A Butt Plug Entrepreneur Talks About Destigmatizing Anal Pleasure
With 20 years total in the adult industry, sex educator Alicia Sinclair has founded a number of innovative startups in the sex toy space, including Le Wand (a vibrator similar to the Hitachi Magic Wand, except it’s unabashed about its status as a sex toy), the premium sex machine The Cowgirl, and perhaps most notably, the anal toy company B-Vibe, which emphasizes its relevance to all bodies and people through gender-neutral coloring and its “everybody has a butt” campaign highlighting diverse models.
We talked to Sinclair about her interest in the anal toy market, the myths out there about anal pleasure, and what to know if you’re interested in exploring this part of your body yourself.
What issues in the anal toy space were you aiming to rectify when you started B-Vibe?
I just saw that the way that anal toys were marketed and sold and designed — we’re talking about six years ago when we founded B-Vibe — there was just a lack of information. Everything looked like it was designed in small pink or large black butt plugs. I just felt like the entire category needed a refresh. It was really lacking thoughtful innovation and education and marketing. I felt like that wasn’t meeting a modern consumer and not appealing to a variety of people who use anal products, so really, just a hole, if you will, in the marketplace.
What myths about anal pleasure are you hoping to debunk?
I think there’s a big misconception and a lot of social stigma in general. There’s a lot of common narratives: one, anal sex is only for gay men. Two, anal sex is something women do in a heterosexual dynamic only as something to pleasure their man; it’s not something they do for their own pleasure.
People, especially in the anal sphincter, share the same nerve endings. We share a lot in common. Inside, there are differences, but externally, there are a lot of sensations. So it was to broaden people’s perspectives and change how people think of this sex act and sexuality in general.
You don’t normally hear about anal sex as something done for someone with a vulva. What makes it pleasurable for someone with this anatomy?
The entry to the anal sphincter actually has four thousand nerve endings — half as many as the clitoris and the same amount as the head of the penis — so that area can provide a lot of pleasure, which is why people like things like rimming and external anal massage. That’s a very sensitive area, so that’s something we all share, whatever body type we have. Inside the anal canal, you experience pleasure in many different ways if you have a vagina. The anal and vaginal canal are next-door neighbours. There’s only a thin separation between the two, so if you put something in the anal canal, that’s really the same space — if you put a dildo or penis in there and you’re feeling that pleasure that points in toward the vaginal canal.
The clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg, and that's a huge internal structure. You have areas that are parts of the internal clitoris that stimulate specific areas like the ‘A-spot’ that can be really pleasurable. There’s also ongoing evidence that folks that take depression medication lose sensation in the vaginal canal but not in the anal canal, so that can be an alternative way to experience pleasure.
What other misconceptions about the anus are out there?
Another misconception is that anal sex has to equal pain. But actually, if you think of the way you discover pleasure in your front stuff, you probably start touching yourself as a young child, then maybe play with another person in adolescence. So you probably gradually experiment for a long time before experiencing penetration. We kind of do the opposite with anal penetration — we don’t experiment. We don't go slow and we often don’t use lubricant, and there's pain.
What advice do you have for people just beginning to experiment with anal pleasure?
Experiment and play with yourself first. You want to start with something about the size of a finger. You can actually use your own finger. It’s literally the best sex toy, and playing solo so you’re both the giver and receiver is literally the best way to start. You get control and depth at the same time. Also, lubricant is important. The anal canal is not self-lubricating, so you’re going to feel something like burning if you don’t use lubricant, so don’t skip it – and spit is not lube. Go slow, start small, and use lube!