 milliliters (1 teaspoon). Seconds after being deposited onto the face, the semen thickens, before liquefying 15–30 minutes later. [4]

Health risks

Transmission of disease

Any sexual activity that involves contact with the bodily fluids of another person contains the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). [5] Semen is in itself generally harmless on the skin or if swallowed. [6] [7] However, semen can be the vehicle for many sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and hepatitis. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration categorizes semen as "other potentially infectious material" or OPIM. [8]

The risks incurred by the giving and receiving partner during the facial sexual act are drastically different. For the ejaculating partner there is almost no risk of contracting an STI. For the receiving partner, the risk is higher. [9] Since potentially infected semen could come into contact with broken skin or sensitive mucous membranes (eyes, lips, mouth), there is a risk of contracting an infectious disease.

Allergic reactions

In rare cases, people have been known to experience allergic reactions to seminal fluids, known as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity. [10] Symptoms can be either localized or systemic, and may include itching, redness, swelling, or blisters within 30 minutes of contact. They may also include hives and even difficulty breathing.

Treatment options for semen allergy include avoiding exposure to seminal fluid by use of condoms and attempting desensitization. [11]

Cultural depictions

Predating the modern age of pornography, facials were described in literature. As an example, the French aristocrat Marquis de Sade wrote about performing facials in his work The 120 Days of Sodom , written in 1785. One passage of the novel reads "… I show them my prick, then what do you suppose I do? I squirt the fuck in their face… That's my passion my child, I have no other… and you're about to behold it." [12]

In pornography

In the 1970s, the hardcore pornography genre introduced the stereotypical cumshot (also known as the money shot) scene as a central element (leitmotif) of the hardcore film, in which the male actor ejaculates in a way ensuring maximum visibility of the act itself. [13] These scenes may involve the female actor "calling for" the shot to be directed at some specific part of her body. [14] Now facial cumshots are regularly portrayed in pornographic films, videos, magazines and internet web sites. [2]

In addition to mainstream pornography, the popularity of facials has led to creation of its own niche market, [15] like video series that specialize in showing the act. Psychologist Ana Bridges and colleagues conducted a content analysis of best-selling heterosexual pornographic videos showing that over 96% of all scenes concluded with a male performer ejaculating onto the body of his female partner. [16] The mouth was the most common area to be ejaculated upon. When all regions of the face are included, facial cum shots comprise approximately 62% of scenes where external ejaculation occurs. [17]

Criticisms and responses


There are a variety of views ranging from facials being an act of degradation and elicit humiliation to being grounded in mutual respect and elicit pleasure. [18] Sex therapist Ruth Westheimer believes facials are humiliating and not sexy. She advises the average person contemplating oral sex to not think that a facial is a necessary part of the act. [1] In response to an inquiry from a reader, sex columnist Dan Savage wrote: "Facials are degrading—and that's why they're so hot." [19] Daily Nexus columnist Nina Love Anthony views the practice of facials in a non-threatening light, feeling that it adds variety to the sexual experience. In one of her weekly articles she wrote "But let's give credit where credit is due: The money shot, by itself, is great for a number of reasons. Blowing it on someone's face is like a change-up pitch – if you've been throwing the heat for a while, maybe you should consider hooking the curve ball." She continues with "Also, being on the receiving end of the shot can satisfy the secret porn star in everyone and it's minor kink for beginners". [20]

A woman receiving a facial Semfac01.png
A woman receiving a facial

Feminist views of the depiction of male-on-female facials are primarily critical. Sociologists Gail Dines, Robert Jensen and Russo echo these sentiments in the book Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality. It asserts "In pornography, ejaculating onto a woman is a primary method by which she is turned into a slut, something (not really someone) whose primary, if not only, purpose is to be sexual with men." [21] Radical feminist and noted critic of pornography Andrea Dworkin said "it is a convention of pornography that the sperm is on her not in her. It marks the spot, what he owns and how he owns it. The ejaculation on her is a way of saying (through showing) that she is contaminated with his dirt; that she is dirty." [9]

