What is anal sex to you? Is anal sex an immoral perversion of vaginal penetration or an awesome sexual fashion statement? In “Anal Sex: Phallic and Other Meanings”, Simon Hardy analyses the current cultural representations of anal sex and people’s opinion of it. For the most part, Hardy keeps his opinion on anal sex neutral, and instead analyses the diverse categorizations of anal sex that people create. For this post I will analyze the implications of anal sex as seen in Hardy’s piece and offer my own opinion on the morality and practicality of this sexual practice.
The first categorization of anal sex is as a method of contraception, or a heterosexual substitute for vaginal penetration. Hardy points out that this mentality is common in areas such as Africa, that are lacking in other means of contraception. As a result, the practice poses as a health risk for the “sexual transmission of HIV infection” (Hardy 107). The practice of anal sex is also used as a “heterosexual substitute” and Hardy analyses that “male-to-male penetration can substitute for vaginal penetration… because of the absence of women” (Hardy 108). This seems like a very logical way for homosexual couples to have sex beyond oral practices. In contrast to this almost practical application of anal sex for homosexual couples, anal sex and the butt itself has gained popularity among straight folks through porn and media. Hardy argues that “anal sex has finally emerged from its closet into the cultural mainstream” (Hardy 109). Despite this mainstream culturalization of the ass as a sexual entity, many people still consider it an immoral perversion. Above all of these positive opinions and criticisms, no one can deny that anal sex is often used as a new form of phallic domination and a method of sexual power boasting.
Simon Hardy does an excellent job of incorporating a vast spectrum of implications and interpretations of anal sex. He explains how the practice can be used as a logical substitution for health or identity, or as a more malicious way to achieve phallic domination and sexual control. This brings up the debate of whether anal sex should be considered a healthy and continuously popularized form of sexual attraction. The piece is slightly limited because Hardy does not delve deeply into people’s opinions of whether anal sex is moral or immoral, logical or a fad. His article is mostly an analysis, allowing the reader to conjure his/her own interpretations.
The idea of phallic domination is directly related to Kerwin Kaye’s “Sexual Intercouse” and its topic of phallic domination and the morality of certain sexual performances. Kaye brings up a very good question: “What constitutes good vs. bad intercourse?” (Kaye 114). The slight disconnect between the articles is that intercourse is largely considered vaginal penetration of the penis, yet anal sex seems to have the same idea of phallic domination. Kerwin argues that “to say that one ‘had intercourse’ three times… would commonly refer to the fact that a man ejaculated three times, and implies nothing about the experience of the female partner” (Kaye 114). This suggests the idea of male domination (or anyone with the active role of the penis) that directly relates to anal sex and its revolution around penial domination.134
I want to point out an interesting quote from Kimberly Tauches’ “Transgendering: Challenging the ‘Normal’”. In her article she mentions that “sexuality can either be an identity or an act”(Tauches 134). This implies that sexual actions determine one’s sexuality, but anal sex does not seem to apply to this. People of almost any sexuality can engage in anal sex, so the action in this case does not necessarily determine one’s sexual image. This leads me to my argument that anal sex is not a taboo perversion because it is a node in which people of all sexual orientations can practice. In response to Kaye’s question of what is considered “good” and “bad” sex, I would say that anal sex is a method of sexual intimacy that people of all sexualities can practice for practicality and/or attraction; so good.
Anal sex and the popularization of the ass is definitely evident in today’s media. It seems that a larger bottom and its ability shake is all the rage when it comes to looking sexy. Twerking is a relatively recent dance move that emphasizes the shaking of the buttox. Pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj have popularized the dance on live television to the horror of some and the pleasure of others. It seems like everyone knows what twerking is, and it’s no wonder that the ass and anal sex has risen as a sexual fashion statement.
Hardy’s statement on the idea of anal sex as a form of phallic domination reminds me of the scene from the movie American History X where Derek Vinyard, a heartless neo-nazi, is raped in prison. In this disturbing scene, a prison mate anally penetrates Derek while his friends mock and humiliate him. Derek is seen crying in the hospital bed because he feels humiliated and weak: he experienced a forced phallic domination. The rapist and his cronies are not homosexual, but the lack of female presence makes anal penetration a perfect substitute for vaginal sex. This connects back to the idea that anal sex can be used as a central node for almost any sexual activity; even rape.
Do you think anal sex is an example of “good” sex? Why do you think anal sex was known for being extremely taboo and immoral before its relatively recent popularization? Do you think anal sex is a method of phallic domination even if the relationship is intimate?