Bed, Bitch & Beyond: Rear-Ended by Porn

 

Since I wrote some posts blaming things on porn--including the new enthusiasm for facial cumshots and FFM threesomes--I've gotten multiple reader mail requests to discuss one more staple of mainstream hetero porn: anal sex.

A disclaimer before we start: I am not arguing against anal sex. There's nothing wrong with it. It can be pleasurable and enjoyable, and--as with any sex act--if two consenting adults want to engage in it, I don't judge and neither should you.

Okay then.

Recent scientifc data--which we'll get to in a minute--suggests that heterosexual women, and especially young women, are having anal sex more frequently than ever before. For our mother's and grandmother's generation, anal sex was just about the ultimate taboo, a perverse act that couples rarely did or at least, never admitted to. Not anymore. Now it's one of the most popular searches on Google, joked about and referred to endlessly on reality TV and in scripted popular shows like "Entourage," "Sex and the City". Even good-girl Renee Zellweger has a go with Hugh Grant in "Bridget Jones.".

As with any trend in women's sexual behavior, I think it's fair to examine what cultural influences might account for this change. People are more likely to engage in a formerly taboo sex act if depictions of it are widely available, even celebrated. And where is anal sex eroticized, and depicted as not only normal, but totally hot?

Why porn, of course.

A recent feminist call-to-arms by Janice Turner in the Times of London (which I've quoted from before and is worth a read) blames porn and the "raunch culture" it creates for exalting anal sex. Not because it's wrong, mind you, but because it's yet another sex act women feel obliged to perform--enthusiastically--for male pleasure, usually at the expense of their own pleasure.

As the academic Rosalind Gill has pointed out, in raunch culture women are not passive sexual objects, but active, even voracious agents. Or so they appear. Mostly, though, they are acting out the scripts, the exaggerated desires of pornography.

When porn lived on the top shelf it was clearly fantasy, removed from real relationships. But once porn was omnipresent it suddenly gave the appearance of being true. Porn has "groomed" young women until they don't even address their own pleasure. Instead they are expected to get off on men getting off on them.

Today [sex] is perceived as something women perform for men...And anal sex, that Act 4 of every porn movie, which gives little female pleasure and often much pain, is now firmly in the sexual repertoire of many 16-year-old girls.

Turner describes the work of Jessica Ringrose, a sociologist specializing in gender issues at the University of London. Dr. Ringrose, in her research on teen girls and culture, discovered that on the social networking site Bebo:

"Hi I'm Daniella And I Like It Up The Bum" is typical of the taglines she came across among girls as young as 13.

Because the way to get attention and be sexy is to talk about how you like it up the ass--even if you're still in junior high! (Excuse me while I head/desk).

I've watched a lot of anal sex in hetero porn, and in nearly every case, the actresses are writhing and moaning in obviously fake--or at the very least, heavily exaggerated--pleasure, while the male actors piston away. I find those scenes wince-inducing, and the descriptions, like "blond slut gets her ass pounded," are even worse. But they've become a staple of hetero porn DVDs and popular free porn websites like RedTube and YouPorn. As a result, anal sex has joined hairless crotches, FFM threesomes and facial cumshots as the beau ideal of hetero hotness.

And in case you think Ringrose and Turner are being alarmist, there's plenty of data from credible sources that leaves little doubt that more--and increasingly younger--women are having anal sex. A study recently published on-line by The American Journal of Public Health reported on both the rise in heterosexual anal intercourse among teens and young adults:

A new study by researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center suggests that the incidence of heterosexual anal sex is increasing among teens and young adults particularly those who have recently had unprotected vaginal sex. These findings mirror recent data that show anal sex rates among adults doubled between the years 1995 and 2004.
The study, published online by the American Journal of Public Health, is among the first to report on the little-known factors associated with heterosexual anal intercourse among adolescents and young adults.

"The topic of anal intercourse is often considered taboo especially when discussed in the context of youth relationships even though we know that this behavior is a significant risk factor for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It's critical that we recognize that more and more young people are engaging in anal sex so we can open the lines of communications and help them protect their sexual health," says lead author Celia Lescano, PhD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC).

Researchers assessed the sexual behavior of 1,348 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 who had unprotected sex in the previous three months. They found that 16 percent had engaged in heterosexual anal intercourse within the timeframe, with condoms being used just 29 percent of the time.

The study also suggests that these young women are having anal sex not for their own pleasure, but acquiesce to the desires of their male partners:

Females who had heterosexual anal sex were more likely to be living with their partners, to have two or more sexual partners and to have previously experienced coerced intercourse (ed: that's science-speak for "rape victim").

"These findings suggest that the factors associated with anal intercourse among females in the study relate to the context and power balance of sexual relationships," says Lescano, who's also an assistant professor of psychiatry (research) at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "We must teach teen girls and young women how to be assertive in sexual relationships, such as refusing unwanted sexual acts and negotiating for safer sex, whether it's anal or vaginal."

A different study by the Hutchinson Cancer Research center also found a distinct uptick in the number of women engaging in anal sex:

...among the female control group studied, 21.5 percent had reported practicing anal sex, a significant increase from a previous case-control study, published in 1987, in which 11 percent of female controls had reported ever having anal sex.

Incidentally, Hutchinson studied the popularity of anal sex because doctors believe it's linked to rising rates of HPV-related anal cancer. As part of its research on STIs, the CDC also studied the trend, and reports that 34% of women 25-44 reported having had anal sex.

