Sex Talk: Anal Taboos

Few sexual activities prompt more extremes of delight and disgust than good old anal action. So potent is the prohibition against posterior penetration that “sodomy” supposedly got God miffed enough to trash entire cities.

It’s not just Bible-toters, though, who find backdoor sex offensive. Hosts of unchurched homophobes fall back on buttsex as the basis of their bias, and there are gay guys, too, who shun fundament fun. Anal sex can even be literally unmentionable, having been euphemized in archaic legal codes as “the crime against nature.” (And beware: though it’s no longer a civil crime in much of the world, in less-enlightened societies, a rear-end romp can still be punished by prison or even execution.)

One version of the anti-anal argument is based on a mechanistic, biology-is-destiny viewpoint. “The butthole is made for excretion,” the contention goes, “so it should only be used for taking a dump.” That sort of reasoning can get tricky, though. As one anal aficionado says, “If the anus is an exit-only aperture, then why is it such a great erogenous zone? Might not it have been designed with more than one use in mind?”

Still, the rectum’s role as an excretory organ brings up a second objection: it’s dirty down there. Sometimes, anti-anal objections come down to mere aesthetics, gripes like “it’s smelly” or “it’s icky.” But proper douching can keep a butt neat and tidy…and anyway, not everyone’s quite so fastidious. As another anal sex fan says, “For me, part of the appeal of humping is its funkiness. If things get a wee bit messy, I don’t mind.”

Then there’s the gender-based notion that Real Men should be the screwers, not the screwees; many an anti-gay insult relates to the rump. One observer of sexual mores points out, “A straight guy who rants about ‘fudgepackers’ may really be insecure about opening up his own body. But hey, lots of hets love to ram their girlfriends up the rear.”

“And,” our observer of mores continues, “it’s not just straight homophobes who conflate ‘gay’ and ‘takes it up the rear.’ There are also queer guys who think of anal penetration as the ultimate in homosex, like it’s a prerequisite to being genuinely gay.” But there’s no queer commandment to break the booty taboo, and “thou shalt” can get nearly as oppressive as “thou shalt not.” Don’t want to eat hole? Then don’t. Plenty of homos have happily gone through life without any anal action. You can, too.

Paradoxically, the taboo against anal sex may lend it extra appeal; if an act is forbidden, it can seem even hotter. Some sexual adventurers play with that seductive sense of the forbidden to spice things up, whether it’s a matter of using naughty words like “manpussy,” or getting into something edgier, and perhaps messier.

On the other, more dangerous hand, overcoming reluctance—especially with the help of drink or drugs—can lead to throwing caution to the wind, never a great idea. Our observer of sexual mores points out, “Not all taboos are irrational. Unprotected anal sex may seem hot—and let’s face it, few of us really love condoms—but barebacking is not just daring, it’s dumb. I’ve got to guiltily confess, though, that I do get aroused by the sight of a dripping hole in a barebacking video.”

Inconveniently, but undeniably, anal sex—whether penile penetration, rimming, or even fingering—does pose serious health risks. Unsheathed screwing is not just the most efficient sexual route of HIV transmission. Lots of other nasties, from syphilis to venereal warts, can be easily transmitted through anal contact, too. If you’re playing with the posterior, it’s important to use rubbers, be inoculated against hepatitis, get periodic checkups…and keep things in perspective. As our buttsex fan points out, “You can have a lot of health problems with your feet, too, and let’s face it, humping is more fun than walking.”

No doubt about it: the ancient practice of anal sex can violate some strong proscriptions, whether it’s the animal instinct to cover our scat, or a religious imperative to behave or else. Still, upbringing and/or faith not withstanding, many queer guys happily negotiate the posterior path from reluctance to rectal fun. “It all goes back to overly strict toilet training,” says one self-described voracious bottom, half jokingly. “Thanks to my mother, I thought the butt was no-no territory. I have, though, grown up and changed my mind. I’m just glad there are some things about me that Mom doesn’t know.”

Simon Sheppard is the editor of Leathermen and Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica, and the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at [email protected] Visit Simon at

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