Why do many heterosexual men want to have anal sex with their female spouses, girlfriends, or lovers? Is it because of increased access to porn? Is it a dominance thing, fetish, or a bucket list item?

By: | Post date: November 7, 2016 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture

An A2A on subject matter I have no personal experience of, from Mary Gignilliat.

This is going to be another one of those “only because you A2A’d me and I like you” questions. If you keep them coming though, I’m going to have to start calling you Mezza.

(Mezza is, believe it or not, the Australian slang form of Mary. We’re a weird mob.)


The answer is not going to break new ground over what everyone else has said; it’s a synthesis. I’m going to take the same approach to it I take to other questions I have no personal experience of, like say Will the Norn language see a successful revival in Orkney and Shetland? I’ll try to work from first principles.

Why do heterosexual men express interest in anal sex?

Is it because of increased access to porn due to the internet? Is it a dominance thing? Is it a latent homosexual issue? Fetish? Is it a bucket list item? Is it the position?

  • For some men and women, the fact that it is pleasurable is in itself enough. It is, to be blunt, an accessible orifice, and one that is amenable to sexual stimulation. For other people, it is too painful, or too gross.
  • But the pleasure or lack of it is not the only principle at play. If it was, then porn, dominance, latent homosexuality, fetish, bucket list, and for that matter grossness—they would all be irrelevant, if the only consideration were up to nerve endings and pain vs pleasure. Obviously there are cultural considerations at play. Obviously there is a cultural semiotics of anal sex.
  • One consideration: it’s non-procreative penetration. Its use in cultures as a non-procreative alternative for heterosexuals is longstanding. That means that its availability as an option is culturally long-standing.
  • There are taboos around anal sex. One reason for it is the propinquity of excretion, which would have led to both concerns about hygiene (a concern readily mitigated, I am informed), and more diffuse cultural barriers.
  • Let’s recall the second reason for the taboo, though, which is probably more pervasive. Sodomy was enjoined against in many societies, and the enjoinder had legal effect in some states of the US up until Lawrence v. Texas. Recall that sodomy includes not just anal sex, but oral sex. The taboo was precisely the fact that both are non-procreative.
  • Many people are attracted to taboo activity around sexuality. The word for that is kink. Of the sundry flavours of kink, anal sex is presumably one of the more benign. Hence the not actually apocryphal at all “Where’s the most exotic place you’ve had sex?—That’d be in the butt, Bob”: ‘Up the Butt, Bob’
  • The position and pain threshold may well have associations with dominance. I don’t know enough to pass opinion on that. I’m less convinced there’s been porousness from homosexual anal sex as a practice; the pervasiveness of homophobia in Western society seems to me an argument against.
  • As to porn: it’s as much effect as cause; I’d argue it’s even more. Yes, porn has raised awareness of all sorts of kink in the general community; but I hardly think anal sex was in the same category as, say, bukkake, as an activity that has propagated primarily via porn. There was a lot of anal sex around pre-porn. Especially in traditional societies, as non-procreative sex.
  • It is true, as Jeremy Markeith Thompson has noted, that anal sex is a focus of porn and is glamourised. But that’s part and parcel of the taboo nature of anal sex; and porn trades on kink. At any rate, kink in porn is subject to acute inflation. Yes, bulletin boards can excitedly comment about starlet X’s first anal scene. But then it’s her first threesome. Or interracial. Or bukkake. Or BDSM. Or whatever they come up with next.

OK, here endeth the lesson.

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