Part two of a three-part series on anal sex
Hayley Gray, The Sex Collective
Anus. Anal sex. Rimming. Have I made you uncomfortable yet?
Well, you’re not alone: anal sex is one of the most socially stigmatized sexual activities, and has been for hundreds of years. The sexual revolution has happened, so why are we still hung up about our backsides? To answer this question, I recommend that we take an existential viewpoint on anal sex acts.
In Denials of Death, Ernest Becker writes that “the anus and its incomprehensible, repulsive product represents not only physical determinism and boundness, but the fate as well of all that is physical: decay and death.”
According to Becker, we are uncomfortable with the existence of our anuses because they force us to acknowledge our “creatureliness.” Our bodies are not merely mechanisms which carry our brains, but instead are living, dying organisms that—to put it frankly—eat, shit and reproduce, like everything else.
Now that’s a hard pill to swallow, and none of us do in totality. Especially in academia, we see ourselves as creating art, literature, scientific discoveries, and political developments that are important. We make friends, social connections and eventually families. Becker would state that we act in these ways to deny death, and our eventual irrelevance to the living world which outlasts us.
There is no more direct example of such decay than that which is created by our bodies. It is not universal, but it is natural for us to feel uncomfortable about anything to do with our, or our lovers’, backsides. So if you are a sex-positive individual who isn’t comfortable with or interested in anal play, don’t beat yourself up about it.
On the flip side, if you’re into anal play and don’t like how your friends, peers, classmates etc. lewdly mock it, just consider yourself to be existentially more aware of your creatureliness.
If you’re interested in anal sex but your lover is not, then respect that difference. (Though it couldn’t hurt to pass this column along—hopefully it will open up discussion around their feelings towards anal play.) Perhaps, through talking, you can agree to try some anal acts that you’d both be into. If you can’t come to a resolution with your partner, give solo play a try: at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own orgasms.
I call them anal sex ‘acts’ because that is what anal play is: a variety of acts. Mainstream sex media would have us believe that anal penetration with no lubrication or build-up is all there is to anal sex.
I recently attended an anal sex talk hosted by Maggie Haywood, owner of Halifax’s Venus Envy: Haywood described anal sex acts as following a continuum from stroking, massaging, rimming, mild penetration of small objects (fingers, dildos etc) and finally full penetration.
“For some people, external play is all they really want out of ass play,” Haywood said. No matter what level of play you are engaging in, Haywood emphasizes that the three most important things to keep in mind with anal sex are relaxation, lubrication, and communication. I would also add condoms or dental dams.
For a full how-to education on anal sex acts, I would recommend heading down to Venus Envy, where their lovely staff will point you in the right direction. If you’re shy, you can start doing your homework from behind your computer screen: sexualhealth.com or at scarleteen.com both have great, respectful advice about approaching and enjoying anal sex.
According to Haywood, anal play is becoming one of the biggest trends in the sex toy business, people of all gender and sexual identities are taking a greater interest in their butts (yes, even heterosexual men). Maybe it’s time to throw out the social stigma associated with anal sex and develop a more inclusive understanding of our bodies and ourselves.