When you see a new or expanding trend in sexual behavior--or any human behavior at all--it's illogical to assume that it just sprang up all by itself. Sexual trends are rooted in the larger culture. It makes perfect sense to assume that repeated exposure to eroticized depictions of anal sex is going to make both men and women curious about it and more likely to try it. No harm there--that's certainly how and why I decided to try it.

Problem is, hetero mainstream porn isn't depicting the kind of careful, attentive interaction that makes anal sex pleasurable. In fact, in porn there's no attention paid to the woman's pleasure--or even her comfort--at all. The male actors just plunge in and start pounding. It's not the kind of sex teens--or anyone else--should aspire to. Unfortunately, in our pornified popular culture, male pleasure is king, and young women are buying into that message, instead of expecting equal focus on their own pleasure (or the chance to say "no thanks, not for me" without repercussion or ridicule). What's even more discouraging is that they seem to think they must do it in order to be seen as sexy, or popular.

Thanks, porn.

(Public Service Announcement: For excellent, road-tested, woman-friendly advice on all aspects of anal sex, look no further than the sexy and sex-positive Tristan Taormino and her book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, as well as her website, www.puckerup.com. You can also check out Toni Bentley's ridiculously self-indulgent but enthusiastic erotic memoir of anal sex and submission: The Surrender)

 

 

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Comments

39 comments have been made. Post a comment.

What Now?

Now that you've identified the pantheon of "hetero hotness" (hairless crotches, FFM threesomes, facial cumshots, and anal sex), can you identify kinks that are not to be found in mainstream porn? What might we consider unproblematically hot?

that might be a post in and of itself

I think "unproblematically hot" in the porn world is just your basic vanilla activity--oral and vaginal sex. Although even depictions of those acts can cause a case of the anti-feminist icks depending on the way it's portrayed (for example, a dude bending a woman over and calling her a slut while he fucks her doggy-style might be problematic for a lot of women).

But in terms of kink, there's SO much that doesn't make it into mainstream porn but has a very lively and vocal following in the so-called fetish porn world, including things like foot play, cross-dressing, BDSM, role-play, male bisexuality, naturally hairy women, "mature" sex, female dominant sex, etc.

And then there's queer porn, which serves a large audience but doesn't get any respect at all from the hetero porn world.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

well

anal sex is unproblematically hot if you like anal sex. the problem isn't the anal sex, it's the mainstreaming of anal sex. it's not a problem that people have cell phones, it's a problem that people are considered weird without them.

it's just as problematic to assume a woman likes vaginal intercourse as anything else.

in a male-supremacist society, the things society deems sexy will always be problematic. while it totally makes sense to talk about these things the way we are here, it's also important to know that making porn more pro-woman doesn't make our society more pro woman. it's just one of the many areas we need to work on.

also, a form of birth control

I won't take credit: Dan Savage says it. Kids are using anal sex as a way around losing their virginity and tackling birth control issues. Yes, of course these young adults need some education on what the definition of sex is. But I do agree with Savage's explanation (and I'm almost certain his thoughts stem from a study or poll, of which I cannot remember). I just wanted to mention this explanation of young adults and anal sex because it was not discussed in this blog post.

very true

I went to college in a fairly conservative Bible-belt-y place, and I was amazed by the number of self-described Christian girls who had had anal sex because it was seen as "safe" or a way of preserving their virginity.

Still, without condoms, it's the least safe women can have. I shudder to think of girls having unprotected anal sex to keep from getting pregnant. Anal's the most effective way of transmitting STIs, particularly HIV.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

If I recall correctly, the

If I recall correctly, the rates of anal sex went up in areas that put abstinence programs in place. Which would support the idea that it's partly an avoidance of vaginal sex for at least some teens.

I also would like to point out that there is a somewhat more positive way to spin this. (Although I agree that the pressure to do it is BAD). Some small part of the uptick may be from people who are actually curious and WANT to try it and the mainstreaming is just giving them some form of "permission." I remember feeling this way about female masturbation being discussed/shown on TV when I was younger. Suddenly a bunch of my friends and I felt a lot better about talking about it and admitting that we did it. This isn't to say that this is necessarily the way we should look at this, but it is certainly possible in the absence of other data.

"some small part of the uptick may be from people..."

...who are actually curious and WANT to try it."

Yep, as I said in the post, that was pretty much my experience. I do think that porn/erotica can be valuable for those reasons. Unfortunately, it's hard to separate the downside from the upside and I worry that teens--both male and female--are more likely to absorb the bad messages than the good ones, since our culture is one that celebrates the male sexual experience instead of the female one.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

I'll back this up. I went

I'll back this up. I went to high school and college - for the first time, at least - in Oklahoma, and I heard my share of stories about religious girls who wanted to be virgins when they got married, so they'd let the guy do them in the butt instead.

This was in the mid-90s, by the way.

Indeed

I think abstinence-only education has a lot to do with this, because teenagers see anal as a way of fooling around without having The Sex. Of course, it can spread spread STDs, and you can still get pregnant depending on the circumstances, but these facts are less likely to be taught in these classes (because penis/vagina is king! 'Scuse me while I head/desk myself.)
Good post, Ms Sharper -- you're doing a great job of reporting on "porny" effects without demonizing any sexual acts.

I Hear you on THAT One...

Penis + vagina sex ed says nothing of penis+penis, vagina+vagina, penis+anus, mouth+anus or fingers+anus.

Who's in favor of sexual education reform? I AM! IAM!

That doesn't explain it.

