It may surprise you that my dad was the first person I went to for some ‘field research’ when I wanted to know more about anal sex.
“I love it…the hole is much tighter, ” he answered.
My dad is pretty out there. I grew up in a very free-spirited and open home and no topics are off limits. But, his comments still made me question whether most men view anal sex in the same way and why there is still a veil of secrecy about who does it and why they choose to.
It’s a concept which I myself have been grappling with in recent times. As a female in her 20’s, I’ve experienced the initially subtle, then not so subtle requests for anal sex. I’ve had the same boyfriend for five years, so nothing is really ‘off limits’ sexually. Regrettably, I’ve never done it. I use the word regrettable because I know how much he wants to “stick it where it don’t belong”. But I’ve tried, I really have, and it’s a sensation I loathe more than the biting sting of a paper cut. I often wish I didn’t feel that way because I’m completely open to the idea…it’s just not for me.
I interviewed my boyfriend for the purpose of this article. I think I kind of caught him off guard when I asked him about past relationships. But, after careful and calculated explanation, he understood it was necessary. He told me that anal sex for him is an addition to sex that makes it just that “bit more naughty” and that of the seven women he’s has done it with, five were the initiators.
“I had one girlfriend I saw briefly, and I only had sex with her vaginally twice. She only wanted to do anal…Most of the girls felt like it was empowering and that the orgasm was more intense,” he said.
Hear Madison talk with ‘prude’ Carla GS on The Prude and The Pornstar about everything butt sex related… (Post continues after audio.)
I was definitely surprised by his answer. I must admit to having preconceived ideas about women rarely being the initiators or askers of anal sex – my own experiences had led me to narcissistically believe that most women viewed it as an unappealing present they’d sometimes give their boyfriend on his birthday or anniversary (like I had attempted to do innumerable times). In fact, it became a running joke between us every time he’d turn a year older. “Am I going to finally get the bum-bum tonight Sophia?” For the first three years my response was always, “yes. If you get me really wasted and walk me through it, you can have the bum-bum darling.” I’d keep my word until it came to the moment of actual penetration and then withdraw everything I had so confidently promised. But, in recent years we’ve come to a mutual understanding that it’s probably never going to happen. And, he’s cool with that. But, what I want to know is how other Australian women view it: Do they feel the same way as I do?
A very close girlfriend of mine does not share my view. Interviewing her I realised that anal sex is something that women can want and desire.
“Physiologically, it makes sense that we should enjoy it. The sensation is different to vaginal sex but I often find it’s easier to orgasm because it’s closer to the g-spot,” she said.
Anal sex secrecy and shame
It’s one thing to discuss these matters under the blanket of anonymity, but I wondered whether she was this transparent when talking about the issue to other people. She revealed that it’s an issue she feels comfortable discussing with some of her more “open” friends, but has found that many “don’t want to do it or even discuss it”.
My mother agrees, it is a subject she rarely discusses with her female friends, saying “I think there’s a stigma associated with it. I have never done it, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell anyone”.
And, I agree with them. I think most women wouldn’t openly speak about it during a sexual discussion. It seems like anal is always the dirty little secret that is too taboo to bring up in a “naughty conversation” among women.
Why is this?
Human biology: does it go against what is natural?
The most obvious reason is that biologically, it’s not relevant. We can’t fulfil the process of procreation – Foetuses don’t grow in our bowels. And, speaking of bowels, I think some women, of which I am one, simply can’t see past the complete juxtaposition of faeces and sex. One is disgusting. The other is possibly the most coveted thing in the world (other than money). To me, they just can’t be placed on the same shelf.
It can hurt and be messy
It’s really painful (the reason I could never go through with it).
And, I’ve heard horror stories about the shortcomings of anal sex. When I was in high-school there was a rumour going around about a girl who literally “shat the bed” after having anal sex for the first time – apparently her enlarged anus could no longer hold the contents of her bowels. If it is true, I really feel for her. I honestly can’t imagine anything more humiliating.
Homosexuality and sexual health concerns
Then there are the health concerns – It’s easier to contract STD’s through anal sex because the anus (lacking natural lubrication) tears, which allows bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstream. William Blahd, a doctor and reviewer of WebMD described it as the “riskiest form of sexual activity.” I think the public knows about this.
Less pressing, is the homosexual connotations that anal sex brings up. We should question whether homophobia contributes to the stigma that has been attached to it. Is it possible that women feel as though anal is a sex act reserved only for gay men?
One 22 year old Sydney female said that for her, the taboo of anal sex lies in the fact that “the bum hole is designed for defecating”.
“I have nothing against it. But, I get enough pleasure through regular vaginal sex. I’ve never contemplated receiving pleasure in that way,” she said.
“At the same time there are women who like it, so it can’t all be about male gratification at their expense.”
Another female in her early twenties said that one of her ex-boyfriends would incessantly ask her for anal sex, making her feel manipulated and insecure in the relationship.
“He made me feel like if I didn’t do it, I wasn’t good enough sexually…like I wasn’t giving him enough through normal sex.”
The relationship between porn and anal
Aussie porn star Lucie Bee believes porn is making anal seem more normal, adding that although it is something she has done in porn, it is not something she does frequently with her partners outside of work.
“I think there’s this notion that as performers we do everything on film in our personal lives OR that we’re all doing NON STOP BUTT STUFF ALL THE TIME. Not true."
And that’s another thing worth discussing…has porn normalised anal sex? Do men have an expectation that we should all be giving up our rear-entrances, all the time?
Recently, free internet porn provider, Pornhub shared some statistics about the recent behaviour of its audience members.
