A cum shot is the act—or the depiction of the act—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 (or "facials") 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.
The term is typically used by the cinematographer within the narrative framework of a pornographic film, and, since the 1970s, it has become a leitmotif of the hardcore genre. Two exceptions are softcore pornography, in which penetration is not explicitly shown, and "couples erotica", which may involve penetration but is typically filmed in a more discreet manner intended to be romantic or educational rather than graphic. Softcore pornography that does not contain ejaculation sequences is produced both to respond to a demand by some consumers for less-explicit pornographic material and to comply with government regulations or cable company rules that may disallow depictions of ejaculation. Cum shots typically do not appear in "girl-girl" scenes (female ejaculation scenes exist, but are relatively rare); orgasm is instead implied by utterances, cinematic conventions, or body movement.
A cum shot may also be called a cumshot, come shot, cum blast, pop shot or money shot. While the term cum shot normally refers to filming of the ejaculation scene in a pornographic movie (the term shot in "cum shot" refers to the filming, or "shooting" of the scene), the term is also used more loosely to refer to the actual physiological event of male ejaculation.
Originally, in general film-making usage the term money shot was a reference to the scene that cost the most money to produce; in addition, the inclusion of this expensive special effect sequence is being counted on to become a selling point for the film. For example, in an action thriller, an expensive special effects sequence of a dam bursting might be called the "money shot" of the film. The use of money shot to denote the ejaculation scene in pornographic films is attributed to producers paying the male actors extra for it. The meaning of the term money shot has sometimes been borrowed back from pornography by the film and TV industry with a meaning closer to that used in pornographic films. For example, in TV talk shows, the term, borrowed from pornography, denotes a highly emotional scene, expressed in visible bodily terms.
Origin and features
Facials were described in literature predating the modern age of pornography. In the metaphor-laden 19th century poem Goblin Market, villainous goblins try to cajole a young woman to eat their forbidden, alluring fruits and attendant juices:
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
The 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." Other published examples can be found in the private letters of James Joyce and The Hite Report.
Although earlier pornographic films occasionally contained footage of ejaculation, it was not until the advent of hard-core pornography in the 1970s that the stereotypical cum shot scene became a standard feature—displaying ejaculation with maximum visibility. An oft quoted influential work of this era, Steven Ziplow's The Film Maker's Guide to Pornography (1977), states:
There are those who believe that the come shot, or, as some refer to it, the "money shot," is the most important element in the movie and that everything else (if necessary) should be sacrificed at its expense. Of course, this depends on the outlook of the producer, but the one thing is for sure: if you don't have the come shots, you don't have a porno picture.
Cum shot scenes may involve the female actor calling for the shot to be directed at some specific part of her body. Cultural analysis researcher Murat Aydemir considers this one of the three quintessential aspects of the cum shot scene, alongside the emphasis on visible ejaculation and the timing of the cum shot, which usually concludes a hard-core scene.
As a possible alternative explanation for the rise of the cum shot in hardcore pornography, Joseph Slade, professor at Ohio University and author of Pornography and sexual representation: a reference guide notes that pornography 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.
Transmission of disease
Any sexual activity that involves contact with the bodily fluids of another person contains the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Semen is in itself generally harmless on the skin or if swallowed. 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.
Aside from other sexual activity that may have occurred prior to performing a facial the risks incurred by the giving and receiving partner are drastically different. For the ejaculating partner there is almost no risk of contracting an STD. For the receiving partner, the risk is higher. 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.
In rare cases, people have been known to experience allergic reactions to seminal fluids, known as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity. 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.
Options for prevention of semen allergy include avoiding exposure to seminal fluid by use of condoms and attempting desensitization. Treatment options include diphenhydramine and/or an injection of epinephrine.
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. 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. In response to an inquiry from a reader, sex columnist Dan Savage wrote: "Facials are degrading—and that's why they're so hot." 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".
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." 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."
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."
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". 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." She adds that at least for some posters on adult forums discussing such scenes, the pleasure is derived from watching a woman suffer.
Another critic of "cum shot" scenes in heterosexual pornography is the US porn star-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.
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.
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. This occurs in both homosexual and hetrosexual [sic] pornography so that ejaculation cannot be interpreted as an expression of contempt for women only."  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."
Joseph Slade, professor at Ohio University, 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.
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). 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".
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. 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.
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