That's hardly new.
Anal-sex-as-birth-control (and apocryphal virginity-preserver) been going on since before Dan Savage was born, so it doesn't logically explain the current uptick among teens. In fact, these days, it makes almost no sense to use anal sex that way.

Until about the late 80s, the only choices a sexually active teen had were to 1) risk pregnancy, 2) have non-vaginal sex or 3) abstain completely, because birth control was basically impossible for kids to get discreetly.
But in the wake of HIV/AIDS, there's at least one that's incredibly easy to get: condoms.
They're given away for free, they're sold from vending machines, they're as easy to get as a pack of gum. And we've been encouraging— nay, begging— kids to use them for decades now. Plus, unlike vaginal sex, anal sex is not pleasant for most (most!) women; in fact, it can be distinctly painful. If all you want to do is to avoid pregnancy, there are much more pleasant ways to do that!

[I wonder— and I'm totally pulling this out of my ass; no pun intended— if the drastic drop-off in HIV/AIDS/STD education has anything to do with this? Because they ought to know that disease transmission is much higher with anal sex, but apparently ...they don't.]

I think the prevalence of

I think the prevalence of anal sex goes beyond its use as a form of birth control; anal sex isn't "real" sex so it's A-OK!

Really?

Obviously the concept of using anal (or oral, mutual masturbation, etc.) sex to prevent pregnancy is older than dirt.
The article is addressing how many women - not the men who get all the pleasure - hate anal sex - not because it is "taboo," but because it very painful or even excruciating.
Unless a woman does not experience pain during anal sex or she enjoys pain, it will destroy her sex life and the sex life she has with her sexual partner.
I have seen and heard couples talking about sex, where the women is saying how much she hates anal sex and how much it hurts in front of her partner, but she does it to make him happy, and he seems nonchalant and not even be bothered by her statement. It appears evident that culturally women feel obligated to endure pain and suffering to pleasure their partner and that the men culturally believe that women are obligated to please them at all costs.
The question is why do men ignore the pain and suffering of their partner in order to get off?
It appears that women are regressing sexually, while male sexuality is as selfish as ever. At least in the "old" days a selfish lover ejaculated quickly and left the woman hanging, but at least her anus was not being ripped to shreds.

I appreciate that you

I appreciate that you mentioned the thing I think sucks the hardest about the way anal sex is shown in mainstream porn, which is how it's portrayed as being all about just sticking it in and going at it hard. I actually have enjoyed it the times I've done it, but man, it was nothing like what I've seen in porn.

I know the performers go through a lot of prep work to get ready for those scenes, but that's because I've read a lot about it. I'm not sure the average porn consumer does the same, and so I worry that they have all these unrealistic expectations for how anal is supposed to go down, which makes it a less than enjoyable experience.

Another thing is that it would be nice if it wasn't always portrayed as this degrading thing that you do to put a woman in her place. That always bothered me, too. I mean, that's cool if degradation and power trips are your thing, but it's not the ONLY way to have sex, you know?

Definitely agree...

Every time I see anal in hetero porn I can't help but think "OMG, UR DOIN IT RONG!" Granted, many of these people are professionals and do prep work and know what their limits are. And they're not in it for the pleasure.

But it's definitely NOT a realistic depiction of the kind of careful, gentle anal sex that's pleasurable for women, or at least not most women (I'm qualifying that because I know if I don't someone will come into this comment thread and say "But I just LOVE getting my ass jackhammered!")

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Is The Problem Butt Sex, or Bad Sex?

Oh HI! First: I am assuming that you know I like your work. Yes? Neat!

Second: I will now prove why I never leave blog comments! By going on at semi-unreasonable length!

This is a puzzler for me, because I do know lots of women whose experience of butt sex has been abusive. Guys trying to "surprise" them, or claiming that "it slipped," or what have you. Which is MASSIVELY UNCOOL, and fits the moral definition of sexual assault, doing something without gaining consent. I also know women whose experience of anal sex has been irresponsible - claiming that they did it because they couldn't find a condom, whereas that's far less safe than condomless vaginal intercourse in some ways.

HOWEVER! I can't help but feel that, when you mention that butt sex used to be "taboo," and is not now, and then proceed to talk about girls getting pressured into it, your post can be read as WISHING that it were more taboo. Saying that the lifting of the taboo is responsible for the pressure. And I think the taboo is directly responsible for people not knowing enough about it to do it safely, or for guys feeling that girls will be so averse to it that they have to trick them into it (obvs, nothing excuses tricking girls into a kind of sex they haven't consented to, but we can draw the connection without excusing them). Butt sex is still pretty damn taboo, actually - even people who do it often won't admit to it or will feel ashamed about it. And that has consequences, including homophobia (I can't remember how many people have tried to justify homophobia to me by claiming they were just grossed out by butt sex) and slut-shaming.

Actually, the study you quoted skeeves me, and although I haven't seen it all, I can't draw the same conclusions from it that you have. Girls who had anal sex were more likely to (1) be living with their partners, (2) to have two or more sexual partners (is this HAVE HAD? or HAVE CURRENTLY?), or (3) be rape survivors. Color me skeptical, but those last two - dating around! Being a rape survivor! - seem likely to be seized upon as proof that women who have anal sex are either slutty or damaged or both. Or, you know, they're cohabitating. Which is true for a lot of people. I'm highly skeptical that commitment, experience, or survivorhood are actually correlated with anal sex in the same way, even if they can be understood as correlatives. (Signifying increased trust for one's partner, increased sexual confidence, or... what? Having an experience that 1 in 6 women also share?) Whence the need to draw the scientific portrait of The Female Anal Sex Haver, anyway? What are they trying to prove? And, really, since when is a rise in a consensual sex practice a concern? What we need to be concerned with is whether people are doing it safely and with full consent. As long as that standard's met, feminists need to stay the hell out of the way and let it happen. Because our job is pretty much done.