Examining the growth in people searching for anal sex on the website, they found that from 2009 to 2015, it had increased by 78 %.
Another statistic, provided by the Internet Adult Film Database showed that 62% of female porn stars approve doing anal scenes on the job, but only 53% will take part in interracial scenes.
Only one in ten female sex performers are more uncomfortable with the concept of interracial sex than they are with handing over their bum-bums.
Not only am I shocked by its indication of the ever-present racism within society, but also the insight it gives into how commonly sought after anal sex is in the porn industry.
I’d argue there are two reasons for this:
- Female porn actresses make more money if they do anal scenes - according to porn talent agent, Mark Spiegler, female porn actresses make an average of $100-$300 more, on top of what they are already being paid if they do an anal scene.
- As mentioned prior, the viewing of porn videos involving anal sex has increased tremendously in the last 6 years.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine offered a comparison between its findings in 1992 and 2010. The 1992 survey showed that 16% of American women aged between 18-24 had tried anal.
In 2010, they revealed that this number had risen to 40%.
In simple terms, the number of American women who have had anal sex has more than doubled in less than two decades.
Perhaps more interesting, is the rise in frequency in which women are having anal sex.
In 1992, the percentage of American women in their 20’s and 30’s who reported having anal sex in the past year was 10%. In 2010 that number had doubled to 20%, and one third of those women said they’d done in it the past month.
What the expert has to say
Sex Therapist and author, Jacqueline Hellyer says that in one respect porn is great, because it takes away the taboo of some sex acts, making people feel more comfortable with their own sexual desires. However, she understands that it makes some people feel as though they should mimic what they observe in porn scenes.
“The good thing that porn does is that it normalises sex in all of its forms. But, at the same time it focuses on the things that are the most out-there, so it makes some people feel like they should be doing the things they are observing in porn,” she said.
Sex therapists believe that anal sex needs to be discussed openly and without restriction, including the sexual health concerns it raises.
The male perspective
Most of my research has been concerned with how females feel about anal sex. However, the heterosexual male perspective is just as important.
I have interviewed five males between the ages of 22 and 62 and an ex male porn star to see what they had to say.
23 year old Charlie, an old school friend of mine, says that he enjoys anal sex “a lot”, adding that his appetite for it stems both from the feeling of dominance he gains, but also the respect and acceptance he feels from his sexual partners.
“I think overall, young men see it as somewhat of a power-play, but, I know that personally, aside from the dominant feeling it's the idea that a girl is willing to do that for you that’s the best feeling…plus, butt holes are super tight and that’s really fun,” he said.
When asked about who has been the most predominant pusher of anal between himself and his partners, Charlie revealed it was “almost always” his idea.
“Out of the girls I have had anal sex with, only one or two of them have been the ones to bring it up in any circumstance. Out of those, there was only one that I believe actually wanted it for her self. The others, I believe were mostly aiming to please”, he divulged.
My boyfriend who is in his 30’s, agreed, it’s a nice feeling when a woman allows a man to have anal with her because it signifies “complete openness”.
“It’s not necessarily only about the fact that that it’s tighter and naughtier than vaginal sex, it’s that there’s an added sense of intimacy and sexual freedom that you can share with each other”, he said.
B*, a man in his 40’s who has chosen to remain anonymous, said that he has had eight partners with whom he’s had anal with, but added it has never been a sex act that he has pushed for.
“I enjoy it because it is a taboo, but above all, it gives them [women] pleasure. I need to stress that I will only do it with a partner that is willing to and only if she enjoys it in the first place…at the end of the day, if she is feeling pleasure than so am I,” he said.
When asked about porn’s influence on males today, B* said it is definitely much more accessible now than when he was young and that the content has become more extreme.
“Now, anyone at any age can see some pretty crazy sh*t with one click of a button. Personally though, I have no expectations. But, others probably do because of porn,” he revealed.
Marcus, a family friend in his 60’s, told me that he has never asked for anal sex, and that it has always happened as more of a progression during sex.
“It’s not something I would ask for, but more of a progression of sexual activity as one discovers the others’ desires…I tend to leave anal as the dessert in a session,” he said.
Marcus also agreed, that the accessibility of porn has probably contributed to greater expectations in the day-to-day bedroom.
“With access to the Internet, it’s [anal sex] has become more normalised,” he said.
D*, a former porn actor who chose to remain anonymous, said that during his career, most of his scenes involved anal sex.
“It has become the norm to have an anal scene in a full length porn. It depends on the person booked, but I would say it occurred for me in about 80% of the jobs I did,” he said.
However, D* acknowledged that when it comes to anal sex in porn, it is often an unrealistic depiction of how it comes about in real life.
“Men are seeing it more and in more varied ways that can be unrealistic. Often, the anal you see in porn requires a lot of warming up, practice, lube and cleaning etc. which makes it look easier than it is. It is viewed so often [by audiences] because it is the most mainstream taboo along with sloppy blow-jobs,” he said.
As for his sex-life outside of porn, D* admits anal sex is definitely very frequent.
“Most of my home sex-life is anally based – either giving or receiving. My current partner is female and I will anally penetrate her, then she will put on a strap on and anally penetrate me,” he revealed.
After the climax
Heterosexual anal sex is happening, at rates higher than statistics may indicate. So, clearly it’s an issue that should be put under the spotlight, beyond the lights and cameras of porn. Then, women and men who aren’t interested in this sex act wouldn’t feel prudish or unadventurous. For those who do enjoy it or have the desire to do it, they might then indulge without shame and restriction. Sexuality without pressure or expectation is important, and something that should be acted out without limitation.