Social norms and expectations are a constant subject of change and evolution. Sexual stigma and what we find to be an acceptable and healthy part of our “intimate diet” are things that, luckily, get re-written. This brings us to anal play and the notion that enjoying it makes someone a slut.
There’s a popular perception that anal sex is not for “good girls”, that they don’t do it, or at least never initiate it. The common narrative goes like this: women don’t like anal sex, it’s something that men want of them, and if it ever ends up happening, women are often coerced into it, or agree to do it just for the sake of fulfilling that “male fantasy”.
That narrative is not only untrue, but problematic on several levels. At the outset, it raises huge issues about consent, and feeds into the toxic model of masculinity (for instance: that men have bigger libido than women, that men coerce women into engaging in certain activities in the bedroom, etc.). The idea that women don’t enjoy anal sex also disempowers them and takes away their sexual agency as beings with their own sexual desires and complex sexuality.
There are several major myths that contribute to the stigma that comes with anal play for women. One of them is the myth of pain. Anal sex and butt play shouldn't hurt if it’s done right. Think of butt play as a marathon, not a sprint; of choosing the right size toy, or the proper number of fingers to be inserted; of taking things slowly and using a good amount of lubricant. All of these are key to positive experiences.
The misconception of pain during anal play leads some to think that only people into BDSM do it. While anal sex or butt toys can be a fun part of kinky play, people who enjoy pain don’t derive pain through anal sex. They most often participate in impact play (spanking, whipping, caning) instead (and they also have strict protocols about safety and consent, of course).
Another reason people find anal play shameful is that nobody talks openly about butt stuff! Anal sex gets all the bad rep, and none of the praise. If we find most of the examples of women enjoying anal play in porn, and not in mainstream media or conversations, it’s no wonder that we link “taking it in the butt” with something taboo.
And let’s not kid ourselves. Anal sex was illegal under sodomy laws in 13 states until 2003*. Until the Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, ten of these states prohibited not only anal, but oral sex as well, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, or the consent of the participants. And while we’re making huge steps in the right direction, it takes time to get to a place of greater acceptance and understanding.
Luckily, the actual picture of what people find pleasurable in their bedroom is very different from this common narrative. While couples might not talk about it with other people, they certainly engage in butt play. And the main reason is that it feels good!
There are more and more people beginning their journey of sexual exploration and experimentation. And, for some, anal sex might be the only option to engage in penetrative sex or to experience pleasure.
Often, women can’t (or are advised not to) have vaginal sex while, say, undergoing medical treatment, during a yeast infection, a UTI, or vaginismus.
Additionally, it’s an unspoken fact that antidepressant and antianxiety drugs can lead to sexual side effects such as genital numbness and inability to achieve orgasm via clitoral stimulation or vaginal penetration. While we still don’t know why that is, often women report that their ability to enjoy anal sex and climax through anal stimulation is less affected by medication.
Don’t buy into what the outside world tells you to enjoy nor succumb to someone else’s beliefs about what should feel good for your body. You might really enjoy anal play- or you might not. AND THAT’S OK. Give yourself permission to experience pleasure on your terms.
Because after all- pleasure is your birthright.
- Alicia Sinclair