Yeah, lots of dudes go straight for the porn moves in bed, despite those moves typically not being calculated to please a lady as well as others might. In my experience, those dudes are either (1) sweet and inexperienced, and are doing it to seem more manly, and will stop or change tactics if you explain what works for you, or (2) total fucking pricks. Anal sex, like pretty much every other sexual practice up to and including missionary-position vaginal intercourse, can be totally awesome, a hellish ordeal, or anything in between. (Which is why Raymond's essay generally irritated the pants off me - big, sweeping statements like "[anal sex] gives little female pleasure and often much pain" are ignorant, untrue, and read like an updated version of the age-old GOOD GIRLS DON'T. And if they do, they're PATHETIC! And have been BRAINWASHED BY RAUNCH CULTURE! Concern troll much, lady?) In order for it to be awesome, you do need explicit communication between both parties, an understanding of each others' boundaries, and a willingness to try things out and adapt your technique to minimize suckiness and maximize awesomeness. And an understanding that the words "no" and "stop" mean exactly what they say. If partners can't do that, and resort to coercion or other abusive behaviors, the problem isn't porn per se. It's just sexism. And that would affect the quality of the experience no matter what kind of sex the parties were having.

thank you! this comment,

thank you!

this comment, which doesn't seem at all unreasonable in length to me, seems to get at everything i was thinking about this blogpost (minus the first part-- no offense to beckysharper, but i'm not really a fan of her column. different strokes, etc).

anyway, i found this bit especially great : "What are they trying to prove? And, really, since when is a rise in a consensual sex practice a concern? What we need to be concerned with is whether people are doing it safely and with full consent. As long as that standard's met, feminists need to stay the hell out of the way and let it happen. Because our job is pretty much done."

i'm also glad that someone brought up the "good girls don't-oh noez hypnotized by raunch culture" thing, because yeah...

ok, i'll stop biting your lines and just reiterate that your comment was appreciated.

You're wrong.

"HOWEVER! I can't help but feel that, when you mention that butt sex used to be "taboo," and is not now, and then proceed to talk about girls getting pressured into it, your post can be read as WISHING that it were more taboo."

You're completely wrong about that. I said in multiple places in the post that:

A) There's nothing wrong with anal sex and we should not judge people who enjoy it.
B) It can be pleasurable and enjoyable.
C) I have it myself and like it.

Absolutely nowhere at any time did I say that people should stop doing it or that it should be taboo.

The problem--as you and I both see it-- is that "girls get pressured into it."

I think pressuring girls into any sex act is wrong--and you don't have to hold someone down and rape them in order to coerce them into doing something they don't like and don't find pleasurable.

Our male-dominated culture pressures women into doing all kinds of things they don't want to do, both in bed and out. That's not being "brainwashed by raunch culture" or treating women as though they don't have free will. That's reality.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Y'know, I'm getting tired of

Y'know, I'm getting tired of the public rejection of porn. Maybe I'm just a brainwashed teenager, but I don't think that a depiction of sex acts in the interest of self-pleasure has as much power as we ascribe to it. I mean, this same panic happens every few years with violence in video games, values in children's shows, violence and sex in movies, ad nauseum. Us young girls are nowhere near as stupid as the previous generation seem to think we are, nor are the boys. We know porn isn't real. Hell, half of time we watch porn out of sheer amusement (including boys). And yes, previous taboos are relaxing, and as such teenagers are partaking in the spoils.

I have anal sex (which I had to talk my boyfriend into over the course of two months), shave, would love to participate in a threesome (if my boyfriend was comfortable with it, which he's not) and have tried facials (stung my eyes, which is the main reason I'm never doing it again). I am not doing it as a trend, or because of porn's evil influences. I am doing it because I love my boyfriend, love sex and want to try as many flavors as I can in order to establish my likes and dislikes.

And, yeah, all that about kids younger and younger advertising their willingness to take it up the bum? That's more evidence of the broader trend of shock humor. Blame Family Guy for everyone switching from situational humor to fart jokes and non sequiters.

I don't think anyone's saying you're brainwashed...

...just that you're participating in a well-documented trend.

You say: "I am doing it because I love my boyfriend, love sex and want to try as many flavors as I can in order to establish my likes and dislikes."

It's entirely possible to love your boyfriend and love sex without shaving or having anal sex. You CHOOSE to do those things as an expression of love and because you find them erotic and exciting. The question is: why do those things represent love and eroticism to you? Where did you and your boyfriend first see them and start associating them with arousal and enjoyment? Porn, right?

As for trying as many flaovrs as you can, yeah, go for it! Experimentation is always fun, and teaches us a lot (and porn can often provide inspiration for things to try).