In Padraig McGrath's review of Laurence O'Toole's book Pornocopia – Porn, Sex, Technology and Desire, he rhetorically asks whether "…women enjoy having men ejaculate on their faces?" He suggests that the role of such a scene is to illustrate that "…it doesn’t matter what the woman likes – she’ll like whatever the man wants her to like because she has no inner life of her own, in turn because she’s not a real person". McGrath argues that there is a "power-aspect" to depictions such as cum shots. He suggests that the "…central theme [of pornography] is power…[,] implicitly violent… eroticized hatred." [22]

Gail Dines, writing in Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, describes the money shot of a man ejaculating on the face or body of a woman as "one of the most degrading acts in porn". [23] To Dines, the ejaculate on the female performer's body "marks the woman as used goods", conveying a sense of ownership, and she quotes veteran porn actor and producer Bill Margold as saying, "I'd like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we serve a purpose by showing that. The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. Men get off behind that because they get even with the women they can't have." [23] She adds that at least for some posters on adult forums discussing such scenes, the pleasure is derived from watching a woman suffer. [23] However Dines also describes that "when you speak to pornographers, they tend themselves not to know" the origins of these sorts of things. [24]

Another critic of "cum shot" scenes in heterosexual pornography is the US pornography actress-turned writer, director and producer Candida Royalle. She produced pornography films aimed at women and their partners that avoid the "misogynous predictability" and depiction of sex in "…as grotesque and graphic [a way] as possible." Royalle also criticizes the male-centredness of the typical pornography film, in which scenes end when the male actor ejaculates. [25]


Illustration of an oral cum shot, in which a man ejaculates onto a woman's tongue Wiki-cumshot.png
Illustration of an oral cum shot, in which a man ejaculates onto a woman's tongue

Author Lisa Moore suggests that Dworkin's explanation does not take into account that it is the pleasure the actresses exhibit that the male partners enjoy, and that it is more accurate to think men want their semen to be wanted. [9] Correspondingly it used to be a porn industry standard for the actress to act eager and loving for the facial she receives, and not in displeasure. If displeasure was shown it was usually considered a failed shot. [26]

Women's activist Beatrice Faust argued, "since ejaculating into blank space is not much fun, ejaculating over a person who responds with enjoyment sustains a lighthearted mood as well as a degree of realism." She goes on to say "Logically, if sex is natural and wholesome and semen is as healthy as sweat, there is no reason to interpret ejaculation as a hostile gesture." [27] [28] Joseph Slade, professor at Ohio University, [29] notes in his book Pornography and sexual representation: a reference guide that adult industry actresses in the 1960s and 1970s did not trust birth control methods, and that more than one actress of the period told him that ejaculation inside her body was deemed inconsiderate if not rude. [28]

Sexologist Peter Sándor Gardos argues that his research suggests that "… the men who get most turned on by watching cum shots are the ones who have positive attitudes toward women" (on the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex in 1992). [30] Later, on The World Pornography Conference in 1998, he reported a similar conclusion, namely that "no pornographic image is interpretable outside of its historical and social context. Harm or degradation does not reside in the image itself". [31]

Cindy Patton, activist and scholar on human sexuality, claims that in western culture male sexual fulfillment is synonymous with orgasm and that the male orgasm is an essential punctuation of the sexual narrative. No orgasm, no sexual pleasure. No cum shot, no narrative closure. In other words, the cum shot is the period at the end of the sentence. [9] In her essay "Speaking Out: Teaching In", Patton reached the conclusion that critics have devoted too little space to discovering the meaning that viewers attach to specific acts such as cum shots. [28] [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

Fellatio Oral sex on the penis by a sexual partner

Fellatio is an oral sex act involving the use of the mouth or throat performed by a person on the penis of another person. Oral stimulation of the scrotum may also be termed fellatio, or colloquially as teabagging. If fellatio is performed on oneself, the act is called autofellatio.

Female ejaculation Expulsion of fluid during or before an orgasm

Female ejaculation is characterized as an expulsion of fluid from or near the vagina during or before an orgasm. It is also known colloquially as squirting or gushing, although these are considered to be different phenomena in some research publications. Female ejaculation is physiologically distinct from coital incontinence, with which it is sometimes confused.

