“Let your belly be full, your clothes clean, your body and head washed; enjoy yourself day and night, dance, sing and have fun; look upon the child who holds your hand, and let your wife delight in your lap! This is the destiny of mortals.”
These words from the Epic of Gilgamesh tell of the sexuality and hedonistic attitudes of the ancient Sumerians, who lived in the cradle of civilization—a civilization for whom anal sex was commonplace.
Sex is and always has been a fascinating subject to ponder. Throughout my life, I’ve often found myself mesmerized by the various facets of the expression of love, the many ways with which we show our affection for others, and that we experience such a deep, rich feeling of affection in the first place.
Why do we want the things that we want?
When we’re involved in the practice of our sexuality, we don’t tend to look at it with the objective lens that we do when we view it in the abstract, which can sometimes lead to powerful realizations about the nature of one of our most fundamental practices.
Sex is hardwired into the very fabric of our being, threaded through us, and it permeates everything we do, which makes for one interesting study.
I’ve often wondered about why and how some sex practices came to be, and anal play is no exception. What is it that compels people to practice the types of sex habits that they do?
This story seeks to answer that question in regards to the seemingly pervasive human desire for anal play. What compels people to try and continue anal sex? On the one hand, it’s an “exit” through which our body deposits waste, which would conceivably make it rather uninviting, yet, it’s a fantasy of men all over the world.
The History of Anal Sex
Anal sex and other forms of anal play are cross-cultural practices—definitely not a modern invention. Civilizations the world over seem to have used the anus as an object from which to derive sexual pleasure. While varying cultures have practiced a varying degree of acceptance of the practice, it does seem to be nearly a universal desire.
We can trace the history of anal sex back quite far, as far back as civilization itself. There are surviving pieces of erotica that date back to 4,000 years ago from ancient Mesopotamia, which are believed to depict people having anal sex. While penetration is not graphically shown, it’s known that anal sex was the most common means of contraception before other methods were invented.
While anal sex has always been an extremely popular fantasy in the minds of men everywhere, it’s becoming a much more popular practice in the west, leading some to suggest it’s the new oral sex; anal sex is quickly becoming popular enough to be a staple in the sex lives of many bedrooms, just another facet of sexual expression thrown into the overall mix of love.
A study in 2010 showed that 46 percent of women had engaged in anal sex, whereas the previous study conducted in 1994 yielded just 33 percent—and it’s only become more popular since then.
Why is Anal Sex Desirable?
People report a variety of reasons for desirability when it comes to anal play and anal sex, but the most common explanation is simple: that it’s just simply hot. The grandfather of psychology, Sigmund Freud, once said that the entirety of the body is sexual; there aren’t specific parts that are or are not able to be sexualized. A quick perusal of a pornographic website can attest to this fact.
Quite simply, men generally like to look at women’s butts, so it would make sense that they’d generally like to touch them as well. The anus is capable of being sexualized just as much as any of the reproductive organs, as well as other things such as breasts, feet, hair, and other parts that people seem fascinated with, in a sexual way.
Beyond the simple-seeming universal desirability of the rear end, many men report that there’s something “raw” about anal sex that isn’t quite the same in vaginal sex. There is no possibility of pregnancy resulting from anal sex, and, on a deep level, this resonates with many men who consider it more carnal, just done for the sheer pleasure of it without even a hint of being something more.
Many men report the allure to be the fact that it’s considered a “forbidden fruit,” a fruit that tempts many. If a person’s body is Eden, anal play and anal sex are the fruit from the tree of knowledge. The simple fact that it’s “wrong” is a powerful motivator in the minds of many (and by wrong, I mean biologically, rather than making any moral claims here).
Intimacy is a big draw for a lot of people as well, both women and men. When it comes to the anus, there is often a sense of hesitancy and reservation that comes into play with a lot of people, and by consenting to anal play, it’s a way for many people to communicate to their partner that they admire all of them, every single part, and for recipients of anal play, to communicate that not a single part of their body is off-limits.
In a real way, for some, anal sex is their way of saying, “I enjoy you so much that I want you to have all of me,” or the inverse, “I enjoy you so much that I want to have all of you—nothing disgusts me.”
For many human beings, the anus is almost, or even just as attractive as a vagina, and for some people, it’s even more attractive, which really hammers home the notion that once we’re attracted to a person of our liking, little about their bodies can be said to be unattractive, speaking generally, of course.
The potential for both pain and pleasure on the behalf of the recipient of anal sex naturally lends itself into sexual dynamics which are heavy into power-play, BDSM, dominant and submissive relationships, and so on.