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

I felt like you, but :)

hi, i'm 30 now and i am finally realizing what went wrong with some sexual experiences among the ones i have had as teenager. me too i was freely willing to try as many flavors as i could to establish my likes and dislikes, but i unexpectedly found my self more inhibited and insecure after those experiences. of course i am not saying that it will happen to you too! but i just thought that it might be useful to share my experience as i think we have something in common. one of the probably infinite way our stories differ is that while you explore sex within a stable love relationship, i sometimes did it within occasional sexual encounters, thinking that i could learn great sex anyway and could use the experience to boost supposedly future love relationships.

so, what was wrong is this: as free as i could feel, i or the people i was having sex with, probably weren't that liberated, and there was something in the way they were having sex with me that was not considerate and not respectful.
sure, kids are not stupid and are not automatically fooled by pornography, but unfortunately lots of people around us and lots of pornography is still very far from considering, and considering in a respectful manner, women's sexuality. the "women who likes it are sluts" is often subtle and implicit, often it passes in an unaware way, together with the relaxing of taboos. and the reason why someone may wanna try something with you are often not as beautiful as your will for exploration.

the irony of my story is that, when i could finally experience great sex in a great love relationship, it has been a whole completely new learning experience! so now i think that there is not such a thing as moves/zones/positions i like or dislike, because what makes most of the difference is just how and with who. many times i did something in order to "try", and whether it was with someone i loved or not, there was something very basic missing, and it is something that should never miss in sex.

can we talk about something ELSE now, please?

4+ posts and still no mention of abstinence only education. yup, porn is definitely your strongest perpetrator, and it certainly reaches far more children and adolescents across the US than the fucked up messages of AOE. to the point where it justifies four posts (plus comments!) rhapsodizing on the harm porn has caused adolescent and young adult sexuality and not a glance thrown in the direction of this popular "education" method that makes an appearance in many of america's schools.

a+ becky sharper, thanks so much.

correlation = causation for the win.

anecdotal evidence (which you seem to rely on rather heavily) isn't really helpful. perhaps you should start with a little, oh i dunno, research, and then get back to us.

look, i'll even start you off. try beginning with this book:

http://sealpress.com/book.php?isbn=9781580052535

I don't know if you read the post

But there was quoted and linked-to research from, among others, the CDC, the American Journal of Public Health and The Hutchinson Center. And yes, I do discuss personal experiences when when I'm talking about sex, because personal experience--my own and others'--is completely relevant (unless one is writing about sex from a purely scientific, academic point of view, which obviously I'm not, given that I'm a blogger for Bitch, not a psychologist from the Kinsey Institute).

As for abstinence-only education, I don't think that's the reason an increasing number of people--especially adults--having anal sex. And if you're a teen in an abstinence-only class, I can guarantee you're not hearing any discussion--let alone eroticization--of anal intercourse.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

This brings up an

This brings up an interesting point, perhaps not the one the commenter intended, but...Becky I'm interested to know if you've ever thought about abstinence from a sex positive feminist type of perspective. I mean, in some ways it seems like "not having sex" is an option that has been completely co-opted by the abstinence only sex ed types, and exists only as a purely moral decision. I'm struck by the absence of discussion of abstinence from a sex positive feminist perspective. True, there's an aversion to sex only education. And true there's often understanding for people who are completely asexual. But isn't it also important to reframe not having sex in sex positive terms? I don't hold you personally responsible for this, of course. You can blog about what you like. It's your blog. In strange way,though, in all of these discussions you've started (at least on Bitch) about sex, it seems like you've revealed the most taboo option in the minds of many sex positive folks is not to have sex.

I hadn't thought of it that way...

That's actually very thought-provoking. I can't say I ever considered writing about abstinence in a sex and relationship blog, because I just presumed that, well, if the blog's about sex it can't be about the absence of sex--the editors of Gourmet don't write about fasting either. And I guess I always thought that while people invariably like reading about sex, they aren't particularly interested in reading about no sex.

But now that you mention it, I think you're right and my thinking on that was kind of narrow-minded and limiting. Yes, there should definitely be room for discussion of abstinence in a sex-positive feminist forum.

So yeah, that would be a good future blog post. Anyone with opinions or personal stories on this, e-mail 'em to me at [email protected].

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Jordanb, Was just surfing

Jordanb,
Was just surfing and I found your post--SO right on and thought provoking and intelligent!
I too think that not having sex without the moral imperative IS the most taboo--I've experienced that from everyone from my healthcare pros to all my friends and acquaintances. It usually ends with a lame--well you just haven't met the right person (seen plenty of action); or well, you're entitled to your own choice...
Yesterday, I thought: having sex is like asking someone to scratch your back, in a spot you CAN reach yourself.

I've searched without success for a blog/group of celibates who are NOT religious--impossible to find.
Shall we start our own?
Again, THANKS for the well-thought out and timely post.

Howard Stern

I blame/credit Howard Stern for the popularization of anal sex among heterosexuals. Maybe he was influenced by porn, but he got into the mainstream via his radio show (which was also televised on the E! network). There were a few questions he posed to virtually ALL of his female guests: (1) Have you ever had anal sex? (2) Have you ever done it with a black guy [or a white guy, if his guest was black]? And, if the answer to (2) was in the affirmative, (3) Who's better/bigger, black guys or white guys?

Anal Sex in Porn

Although I'm 25, I was taught that there were certain sex acts one should never do; chief among them engaging in oral sex or anal sex, which of course includes a ban on mouth-to-anus contact since its a combination of the two. As I became more knowledgable in matters related to sex and my sexuality in particular, I re-thought my views on sex.

One of the things I did not have to rethink was anal sex.

Unfortunately, my first encounter with it was having it forced on me. The shock of having someone - without prior conversation or consent on my part - going where no man had gone before (or after) made me ill later. I was in physical pain for days and emotional pain for a year. I couldn't understand how something that had once been so taboo was now expected of young women. Sometime afterwards, some friends got me some porn as a gag gift which made me understand what had been going through that man's mind.

