How Spit Became a Kink

When "spit in my mouth" replaced "step on me" as the standard simp Twitter response, you know the culture has shifted.
A topless man spitting
Photo: Elke Van de Velde / Getty Images

Discovering I was into spit was one of those life-altering realisations, like deciding I didn’t want kids, or that I should probably take out a pension plan. It began innocently, dribbling its way into my most intimate moments — an overdrawn kiss here, a little excess saliva there — before peaking, triumphantly, on the best date of my life, where myself and a vegan chef spent the evening at [redacted pub] in east London, pre-fuck, spitting rum and coke into each other’s mouths like two disgusting, horny baby birds. 


Apparently, I’m not the only one swallowing pro-spit propaganda — saliva has been saturating our screens for a while now, with The Ringer announcing last year that “This Fall’s Hottest Pop Culture Trend Is ... Spitting”, referencing examples from Dune and Ted Lasso, among others. The moment that started it all though was, undoubtedly, that spit scene from Disobedience way back in 2017, setting in motion a long, wet string of events that have continued to captivate us ever since (my fave being Carey Mulligan spitting into Bo Burnham’s coffee in Promising Young Woman, for personal reasons.)

By 2022, even the most platonic of oral expulsions have become pant-wettingly sexy. Recently, the world stopped on its axis as Harry Styles appeared to spit on Chris Pine at a film festival screening of Don’t Worry Darling (though this was later debunked by both their agents), and our overwhelming obsession with oral fluids took centre stage. Meanwhile, the standard simp Twitter response of “step on me” is fast being replaced by “spit in my mouth”, and the TikTok hashtags for #spit and #spittok are positively overflowing, at 413.1M and 146.1M views respectively. We are truly living in the spit age. 


But what’s wetting our appetite for spit? Sex expert Isabelle Uren from Bedbible thinks part of the appeal of spit play is that it allows partners to explore different power dynamics. “One of the big psychological appeals of spit play is that it amplifies the dom/sub dynamic that people seek out in power play,” she tells VICE. “This type of play can be really freeing and allows us to explore sides of our character that we don't usually interact with. A study by [psychology professor Brad] Sagarin and colleagues also found that both doms and subs can enter positive altered states of consciousness during BDSM play.” This perhaps explains why I, briefly, wished I was a notebook while watching Shiv’s unique form of power play over Kendall, in this particularly delicious Succession scene. 

Isabelle also acknowledges that spitting is generally a gross thing to do in regular civilised society, which makes it all the more appealing in the bedroom. “Spitting breaks a big social taboo. Breaking such an ingrained rule feels naughty and brings a real rush of excitement that translates into arousal,” she explains. “Our brain interprets things differently in the context of sex and pleasure, and our inhibitions tend to be lowered, so things we might usually think of as disgusting can become arousing.”


Messaging my friends, Twitter mutuals and Feeld matches, I found that they were drawn to spit for similar reasons. “For me, it's definitely the degradation aspect and also the fact that it's a good natural lubricant,” Selene, 19, who is speaking anonymously to protect her privacy, tells me. “Plus, it's fun to play with too.” 

Twenty-seven-year-old Luke enjoys the power play and degradation aspects of spit play, but also feels it can be quite sensual. “Sometimes with partners during more sensual and slow sessions, spitting in each other’s mouths has added some extra level of intimacy and connection in the heat of the moment,” he admits. “It feels like a very active engaged thing to do in sex. When someone is on top of you and they want to spit in your mouth, I have always felt incredibly desired in that moment.”

Penny, 25, agrees, acknowledging spit as the singular unifier of violence and passion — pretty Shakespearian, if you ask me. “I think it's quite intimate in a violent way,” she says. “And there's much more intention. When you're kissing somebody it's obviously much more loving, but there's something about the violence in spitting, and the meanness of it all, that I find very exposing and intimate.” 

But just how popular is spitting, and has it increased in recent years? Isabelle thinks the kink has always been popular but is just having a moment in the spotlight, aided by our open-mindedness about kink in general. “There are a lot of reasons that can contribute to spit play being more prevalent in the media. First of all, the fact that kink, in general, has become more mainstream is a large part of it,” she explains (and with #kinktok erupting onto our TikTok feeds at a whopping 11.5bn views, she isn’t wrong). “There are also some things that make it easier to swallow, so to say, than other kinks. It's kinky without being too extreme or explicit, and it's pretty relatable.”


Penny agrees. “It's gritty. It's like, a few levels down from piss. But it's like a nice mediator between piss and between, you know, general saliva stuff.” 

Selene agrees that spitting is definitely “in” at the moment, even pre-Spitgate. “I guess I have heard of it more often in these past few years, especially with people on Twitter or TikTok, saying that they want this celebrity, or that celebrity to spit on them.” Some celebs have taken this onboard and made spit a central part of their live act — Slowthai and Yungblud both notable, if decidedly unsexy, examples. 

Just as pegging your boyfriend’s hairy arse defined the girlboss era, I also wonder if the global pandemic has sparked an overwhelming desire for a kink that would surely terrify any microbiologist.

Isabelle isn’t sure. “In terms of COVID, while it definitely put saliva in the spotlight, I'm not sure that would translate into people wanting to try spit play more.” (I honestly thought I was onto something.) “It has, however, made it more of a taboo, which could appeal to some people.”


So, if you are interested in breaking that taboo, how do you engage in spit play safely?

“Always avoid spitting in someone’s eyes as this can result in an eye infection,” Isabelle tells VICE. “You want to make sure that you have been tested for STIs and aren't currently infected with an STI or other infectious disease that can spread through saliva.” 

Keeping your spit tasting like Juicy Fruit and generally making it as pleasant as possible for the other party also means taking care of your teeth. “You also want to keep on top of your oral health for a more pleasant experience in the moment and to limit the transfer of harmful bacteria,” Isabelle explains.

As we edge closer to Halloween, the WitchTok girlies are, of course, now claiming that spitting in your partner’s mouth during sex, or having them spit into yours, can be used as a spell to make them obsessed with you. Dubious evidence for this aside, it’s important to make sure you’re not just participating in spit play for the sake of a viral trend, and that both parties have provided enthusiastic verbal consent. “You should also discuss your boundaries, so you know which body parts are ok to spit on and which are off limits,” Isabelle says. “And, of course, choose a safe word that stops the play immediately should one of you feel uncomfortable.” 

I’m meeting someone new next week, so I test the waters by shoehorning spit into our conversation. “that does sound pretty hot,” he types back in lowercase as I practically foam at the mouth. “i’m walking through lewisham rn with the most awkward hard-on.” Here’s hoping the forecast for our first date will be wetter and messier than ever.