Pleasurable sex is subjective, which means that not everything “daring” is enjoyable for everyone.
That goes for any type of sex: oral, vaginal, or anal. Although I still contend that oral pleasure is a two-way street, maybe that discussion should be reserved for another time. Anal sex, on the other hand, comes with a whole different host of thoughts, taboos, and reservations.
Like any type of sex, anal sex requires precautions and safety. I do not personally advocate for or against it, but a couple is no less sexually adventurous for not wanting to go for it. I personally can’t stand the idea of potential fecal matter, and I just want to keep that part of my body for one function – though I completely understand that vaginal sex is messy too and comes with plenty of bacteria.
But that is just me.
Of course, I’m not concerned about what people decide to do in their bedrooms, but I am concerned about whether or not people have access to factual safe sex information.
I recently read a forum for women here in Pakistan where this topic came up in the form of an anonymous question. The responses (as I expected) did not necessarily seem receptive, and many women expressed their discomfort with the idea of anal sex. This was no surprise in a country like Pakistan where the conversation about sex, in general, remains almost non-existent.
What did surprise me though was when a few other women who made some of the uncomfortable women feel less educated or somehow dumber for not sharing the same enthusiasm for anal sex. While I do not go around screaming, ‘eww poop’ or ‘eww buttholes’ when the topic comes up, I found it strange that women were chiding other women for not necessarily giving a shit (no pun intended).
I always considered myself a very open-minded person. Am I really looking at this so wrong? Have I also been conditioned by a conservative undertone and taboo around the topic? I spent years in the realm of public health, and have always been an advocate for safe sex. It was in my professional description to always make sure that anyone, heterosexual or not made informed choices about the ways they had sex.
Whether that safe sex is vaginal, anal, or oral. Period.
I then realized the answer was no. I realized that my own own feelings towards anal sex were very similar to how I felt about period sex.
Sex is an expression of the self, which automatically reminds us how different things are enjoyable to different people.
The topic of anal sex remains understudied, especially when it comes to heterosexual women. However, in the research that is out there, it is a mixed bag, especially because it was once (and still is in many parts of the world) a major taboo. Growing up in a Muslim household, while we never talked about sex in the family, my little bits of reading Islamic texts always reminded me that anal sex was a no-no.
I never understood why, but it was all I knew.
However, as I got older, I realized that regardless of what I understood from religious texts, I still never liked the idea of anal sex for myself. In graduate school, I learned about anal sex from a public health perspective, which included a whole different set of risks I never knew about. We learned that the increase of young heterosexual couples having anal sex was becoming more popular than once expected and that women were not always aware of the risks, nor are doing it because they find it pleasurable.
And that is problematic given that heterosexual women are almost always the receiving partner in anal sex.
Anal sex tends to now be associated with sexually adventurous heterosexual women. However, being a sexually adventurous woman does not equate to wanting or enjoying anal sex.
You can be sexually adventurous and open-minded without liking anal sex. And using porn as a guide – rather than seeking facts about sexual health – makes the situation even more precarious.
This has only recently been explored in the research world. For example, a study conducted in the UK consisted of interviews of 130 men and women between the ages of 16-18. From these interviews, researchers concluded that anal heterosex often appeared to be “painful, risky and coercive, particularly for women”. Other findings within this study showed a level of normalizing it, the attribution to pornography, and assuming that people “like anal sex if they do it.”
In other words, just because anal sex may seem more acceptable now does not mean it is always mutual, painless, or even safe. This emphasizes the need for safe sex education that goes beyond vaginal sex. It also shows that some women feel like they have to consent to anal sex even when they don’t like it or when they’re unsure of it. More on that another time, though.
Anal sex is not for everyone.
Nobody should be shamed for liking it, but nobody should be shamed for disliking it, either. And for those who are interested in it, information is key to making the decision of whether to have anal sex or continue having it. The anus, like the vagina, is a sensitive place, and nobody should ever feel the need to have to open it if they do not want to.