Back Door Psychology
David J. Ley Ph.D.
What is with the male fascination with heterosexual anal sex, anyway? Men seem to fantasize obsessively about anal sex, hundreds of porn movies are made every year that fetishize anal sex, and women everywhere debate whether they should or shouldn’t have anal sex with their boyfriend or husband, while men discuss how to convince their female partners to give it a try. When women do have anal sex, the overwhelming majority, do so at the request of their male partner. So, why? What does anal sex mean?
Heterosexual anal sex has been around for millennia. Paintings and etchings from Japan, China and Europe all depict men performing anal sex on women, as do ancient erotic drawings, sculpture and pottery from the Mediterranean and South America. In some Polynesian cultures, anal sex was practiced explicitly as a means of birth control. Today, some adolescents regard anal sex as a means to prevent conception, regardless of increased risks for transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Over the past decades, heterosexual anal sex rates have climbed. In the Fifties, anal sex was reported by fewer than fifteen percent of the population. Modern overall rates suggest that around a third of men have performed anal sex on a woman, and slightly fewer women have received anal sex. The rates are still higher in sexually active adult in their twenties.
But, for married and committed couples, where disease and pregnancy aren’t a significant concern, how can we explain the prevalence of the male fascination with anal sex? Men are sexually interested by variety, but aside from this, there is no relevant evolutionary argument, as anal sex of course produces no heirs.
Anal sex, and a desire for anal sex, serves different purposes for men. The strongest, and most common argument that men voice, is that a woman who will engage in anal sex is inherently arousing to a man. Such a woman, in embracing anal sex, is embracing it with no intent or possible result of pregnancy – it is sex, at its rawest. For a man, anal sex with a woman is her allowing him to play Star Trek, and venture into uncharted territory. Even if it is not where no man has gone before, it is still something novel, uncommon, and special in its rarity. A woman engaging in anal sex shows her desire and willingness to have sex in a purely physical way, with no thought of pregnancy. She is embracing, to some degree, a willingness to make her body a sexual object. Some research suggests that women who engage in anal sex report having more orgasms, not necessarily during anal sex alone, but in their overall levels of sexual activity. The overall conclusions are that the women who are willing to engage in anal sex tend to be more adventurous, more sensual, more relaxed in bed, and thus, more orgasmic.