For many recipients, the pain is where the magic is; they enjoy submitting to pain to please their partners and actually get off on it. For others, they derive a great deal of pleasure from having a little back door stimulation, whatever that may look like for them, and some people cannot achieve orgasm without the rear being stimulated.
There is a versatility in anal play which revolves heavily around the consolidation of nerve endings within that particular part of the body, where people can experience the peaks of ecstasy or the throes of pain, whichever they desire. This only serves to increase the level of intimacy in such an act; when the possibility of things going wrong could lead to immense pain, there is a greater degree of trust between practitioners and their partners in performing the act.
Anal sex allows people to be vulnerable in a completely novel way before one another, and whether their partner engages in hurting them or not is a thing of their choosing. It’s a way of saying, “I will allow you to potentially hurt me, but I trust that you won’t,” for those who do not enjoy pain, and a way to communicate, “If you allow me to pleasure you in a way that could hurt you, I will not—I will be patient, gentle, and consider your wants and needs.”
There’s an immense power in this, and I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide if it’s their cup of tea or not, but I will also comment that there’s an immense beauty in the vulnerability of the people who engage in anal sex, a vulnerability that’s also found in other activities, supposing it’s simply not your thing.
Believe it or not, analingus, the oral-anal act of touching the anus with the tongue, is more popular than actual anal sex, with a 2008 study showing 18 percent of men reporting they’d performed an act of actual anal sex, while 15 percent had received analingus, and a full 24 percent had performed analingus.
Analingus is popular for the same reasons anal sex is, in that it’s taboo, “nasty” (to some, which arguably increases the appeal to others), and extremely intimate. It’s a way for some partners to taste the essence of another, and for the practitioners of it, this is extremely enjoyable. It’s also a way to stimulate a region that doesn’t often get a whole lot of attention and to do it in a new way.
Finger insertion is the most popular form of anal play there is, with a massive 24 percent of men (a high number for heterosexual guys) reporting having tried it, in the 2008 study, and a towering 53 percent of women admitting that they’d tried it.
For men, it stimulates the prostate if done correctly and can lead to immense pleasure (or so I’ve been told), and for women, it’s a less invasive way of enjoying the fruits of anal sex, without the risk of pain involved as well.
Fingerplay is the least invasive and arguably least intimate, which is likely why it’s the most popular.
Love It or Hate It
It should be noted here that there is an immense case of “the haves versus the have-nots,” when it comes to all forms of anal play. When men have not performed anal intercourse, they’re extremely unlikely to have engaged in another form of anal play since of these men only 2 percent reported having performed analingus, 4 percent have received analingus, 3 percent have received finger-penetrative anal play, and 10 percent have given finger-penetrative anal play.
This means that there’s a divide between those who love the booty and those who hate it. There are very few people out there who’ve tried a little bit of anal play and not gone for the whole package and had anal sex. On the one hand, this means that those who’ve tried anal play enjoyed it, and decided to go for more, on the other hand, those who haven’t tried it or thought about it aren’t likely to anytime soon.
What’s a hard limit for some is a source of great pleasure for others, and like many things in life, it’s up to the individuals involved as to what their preferences are.
The Evolution of Anal Sex
Anal sex evolved, much like music, art, and other elements of our culture that don’t have to do with success at procreation—that is, it evolved with us for the simple pleasure of doing it, a testament to its enjoyability among its practitioners.
Evolution isn’t a linear design that attempts to perfect things; it fashions them to suit their environment, and sometimes this leads to some rather interesting results.
It’s quite common knowledge that men view large breasts on a primal level as being a symbol of fertility and their ability to nourish children that may come about from a sexual union. But the fact remains that, while large breasts may signify that a person we’re looking at is, in fact, a woman who’s capable of producing children, large breasts don’t actually produce more milk. Evolution has simply selected us to believe so by happenstance.
The same goes for anal sex; it’s a pleasurable activity that just happens to be a by-product of our sexual natures in other areas. We are much more than replicating machines. We are human beings with thoughts, feelings, ideas, and we’re capable of obtaining a deep, rich, inner experience in ways beyond the simple mechanics of survival and procreation.
In closing, while anal sex is still very much relegated to certain bedrooms, its increasing popularity among heterosexual couples is undeniable, and it’s always been popular among homosexual and other-sexual couples since the dawn of time, from Japan to ancient Greco-Roman society, and ancient Egypt, too.
Anal sex has been a staple of human sexuality for as long as there has been human sex, and it’s just one more way for people to show their affection in a genuine, often highly ecstatic, and novel way.