Heterosexual pornography utilizes women as waxen sex dolls devoid of emotion, pain, or true pleasure. How many times are women in porn subjected to rough "face fucking," practically choking on one or more penises being shoved into their mouths? How often are the men involved leering at the women on film with a mix of contempt/disgust? How many times is saliva used as the SOLE lubricant before intercourse? Even the names of porno flicks show a women's "place", e.g. "A Load in Every Hole" or "10 Man Cum Slam." Woman = hole to stick your dick in. That the camera angles on these unfortunate young women are so close you can actually see deep inside of them after an encounter makes me feel like I'm watching an episode of "ER", where an accident victim's gaping wounds are on display for the world to see.

I'm not against pornography - I own some and will probably buy more in the future. Nor am I against anal sex - between 2 loving and responsible people, it can be an intimate and pleasurable experience for both. What I don't like is that the inclusion of "ass pounding" into the new American girls' catalog of sexual obligations that has made girls and women who do not consent to this type of activity into social pariahs.

Thank you, Bitch, for keeping us ALL aware of the threats to our freedoms.

porn, doing anal right, and self-respect

Having read the follow up to this post, I had to come back and look this one up.

I can appreciate the surveys, etc, which demonstrate a rising tide of anal sex. I have trouble saying that monolithic, capital-p Porn is entirely responsible for it, though I'm sure it has a role. Anal sex used to, a very long time ago, be referred to as "the Greek way" because it was popular in ancient Greece. Ancient pre-Inca pottery from Andes depicts a range of sexual acts, from heterosexual anal intercourse to homosexual intercourse to bestiality to oral sex. Anal sex is not by any means new or newly popular, in the sense that it predates this supposed monolithic Porn industry significantly. The public admission or interest in it may have risen, but pron has a) existed for centuries, and b) is an extremely dynamic field, as with any cultural arena. As I'm sure has been pointed out, what we stereotype as mainstream porn is really not all that mainstream any more. It may be time to revise our stereotypes of what 'average' porn entails. There's still plenty of god-awful stuff out there (Bum-bangers 12, anyone?), but things do seem to be looking up.

In terms of anal pleasure for women, I can tell you it's entirely possible with only the slightest consideration and brains involved on the male's part. Rather than using the victim persona to categorize these women, as victims of bad porn and pushy men, let's add some agency to the equation and step back. Women need to be able to understand that if they're dating someone who pushes things on them, makes demands in the bedroom, and makes them feel unsexy for not trying X Y or Z, they need to get out of that relationship. In the western world, we women are privileged in that we of all women in this world can say no, and men know this. Girls, if you're dating a douchebag, ditch him. If he's interested in anal, tell him to go do his research on doing it right and then (IF this is something that does interest you) come back and woo you. If it isn't something you want, or it has bad experiences attached to it, tell him this and explain why - if there's any respect in the relationship, both ways, you deserve to speak up and he deserves an honest answer. Furthermore, it's not difficult if you read up on doing it well. If he can't give you a fair and respectful approach to anal sex after you've talked about it like grown-ups, then you need to reconsider your relationship because honey, you deserve SO much better!
As for blaming men's apparent lack of research skills (or brain cells, when it comes to pushing for anal) entirely on Porn, let's think about it in a bigger context. If women in our culture are vulnerable enough to self-image issues that a pushy dude with a hard-on can strongarm them into bad anal sex experiences, then we have bigger self-confidence issues as a sex. Ladies, we need to fix our own self esteem issues too, so that sex can be on more even turf.

My first boyfriend that I was intimate with, and yes, we were young (but in a stable relationship, for which I'm grateful!) was actually the best-'read' person I've met in terms of porn. And it was actually because he had watched such a wide array or porn that we were able to explore a vibrant array of sexual experiences (yes, inspired by our common pop culture exposure to sex) in a way that never ever required anything other than honesty and respect. I realize I was really lucky in this way, but since then I have not dated or slept with a single guy who has been anythign but respectful and very fun in the bedroom. Be picky girls, there are a lot of good ones out there! And now, after having been through a few, I've found that i really, really enjoy anal sex. Sometimes it's how I get off on my own, and sometimes it's with my partner. There are a million nerve endings there and it can be wonderful. And you know what? He occasionally likes a finger on his prostate, but frankly I prefer receivign anal to giving it, hands down.

I know a lot of girls get bad first times where the butt is concerned, and for the life of me I can't figure out why these guys don't put more effort into making it fun and appealing (it'd make sense for them to, wouldn't it??). My dear friend and old roommate has had a few experiences with a guy deciding, without giving notice or talking about it first or asking permission or using lube or preparing her in any way, that it was a godo iea to try anal sex. Having met most of these men, who were mostly quite bright, kind people, I am still at a loss. All I can say is make sure you have a relationship with good open communication, and honesty, and if he's not treating you right in bed or out, leave (if talking it out doesn't work of course).

One last thought: reciprocity doesn't have to mean tit for tat. In a sexual relationship, it should mean both people are satisfied and no one feels like they've been required to give more than they wanted to. Balance, harmony, or fairness might be good words to use. Above all, so long as communication is clear, there's nothing wrong with having preferences or differing (often compatible) likes.

price of the taboo

i have only recently realized that i have been raped. it took me awhile to realize this, b/c it didn't look like rape. there was no struggle or fight. my boyfriend at the time had expressed an interest in anal sex (physically) and i indicated (physically) that i was not interested. nonetheless, without warning one time he went ahead and went up my ass. it was a horrible experience - to have someone you were romantically interested in - do that to you without your permission - and there was an intense physical and emotional cost. what i felt immediately was intense shame. intense shame that my vagina was not good enough that he went elsewhere. he preferred my ass to my vagina. physically, i bled and have suffered hemorrhoids that may or may not be related (hemorrhoids in your mid-twenties??)

i think this occurred in part b/c he was ashamed of his desires, and couldn't talk about them. i hope our maturity and ability to talk about sex catches up with all of the "education" we are getting from porn.