Bukkake Sex act and pornography genre

Bukkake is a sex act in which one participant is ejaculated on by two or more other participants. It is often portrayed in pornographic films.

Coitus reservatus, also known as sexual continence, is a form of sexual intercourse in which the penetrative partner does not attempt to ejaculate within the receptive partner, but instead attempts to remain at the plateau phase of intercourse for as long as possible, avoiding the seminal emission. It is distinct from death grip syndrome wherein the male has no volition in his emissionless state.

<i>Behind the Green Door</i> 1972 film by Mitchell brothers

Behind the Green Door is a 1972 American feature-length pornographic film, widely considered one of the genre's "classic" pictures and one of the films that ushered in The Golden Age of Porn (1969–1984). Featuring Marilyn Chambers, who became a mainstream celebrity, it was one of the first hardcore films widely released in the United States and the first feature-length film directed by the Mitchell brothers. It was adapted from an anonymous short story of the same title, which was circulated by means of numerous carbon copies. The story's title makes reference to the 1956 hit song "Green Door". Though the main focus of the film, Chambers does not have a single word of dialogue in the entire film. The film is possibly the first U.S. feature-length heterosexual hardcore film to include an interracial sex scene.

Cum shot Depiction of human ejaculation

A cum shot is the depiction of human ejaculation, especially onto another person. The term cum shot is usually applied to depictions occurring in pornographic films, photographs, and magazines. Cum shots have become the object of fetish genres like bukkake. Facial cum shots are currently regularly portrayed in pornographic films and videos, often as a way to close a scene. Cum shots may also depict ejaculation onto another performer's body, such as on the genitals, buttocks, chest or tongue.

Ejaculatory duct

The ejaculatory ducts are paired structures in male anatomy. Each ejaculatory duct is formed by the union of the vas deferens with the duct of the seminal vesicle. They pass through the prostate, and open into the urethra at the seminal colliculus. During ejaculation, semen passes through the prostate gland, enters the urethra and exits the body via the urinary meatus.

A gang bang is a situation in which several people, usually more than three, engage in physical sexual activity with one specific person sequentially or at the same time. That specific person is the central focus of the sexual activity; for example, it could be one woman surrounded by several men, or a man with multiple women. The term has become associated with the porn industry and usually describes a staged event whereby a woman has sex with several men in direct succession; it is a consensual performance and not to be confused with gang rape. Bukkake is a type of gang bang originating in Japan that focuses on the male participants ejaculating in quick succession onto the central person.

A money shot is a moving or stationary visual element of a film, video, television broadcast, or print publication that is disproportionately expensive to produce or is perceived as essential to the overall importance or revenue-generating potential of the work.

Salirophilia sexual fetish or paraphilia that involves deriving erotic pleasure from soiling or disheveling the object of ones desire

Salirophilia is a sexual fetish or paraphilia that involves deriving erotic pleasure from soiling or disheveling the object of one's desire, usually an attractive person. It may involve tearing or damaging their clothing, covering them in mud or filth, or messing their hair or makeup. The fetish does not involve harming or injuring the subject, only their appearance.

Masturbation Sexual stimulation of ones own genitals

Masturbation is the sexual stimulation of one's own genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys such as vibrators, or combinations of these. Mutual masturbation is masturbation with a sexual partner, and may include manual stimulation of a partner's genitals, or be used as a form of non-penetrative sex.

Pegging (sexual practice) Sexual practice in which a woman uses a strap-on dildo to perform anal sex on a man

Pegging is a sexual practice in which a woman performs anal sex on a man by penetrating his anus with a strap-on dildo. This practice may also involve stimulating the male genitalia.

