An Ode to Ass

Or, how we got butt sex on the brain and can't get it off

 Young and Anal 33. Anal Supremacy. Ass Worship 7.

One look at this month's bestselling porn titles, and the trend is clear: When folks have a choice of threesomes, interracial sex, amateurs, 18-year-olds, MILFs, and nearly every other sexual niche imaginable, they choose anal-themed movies. And it's not just pornophiles either. From men's magazines to self-help books, anal sex is always high on the list of people's fantasies. It's one of the most frequently searched-for terms on the Web. So what is it about behinds and banging them that gets us so hot and bothered? I've got a few theories.

The ass has been eroticized for centuries. We can all agree that a butt's something to check out as it walks by in tight jeans, pat gently in admiration, squeeze on the sly, cup firmly when you've got a mouthful of pussy or cock, or dig your heels into while you're getting fucked. Between the cheeks, there's a whole lot more going on. The idea of the ass as an erogenous zone in its own right is not new, but the public discussion of it is.

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  • For such a tight-lipped little area, the butthole says a whole lot about American culture. With nicknames ranging from flowery (rosebud) to filthy (poop chute), the brown eye is full of complexity and contradiction. It represents strength and control to some and ultimate vulnerability to others. It's delicate yet resilient, and embodies some of our deepest needs—things like privacy, trust, and power. Some fear it, others fetishize it, and everyone has to think about it on a regular basis. Talk of it can elicit feelings from stress to silliness. What other hole do you know that is associated with Freudian pathology, puritanical repression, and homophobia? That's one busy orifice.

    While it symbolizes some of our fundamental fixations, it transcends another of our collective obsessions: gender. In this age of gender fluidity and transgendered bodies, the ass emerges as a kind of neutral territory of the flesh. While genderqueers attempt to reimagine, reclaim, and even rename sites of pleasure like breasts, cunts, and cocks that are heavily identified as male or female, the ass is everyman's hole—a source of pleasure unencumbered by society's expectations.

    Why we fantasize about anal sex reveals just how powerful and varied its meanings are. To lots of people, anal sex is unattainable in a no-means-you-are-never-ever-going-there-honey kind of way. We want it because it's out of our reach. It turns us on like banging the boss's hot wife, doing Angelina Jolie, or having a threesome with them both—precisely because it ain't gonna happen.

    In addition to wanting what we can't have, we're also aroused by what we're not supposed to do—the thing that would shock our friends and neighbors at church if they found out we did it. We like to misbehave, especially when it comes to sex. Anal sex fulfills our desire to be the sexual rebel, to stray from convention, to be, quite simply, naughty.

    Assfucking does not just challenge societal norms; it can also be a way to test the limits of the body. You can ask an awful lot of a very small opening (think anal fisting up to the elbow). One of the most popular subjects of letters I receive is about those limits, with questions like: How wide is too wide? How long can a toy be? How much can I fit in my ass? Some people don't necessarily want to actually do it, but they want to fantasize about doing it or watch someone else do it. Gaping—where, after lots of penetration, the anus is wide open—is increasingly popular in anal-sex videos and is a good example of imagery that affirmingly depicts how far our bodies can go.

    But when all you hear is dick-pussy this and dick-pussy that, the ass remains neglected and overlooked, but this oversight contributes to it having a mysterious quality. That Star Trek fan in all of us is excited by the element of darkness, the unknown, the mystique of a place where no one has gone before. It's our frontier-exploring, cowboy spirit that yearns to make the tough journey, then plant our flagpole to mark our territory.

    It's no secret I love anal sex, in real life and on video (yes, I admit I fast-forward straight to the buttfucking). For me, it's all about power and consciousness. I think that every sexual exchange is a power exchange and playing with that dynamic is what can make sex extraordinary. Anal sex is the perfect vehicle for dominance and submission play since so much of it is about control and surrender. Because of the way it has been represented (often as violent) and the fact that you could actually hurt someone if you don't do it right, there is a sense of danger.

    On top of that, it's not exactly something most people can just do. Very few performers can phone in an anal scene in a video and nonprofessionals need time, preparation, and a whole lot more for it to work. That's why in videos, the players' self-awareness seems more palpable to me during anal sex. It's like you can see everyone's brain working: The receiver is saying "breathe, pace yourself, get to that place where it's gonna work" and the giver is saying "how fast can I go, I want to get this right." They are really engaged with their own bodies and with one another.

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