The Good, the Bad and the Anal
Even in seemingly progressive countries, the mere mention of anal sex is still enough to raise eyebrows. For women, it's an act often linked to slut-shaming. For men, it seems that a fondness for butt stuff somehow diminishes their masculinity – a fact proven by Amber Rose last year, who responded to public insults by labeling Kanye West a #fingersinthebootyassbitch. The hashtag trended, the rapper vehemently denied it.
But why? Why, in a world where 50 Shades of Grey's admittedly beige depiction of BDSM can go mainstream, is there still shame and stigma attached to anal?
The first argument is linked to sexism which still – despite some progress – plagues societal attitudes. Men have been told their entire lives that they need to be dominant, to exert their masculinity; the implication here is that being penetrated makes them submissive and, therefore, less of a man. As we all know, this is bullshit.
It's also a stigma which is literally discouraging men from exploring and attempting to intensify their own orgasms. The male G-spot is also known as the prostate, which means that a finger slid in before climax can make things amazing. Properly amazing. Obviously, it's not for everyone, but sex-positivity, trust and, of course, consent could prove to be a winning combination for plenty of couples if only people loosened up – literally and figuratively – about anal.
Butt stuff is also political. In over 70 countries worldwide, sodomy is still punishable by law because of its obvious link to homosexuality. Even comparatively liberal countries like the United Kingdom still hold certain opinions – a government-issued document last year made headlines for its description of anal as an evil which teenagers should be shielded from. There was even questionable wording which implied that it is always 'unwanted' – which, I can say from personal experience, is absolutely, definitely, unequivocally not true.
In terms of anecdotal evidence, it seems that many people are still cautious or afraid of anal. Friends hear friends' whispers that it's unusually painful, or that it can be messy, or that male partners often push for anal without trying to understand the justifiable worries that come alongside being properly fucked in the ass. As great as it can be, the concerns are obvious – the vagina and mouth self-lubricate, the asshole does not.
It goes without saying that there are ways around this. With the right emphasis on cleanliness, a heavy amount of lube and plenty of clear communication, anal can be incredible. Increasingly, ass play is becoming less linked to homosexuality, too. As our cultural knowledge of queerness expands, the straightforward oppositional categories of 'top' and 'bottom' are beginning to seem less and less relevant; an openness to sexual experimentation also means that penetration isn't always the end goal.
Touching, rubbing, oral and mutual masturbation aretried-and-tested classics, a fact which is obvious but worthy of reinforcement. After all, we place so much emphasis on words like virginity and intercourse which mean different things to different people; if he goes down on you, are you still a virgin? More importantly, who actually cares?
The point is not that we should all go and have as much anal as possible – although if you're sex-positive and up for it then absolutely go, lube up, stay safe and have as much anal as you like. You deserve it.
The point is that we should stop seeing ass-play as being any different from oral, or fingering, or any other kind of sexual activity that we presumably never stop and question. It doesn't make you less masculine, or more promiscuous, or somehow more provocative than anybody else – if you're lucky enough to be able to try it out with someone you trust implicitly, it could open you up to the best orgasm of your life.