Rich with History and Nerve Endings.....The Stigmatized History of @n@l S&x
Anal sex has likely been around since the dawn of time, just like any other form of sexual activity - so why is it viewed as taboo today? Last Anal August we shared posts on our social media about the history of anal sex and in this blog post we will penetrate deeper into this past to discuss how it affects our present perceptions. Let’s talk about it!
Some things are considered taboo, not necessarily for any rational reason, but due to cultural influences. This is especially true of the anus in 2022. Although I would argue that western society’s perceptions of anal sex are slowly thawing from the previous century or so, we aren’t ready to fully embrace the asshole.
Our language around this area is a good example of how we haven’t completely warmed to it yet. Calling someone an asshole, in the place of rude or selfish, shows that deep down we think this is a bad word and dirty body part. You don’t want to be called an asshole, but you definitely do not want to be without one. We call someone anal if they show certain tendencies like cleanliness, which is odd because part of the stigma surrounding anal sex comes from the myth that it is dirty.
In ancient Babylonia, citizens practiced anal sex as a means of contraception. The ancient Greeks enjoyed anal and it is reported that they used olive oil as lubricant for it. The Moche civilization of Peru is assumed to have also celebrated anal sex because it is frequently depicted on their erotic pottery. So why don’t we share these same views today?
Many things have contributed to the stigmatized view we have of anal sex. The increased influence of the catholic church spread the religion’s belief that any sexual activity which was not done for reproductive reasons was sinful. During the Middle Ages, sodomy (anal sex) was condemned. Prior to colonization, Indigenous people practiced an array of sexual activities and relational structures without stigma. Colonial forces worked to erase any type of sexual expression that did not maintain their social hierarchies of race, gender, class, religion, and sexuality. Sexual control has always been important in maintaining white supremecy.
These beliefs and structures were reinforced by sexuality education in the 20th century, where any activities that did not contribute to building up the white nuclear family were taught to be bad, sinful, dirty, and unpatriotic. These narratives were escalated in the 1980’s during the HIV/AIDs crisis, where it was initially believed that only gay men who engaged in anal intercourse could be diagnosed with HIV. Some claimed the epidemic was a direct result of the looser sexual morals the sexual revolution of the previous decade brought.
We are still recovering from these incredibly loud and damaging narratives about anal sex today. It can be hard to unlearn things that were taught by the dominant voices in society for centuries. Still today, there is a general uneasiness about the anus. There is tension between anal sex and masculinity. Big butts are sometimes celebrated and are sometimes the subject of fatphobic and racist comments. In America, 11 states still have sodomy laws. However in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that acting on these laws and prohibiting private anal sexual activity was unconstitutional.
Today, messages like “the anus is dirty” or “anal sex is supposed to be painful”, contribute to the continued stigma. Although the anus is associated with excretion, it is not dirty! It can be helpful to know that fecal matter typically sits higher up in the digestive tract than your average sex toy or body part can reach. Eating foods you know agree with your system a day or so in advance plus a quick shower before engaging in anal sex may also help you feel more comfortable and clean. Additionally, anal sex should not hurt. It can be painful if you are doing too much, too fast, but using lots of lube, checking in with partners, and starting slow & small can help make your experience pleasurable.
From Alfred Kinsey’s reports demonstrating that more people engage in anal intercourse than you might think, to greater acceptance of the LGBTQ2S+ community, to pop culture references of pegging and songs about the wonders of the butt - many influences are helping to open up our perceptions towards the anus today. Possibly, a contribution to people being more open to explore anal activities now is because it is slightly taboo, and it can be exciting to do things that are “wrong”, right?
It is our hope that the taboo around anal sex diminishes as time goes on. It is not dirty or sinful or an indicator of sexual orientation. Butts are rich with nerve-endings and stimulation in this area can feel nice for people with all sorts of different body parts!
At the Traveling Tickle Trunk we have a couple rules for engaging in anal sexual activity. 1. Use lots of lube! 2. If you are using a toy, make sure it has a flared base. 3. Always always always practice consent and do not engage in anal sex if your partner does not want to. You do not have to have anal sex if you do not want to.
However, if you would like to and you would like to learn more, tune into our Instagram stories this week to catch TTT staff members sharing answers to FAQs about anal sex! If you miss it, don’t worry, our answers will be saved in our highlights. We would also love to see you at the store and answer any questions you may have about anal toys and appropriate lubricants. Thanks for reading, happy Anal August to those who celebrate!