I definitely have to say

I definitely have to say that when I am in a relationship, I really get off on him getting off, but he also gets off on me getting off. I wouldn't have it any other way. I always thought that guys get off on women getting off anyway, like watching a woman masturbate. I always fantasize about a guy masturbating. It's hot!

I shave my crotch because it just feels cleaner and I enjoy presenting myself this way and vice versa. I don't like hairy ass balls. I believe in manscaping. See my cause on facebook below. 51 members as of today...he he!

http://apps.facebook.com/causes/414339/53428931?m=1a240be5

Anyway as far as cumshots go, that is probably what I'm into most when it cums to watching porn (lol). Yet, if I'm cumming or squirting in his face, he thinks it's hot and so do I. I wouldn't have it any other way. As far as FFM threesomes I can understand the fantasy. I fantasize about two men. I do understand though that men cringe at that thanks to stigma that society has created which leaves most men close minded to female fantasies.

Renegade Bitch!
AKA Wicked Bitch of the Best!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against anal sex, but I've heard a lot of stories when a girl was raped being in relationship, they were forced to suffer a SEVERE PAIN associated with this act....
If you don't know what kind of preparation is involved, you are four ways from stupid. And not asking, when she had said no before. The guy deserves to have his dick handed to him in a bag

I feel like people here are

I feel like people here are accepting porn merely so they can be labelled progressive feminists. The fact is there is an extremely fine line between "acceptable" porn and porn that can be considered degrading. I am amazed when I visit a porn site (about once a month) how much porn has changed just in that month. Every time I am left with more extreme and degrading videos than the time before. The ads on the sites are amazingly degrading with chocking, dp, and hardcore anal sex, and this is the popular free sites like youporn and redtube.

Porn is not interested in a love story. In porn, lust and money is the motivator for the sexual act, not love. When you have people (who probably barely know each other) having sex for a screen, it will necessarily be a degrading experience for both actors involved. Degrading in that both people are being used only for their body parts. Because they are not having sex out of an expression of love, porn is degrading to even the watcher, appealing only to our animal nature. If you believe sex can be anything more than a purely physical, sensual experience, you are doing a great disservice to people and the act of sex itself by accepting porn. Please don't be offended by any porn if you think some porn is fine. It's merely levels of degradation we're talking about and you seem only to be offended at the most egregious. Do not be offended by more teenage girls having anal sex. Do not be offended by the increase in sexism among men both in porn videos and in society. Do not be offended by the view of girls as sluts when you have already accepted a world in which they are in pornography. To all women--you're not doing anything for women by accepting porn, believe me. Don't accept porn out of some rebellion for our "prude" Protestant past or out of some smug modern feminist theory when you know in your heart it's wrong and a corrupting influence. Sorry for such a taboo standpoint, I no it is quite offensive.

late comment

I found this blog doing a google search for "why is there so much anal sex in porn". I'm a male and I'm socially awkward and sexually inexperienced. I've gotten most of my "experience" vicariously through porn, and I'd say a lot of guys do. In the few sexual relationships I've had, the sex was nothing like it is in porn. The women were ambiguous or unaware of what aroused them, very particular about what they wouldn't do, and rarely if ever had orgasms. I usually blamed this on myself, thinking I'm horrible in bed, always seem to be horny when they aren't and don't get hard often enough when they are, fuck too hard or too soft, come too fast, don't do cunnilingus correctly, dick is not big enough, too big, etc. I went out and bought various books about how to satisfy a woman in bed and tried all the stuff, and it didn't make a lot of difference. The sex was always somewhat unsatisfying and left me bewildered.

My point is that porn is fantasy. Maybe for some (lucky) guys, they are able to live it out a bit. In porn, the guys are studs and can go on forever, the women are mostly submissive, do all kinds of kinky stuff and can't get enough. It's the kind of sex that makes a guy feel great like he just conquered the world. In real life that rarely happens, if ever. Porn does not reflect reality. Reality for a lot of guys who are into porn is feeling inadequate and getting bitched at, and feeling unable to communicate.

I'd imagine that reality is more true than ever, which might explain all the anal sex. This is only my speculation of course but it's true in my case and seemingly a lot of guys I know.

I kind of agree. I don't

I kind of agree.

I don't know what it's like for young people growing up with it, but for me anal porn was a fantasy that became more and more of a draw compared to how my real sex life was - infrequent and entirely focused on trying to please her, which is what I was assured growing up was what women wanted and would make them enjoy and desire sex as much as I did.

Of course it was - and is - a disaster.

