By Callan Reilly
It seems anal sex is taking over, with articles being written everywhere about what was referred to as “the road less traveled.” But still, beliefs behind the popular sex trend are complicated.
“I think it’s the fact that we are getting a little older that it’s not such a weird thing,” said Annie*, a junior from Overland Park. “Even a year or so ago I had heard a friend of mine had done it, and I thought it was so weird,” she said. “Now it’s not such a big deal.”
According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that polled people between the ages of 15 and 44, 36 percent of straight women and 44 percent of straight men admitted to having had anal sex at least once in their lives. Additionally, the Journal of Sexual Medicine announced in 2010 the number of 18 to 19 year-olds who’ve been anally penetrated rose by 20 percent between 1992 and 2010.
Though anal sex play seems increasingly popular, the topic is still holding onto some taboo stereotypes.
“From a girl’s point of view it’s looked down upon as slutty or trashy,” said Katie*, a senior from Leawood. “I also feel like guys like taking a new virginity from someone again. It’s almost like a game.”
This is what University of Kansas professor emeritus and sex therapist Dennis Dailey calls “sexual male bravado,” which he describes as men bragging or competing with sexual activity — whether it’s oral, vaginal or anal.
A Live Science study also reinforces Dailey’s point. One hundred thirty teens ages 16 to 18 from diverse backgrounds were interviewed on their opinions of sexual experiences in August. Males in the study appeared to perceive having anal as a competition. Even though not all the young men in the study said they wanted to have anal sex, many of them said men encourage one another to try the practice. The teens also expected men to find pleasure in anal sex, whereas women were mostly expected to endure the negative aspects of anal sex, such as pain or a damaged reputation.
So, does this make the increasingly-popular anal sex “degrading?”
“I think any sexual behavior if expressed in a certain way can be degrading,” Dailey said. “Even though there’s more openness about anal sex play, it’s still 30 or 40 percent of people who get involved with that with any kind of regularity. I think those who do it do so as part of a pleasurable experience with each other. I don’t think it’s naturally a degrading experience.”
Despite the conflicting reasons behind performing the act, it is happening.
“I think it has to do with a general level of comfort with sexuality,” Dailey said. “I think that what’s changed is not that there’s more of it, but more comfort or more openness in talking about it. Over the last several decades there’s been a small incremental change and openness about sexuality, even though there’s still a lot of people who struggle with issues and problems.”
Ben*, a senior from Kansas City, Kan., is open to anal sex. I asked him if a woman who is also open to anal sex play affects his opinion of her. “Absolutely not,” he said. “If anything it’s a bonus because it shows she’s open to different things. If the girl wants it I have no problem doing it every once in a while.”
Ben says he prefers vaginal sex over anal, but describes himself as always having an open mind.
“If my partner is really into it I’ll cater to her needs, but I personally won’t ask for it more than a couple times a month,” he said. “I am open to everything, who am I to judge? To me sex has never been just about doing a few select things.”
Edited by Katie Gilbaugh