Pornographic film actor Performer of sex acts in pornographic films

A pornographic film actor or actress, adult entertainer, or porn star is a person who performs sex acts in video that is usually characterized as a pornographic movie. Such videos tend to be made in a number of distinct pornographic subgenres and attempt to present a sexual fantasy and the actors selected for a particular role are primarily selected on their ability to create or fit that fantasy. Pornographic videos are characterized as either "softcore", which does not contain depictions of sexual penetration or "extreme fetishism" and "hardcore", which can contain depictions of penetration or extreme fetishism, or both. The genres and sexual intensity of videos is mainly determined by demand. Depending on the genre of the film, the on-screen appearance, age, and physical features of the main actors and their ability to create the sexual mood of the video is of critical importance. Most actors specialize in certain genres, such as gay sex, lesbian sex, bondage, strap-on sex, anal sex, double penetration, semen swallowing, teenage women, interracial or MILFs.

In males, ejaculation is the ejection of semen from the reproductory tract.

Semen Organic fluid

Semen, also known as seminal fluid, is an organic fluid created to contain spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals and can fertilize the female ovum. In humans, seminal fluid contains several components besides spermatozoa: proteolytic and other enzymes as well as fructose are elements of seminal fluid which promote the survival of spermatozoa, and provide a medium through which they can move or "swim". Semen is produced and originates from the seminal vesicle, which is located in the pelvis. The process that results in the discharge of semen is called ejaculation. Semen is also a form of genetic material. In animals, semen has been collected for cryoconservation. Cryoconservation of animal genetic resources is a practice that calls for the collection of genetic material in efforts for conservation of a particular breed.

Creampie is a sexual act, commonly featured in pornography, in which a male ejaculates inside his partner's vagina or anus without use of a condom, resulting in visible seeping or dripping of semen from the vagina or anus.

Ejaculation Discharge of semen from the male reproductive tract

Ejaculation is the discharge of semen from the male reproductory tract as a result of an orgasm. It is the final stage and natural objective of male sexual stimulation, and an essential component of natural conception. In rare cases, ejaculation occurs because of prostatic disease. Ejaculation may also occur spontaneously during sleep. Anejaculation is the condition of being unable to ejaculate. Ejaculation is usually very pleasurable for men; dysejaculation is an ejaculation that is painful or uncomfortable. Retrograde ejaculation is the condition where semen travels backwards into the bladder rather than out the urethra.

Postorgasmic illness syndrome is a syndrome in which people have chronic physical and cognitive symptoms immediately following ejaculation in the absence of a local genital reaction. The symptoms last for up to a week. The cause and prevalence are unknown; it is considered a rare disease.

Queer pornography depicts performers with various gender identities and sexual orientations interacting and exploring genres of desire and pleasure in unique ways. These conveyed interactions distinctively seek to challenge the conventional modes of portraying and experiencing sexually explicit content. Scholar Ingrid Ryberg additionally includes two main objectives of queer pornography in her definition as "interrogating and troubling gender and sexual categories and aiming at sexual arousal."

Women's pornography, sometimes referred to as sex-positive pornography, is pornography often produced by women and aimed specifically at the female market – rejecting the view that pornography is only for men.


