Anal sex has gone from a kinky taboo to almost mainstream. A 2010 University of Indiana study showed that 22 percent of women ages 20-39 had anal sex in the past year. But new research published in the July 2014 journal BMJ Open has revealed a dark side to anal sex: Young men are not always concerned about getting consent from young women to have anal sex, and painful penetration for women is considered normal and accepted. Say, what?
Women are expected to find anal sex painful. Researchers did in-depth interviews with 130 heterosexual 16-18 year olds about their sex practices and their attitudes about sex and found that one of the main reasons given for having anal sex was that men wanted to imitate what they’ve seen in pornography, while women were actually expected to find anal sex painful, particularly if it was their first time, according to the study—and that was somehow okay with some of the guys.
Women can be pressured into anal sex.
As if that weren’t disturbing enough, the research also revealed that emphatic coercion on the part of the young men—in other words, repeatedly requesting and pressuring their partners to have anal sex or even going ahead and having anal sex without their partner’s consent was also common. As one of the young men in the study put it: “Like sometimes you just keep going, just keep going till they just get fed up and let you do it anyway.” A regular Prince Charming.
Although some of the young men in the study said they avoided anal sex because they thought it might hurt their partners, the researchers noted that “even in otherwise seemingly communicative and caring partnerships, some men seemed to push to have anal sex with their reluctant partner despite believing it likely to hurt her.”
Notes study co-author Ruth Lewis, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: “While anal sex might not be the easiest topic to raise, we cannot afford to ignore attitudes that help normalize coercion and negatively affect both women and men. Anal sex is part of some young people’s sexual lives, and we believe our study makes a powerful case for more open discussion.”
The results of this study are eye-opening and frightening.
And they’re not at all what having a healthy, happy sex life is all about. Obviously, it isnever OK to have sex with anyone without his or her consent, nor is it OK to pressure someone repeatedly for sex until they cave, even though it’s against their wishes.