What we learned from the period scene in Saltburn

What we learned from the period scene in Saltburn

Yesterday when I was scrolling through Tik Tok, I saw a video of a woman explaining there are two types of reactions after watching Saltburn: utter disgust or feeling weirdly turned on. The period scene is a perfect example of this. 

Saltburn sparked a social media frenzy due to its undeniably memorable (some might say transgressive) sex scenes, one of which includes Oliver (played by Barry Keoghan, swoon) going down on Venetia while she is on her period. This sparked a lot of thinking on our end about period sex… and period oral sex. 

Before they hooked up, Venetia signaled to Oliver that it “wasn’t the right time of the month.” This felt all too familiar. IRL it can feel annoying, embarrassing, and even shameful being on your period when you’re trying to get it on. Oliver’s indifference to the blood is what made the scene so sensual and what turned Keoghan into the latest heartthrob. Many women grow up with the assumption that men are uncomfortable with anything period-related, but this film has raised the question: are there men who want to have period sex? 

Spoiler: the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there is a term for a man who likes hooking up with a woman on her period: a bloodhound (or sometimes the more obvious, vampire). In some cases, this may be more of a blood or period fetish rather than an indifference to periods. But I suppose whatever the case, men who will gladly have period sex do exist, and there are more than you might expect!

I’ve learned, from a combination of personal experiences, reading interviews, and sifting through Reddit, that age, experience, and the nature of a relationship will affect a guy’s willingness to have period sex with you

And sometimes, it is women who are more opposed to the idea than men. This is less due to the actual blood and more to do with discomfort, shame, or even a fear of rejection. 

In my opinion, this conversation of period sex stems back to the greater issue of poor sex education. From the get-go, women are taught to be discreet about our periods: hiding our pads and tampons in our bags, being told not to talk about our periods in front of our dads, brothers, and male friends, telling our male teachers that our stomachs hurt instead of saying we have period cramps. It makes complete sense that early secretiveness about what’s going on down there has translated into insecurity about being on our periods during hookups. 

On top of that, excluding young men from period-related conversations is detrimental and contributes to their aversion to period sex. It subconsciously teaches them that periods are gross, scary, and unnecessary for them to know about. We’re not setting them up for success when faced with a period for the first time as a sexually active adult? 

The stigma is so strong that even when a guy is open to having period sex, it feels like he wants to have sex with you despite your period, instead of wanting to have sex with you regardless of your period. This is again why the Saltburn scene was so outrageous! Oliver completely dismantles that kind of toxic mentality.

As Emerald Fennell, the director of the film, perfectly stated, “[Oliver] is telling Venetia that her body, rather than something disgusting, is in fact beautiful and arousing. Menstrual blood still is something that people are squeamish about. But I think actually, it's an incredibly effective sex scene because he’s worshiping her body, and everything that her body produces, and that's not something that anyone has ever done for her before.” 

Period sex can also feel amazing. The endorphins from orgasming can help relieve cramps, your cycle can shorten as contractions help your uterus shed its lining faster, the blood acts as natural lubrication, and the change in hormones combined with increased sensitivity may make you more easily aroused. If anything, we should all take a page out of the Saltburn script- period sex does not have to be taboo or feel uncomfortable. Enjoy it!

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