  1. 1 2 Westheimer, Ruth K.; Lehu, Pierre A. (2006). Sex for Dummies . Wiley. p.  194. ISBN   978-0-470-04523-7.
  2. 1 2 Violet Blue, (Sep 2001) A First Timer's Guide to Watching Porn, "Facial ejaculation (men ejaculating on women's faces) is pretty much a standard."
  3. "Swimming Toward Conception: The Semen Analysis". Focus on Fertility, American Infertility Association and Organon Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008.
  4. Gallup, G. G.; Burch, R. L.; Mitchell, T. J. B. (2006). "Semen displacement as a sperm competition strategy" (PDF). Human Nature. 17 (3): 253–64. doi:10.1007/s12110-006-1008-9. PMID   26181472. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2008.
  5. Taylor, Emma; Sharkey, Lorelei (2006). Em & Lo's Rec Sex: An A-Z Guide to Hooking Up. Chronicle Books. p.  60. ISBN   978-0-8118-5212-8.
  6. Mann, Thaddeus (1981) [1981]. Male Reproductive Function and Semen. Springer. ISBN   978-0-387-10383-9.
  7. Scheit, Karl H. (1990) [1990]. Proteins of Seminal Plasma. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-471-84685-7.
  8. "Cal/OSHA Health Hazards in the Adult Film Industry". State of California. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Moore, LJ (2007). Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid. New York University Press. pp.  &#91, https://books.google.com/books?id=tpiyGxq92RwC&pg=PA84 84&#93, . ISBN   978-0-8147-5718-5.
  10. Guillet G, Dagregorio G, Guillet M (2005). "[Vulvar contact dermatitis due to seminal allergy: 3 cases]". Ann Dermatol Venereol. 132 (2): 123–5. doi:10.1016/S0151-9638(05)79221-8. PMID   15798560.
  11. Weidinger S, Ring J, Köhn F (2005). "IgE-mediated allergy against human seminal plasma". Chem Immunol Allergy. Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2005. 88: 128–138. doi:10.1159/000087830. ISBN   978-3-8055-7951-3. PMID   16129942.
  12. Seaver, Richard (1987) [1987]. The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings. Grove Press. p.  268. ISBN   978-0-8021-3012-9.
  13. Williams, Linda (1989), "Fetishism and hard core: Marx, Freud, and the "money shot"", in Williams, Linda (ed.), Hard core: power, pleasure, and the "frenzy of the visible", Berkeley: University of California Press, pp.  93–94, ISBN   9780520066526. Preview.
  14. Williams, Linda (1989), "Fetishism and hard core: Marx, Freud, and the "money shot"", in Williams, Linda (ed.), Hard core: power, pleasure, and the "frenzy of the visible", Berkeley: University of California Press, p.  101, ISBN   9780520066526. Preview.
  15. "The final (niche) frontier". business.avn.com. AVN Online. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  16. Bridges, Ana J. (2010), "Pornography's effects on interpersonal relationships", in Stoner Jr., James R.; Hughes, Donna M. (eds.), The social costs of pornography: a collection of papers, Princeton, New Jersey: Witherspoon Institute, pp. 89–110, ISBN   9780981491134. Pdf.
  17. Bridges, Ana J.; Wosnitzer, Robert; Scharrer, Erica; Sun, Chyng; Liberman, Rachael (October 2010). "Aggression and sexual behavior in best-selling pornography videos: a content analysis update". Violence Against Women . Sage. 16 (10): 1065–1085. doi:10.1177/1077801210382866. PMID   20980228. S2CID   3708846. Pdf.
  18. Hess, Amanda (24 August 2009). "Semen Facials Are Like Weddings". Washington City Paper . Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  19. Savage, Dan (9 April 2009). "Savage Love". The Stranger . Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  20. "Ejaculate Maturely: A Little Man Cream Never Went This Far". Daily Nexus. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  21. Dines, G; Jensen R; Russo A (1998) [1997]. Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality. Routledge. pp.  78. ISBN   978-0-415-91812-1.
  22. Padraig McGrath. "Pornocopia – Porn, Sex, Technology and Desire – by Laurence O'Toole". Three Monkeys Online. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008.
  23. 1 2 3 Gail Dines (1 July 2010). Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. Beacon Press. p. xxiv. ISBN   978-0-8070-4452-0 . Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  24. Hay, Mark. "The Oral History of the Money Shot". vice.com. Vice. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  25. "Girls on top" by Lilly Bragge, The Age , 16 June 2004.
  26. Snow, Aurora. "Is It Time for Porn to Retire the 'Money Shot'?". thedailybeast.com. The Daily Beast. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  27. Faust, Beatrice (1980). Women, sex, and pornography: a controversial and unique study. New York: Macmillan. ISBN   978-0-02-537050-0.
  28. 1 2 3 Slade, Joseph W. (2001). Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide Vol. 2. Greenwood Press. pp. 654–656. ISBN   978-0-313-31520-6.
  29. "Ohio University Faculty". Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  30. Bruce Herschensohn; Bill Clinton; Sexologists in San Diego; Future Sex 2 by Bruce Herschensohn.
  31. Excerpt Archived 8 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine from "Among the Pornographers", Matt Labash's coverage of the 1998 World Pornography Conference for The Weekly Standard.
  32. Fuss, Diana (1991) [1 September 1991]. Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. Routledge. pp. 373–386. ISBN   978-0-415-90237-3.