If people want to offer an alternative to the 'use women to get off' model of sex they need to offer something that actually leads to a lot of sex. Because to be honest I hardly know of anyone who is having a lot of see where it's NOT quite dominant/ submissive.

aa

sex is going to make both men and women curious about it and more likely to try it. No harm there--that's certainly how and why I decided to try it.

feminist backlash

The feminist backlash I see is so well-represented in porn. I do not enjoy porn unless I am completely non-apathetic to my own gender, or have the temporary ability to view the females in their roles as wrong people who deserve the pain they are undergoing. Porn is not made for women. If it was, there would be far better porn out there! The titles alone are enough to determine porn is against women's pleasure. "18 & abused" has got to be the most offensive and disgusting I can recall off the top of my head, because it (in my opinion) is glorifying pedophelia and rape. The fact that an 18 year old chiild can consent to being gang-raped by 5 men old enough to be her father is disturbing, & any man willing to defend this as her own choice as a grown woman needs to make an effort (allbeit a small one) to consider how they would feel if they had a daughter that consented to be treated as merely an assembly of body parts to "destroy" in porn's own use of the language.
I detest that our young people are being so wrongly taken advantage of, & all in plain view without denial whatsoever.

Not sure I agree

I am a 20 year old female who grew up in the country in the south. My first boyfriend and I talked about sex for a long time (months) before we actually did it. We were both inept at it. I didn't really know what to do with his junk. And he really didn't seem to know what to do with mine or his. I tried to show him what I found pleasurable. And we explored to find out what we liked and didn't like together. I eventually brought up anal sex for discussion. And we talked about it for almost a year before we tried it.

We both researched anal sex and then talked about what we had learned. I had some misgivings about having sex where I eliminated and had heard stories about anal sex causing some problems with defecation as well as hemorrhoids So, we researched that, too. Once my fears were addressed and he made sure that I knew he was supportive of those fears, we decided to go ahead with doing the preparation and then trying it.

I'm very glad that we were as careful as we were in our research. Our first attempt was rather short-lived since my main objective then was to just test the waters and not go full-bore into it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my fears were unfounded and that the experience was quite pleasurable once I got used to the sensations. The use of progressively larger items to get my muscles to relax took time, but I think was the right way for me. I did some of that on my own without my boyfriend being present. I found that I liked those enough to incorporate them into my masturbation.

That first anal encounter was four years ago. I was 16 when we tried it and 15 when we started researching it. We were already sexually active with penis/vagina intercourse on a regular basis by then. Our birth control consisted of my monitoring my cervical mucus so that I knew when I was ovulating, him pulling out prior to ejaculation, and my insistence he always wear a condom for intercourse. I have never had a pregnancy scare.

I very much enjoy anal sex. It is NOT as it is portrayed in porn. My boyfriend does not "pound" me anally but we do get rather energetic with it at times. Oddly enough, I've found that I enjoy anal sex as much as vaginal. My boyfriend says he prefers my vagina. Perhaps because he doesn't have to be as careful not to harm me.

Much is made of the fact that anal sex requires a lot of lubrication since my anus does not self-lubricate and that this is often not seen in porn. Well, my boyfriend and I recently (two months ago) watched a video wherein a girl was "auditioning" to become a porn actress and she had to film a scene with a man who had a long thick penis that was fully erect and he just plunged it into her and pounded her mercilessly despite her obvious grunts of pain and her trying to move away from him. It was obvious to me that she was not aroused from observing her labia that the main's penis remained dry. Yet he kept pounding her and when she would push him away to stop him, she simply man-handled her into a new position and continued pounding her.

No, her pleasure was of no concern to the people making that video. Her obvious pain didn't seem to matter at all, either as she made grunts, gasps and whimpers. She never said "stop". How she stood that for over ten minutes, I cannot fathom. I know I couldn't. At the end, when it was finally over, she had tears in her eyes and her labia were raw looking but her vulva was not blood engorged as it would be if she were aroused. She remained dry throughout the scene which was filmed non-stop with one camera over a little more than ten minutes. The man pounding her didn't offer her any lubricant or even attempt to lubricate himself with his saliva. The "model" did at least try to put some of her saliva on herself when he would pull out of her. I wondered if the people filming that video had any idea of how a woman's vagina works or why and when it produces lubrication.

By the end, I was in tears at her plight as she was treated so roughly by that man. I would never subject myself to that kind of torture for a job. Not even if they paid me $10k a "scene" to have sex. Not with monsters like that man. We haven't watched any porn, now, for almost two months. And I don't miss it.

One other thing I've read bothered me. It was about that sex-ed only teaches about penis/vagina sex. Well, that's because that's the only way you can get pregnant. And MY sex-ed class was called "Human Reproduction". No room there for those other kinds of sex. It was about how babies are made and how to prevent it as well as how to avoid spreading venereal diseases. It was not a course on human sexuality. Save that for another class. I don't know any homosexuals getting pregnant or anyone getting pregnant from oral or anal sex. And teen pregnancy IS a big problem in our country.

I shave my pubic area and always have ever since it started to grow hair. I don't like hair down there. I prefer my bare smooth skin. It feels better to me and I feel more clean. I keep it shaved even when I don't shave my legs or even my pits.

My desire to learn about anal sex arose from looking at myself in a mirror and wondering what it would feel like to have my boyfriend's penis in there. I don't know where he got the idea. But I broached the idea to him. He never pressured me about it.

I had never seen porn at that point. I saw my first porno when I was 17. I just had no curiosity about porn. I much prefer exploring my boyfriend's body and how we can please each other during sex. I still read about my anatomy and a man's and am trying to learn as much as I can so I can think of new ideas. I am currently enrolled as a biology major at University of Georgia in Athens. I am pre-med.

Poignantly Ironic

"We must teach teen girls and young women how to be assertive in sexual relationships, such as refusing unwanted sexual acts and negotiating for safer sex, whether it's anal or vaginal."

I'm not digging the inescapable irony of the author using the verb "negotiating" here. Strike anyone else?