Flicking through anthropological texts yields a pathetic number of references to heterosexual anal sex. Is this because researchers assume that it’s only for homosexual guys? Those researchers are missing a trick. Our resident sex anthropologist Florence Walker of GQ magazine UK investigates.
The Ancient Greeks weren’t the only peoples to have had a mania for portraying sex acts in clay. Between 100AD and 800AD in Northern Peru, the Moche culture production of pottery exploded. Archaeologists have unearthed 10,000 pots. The vessels baffled scholars who tried to tackle their subject matter. Here’s why: there’s so much anal sex.
Explanations for their mania range from showing a form of birth control to the pots making sense of new political power structures. In this instance, contraception isn’t necessarily the driving factor behind entering through the rear. As we’ve seen before, a correlation between vaginal sex and pregnancy isn’t always made by participants.
A pot depicting a couple engaged in anal sex while the mother breastfeeds her child points in another direction. It’s possible that the Moche held similar beliefs as the people of the modern day Sambia. Semen was viewed as an important life force and this pot might suggest that they believed that receiving spunk via the mother’s rectum produced milk. The sperm would be channeled through the mother’s seemingly magical body to the breasts. Let’s hope we never find evidence that any father’s considered skipping the middle man. It’s not convincing that this belief could be held among the entire population and survive outside influences over such a long time period.
The second reason – that anal sex might be a way of the need to make sense of new political power structures – isn’t much more plausible. The nearby Recuay people also made sex pots in the same era but they depicted good ol’ fashioned penis and vagina sex. Their society was to some degree much more equal than the cosmopolitan Moche. This has led to the evaluation that the anal sex pots are trying to communicate the notion that “in every relationship, one partner has to suffer discomfort to give pleasure to the other.” Hmm. Well, maybe. But this ignores the evidence that anal sex can be bags of fun.
You would be well advised to not treat a pelvis regime like a Bop it! toy (this one goes whizz when you spin it, pull that one for a bang, etc). Instead, the entire region is interconnected by genitospinal nerves which trigger orgasm. One of them, the pelvic nerve, transmits signals from the rectum in both sexes. Anecdotal evidence show that women have have reported earth-shattering orgasms from anal sex. Presumably the best orgasms would come from when all the nerves can be simultaneously excited – which would explain the invention of this gadget.
Let’s be clear that this isn’t a carte blanche for sneaking in through your girlfriend’s back door, but if you are lucky enough to be given the all-clear by your partner, you’re still not ready to go until you’re aware of the risks.
Anal sex is classified as a “sexually risky behaviour”. Anuses are delicate. The skin is very thin and unlike vaginas, arseholes are incapable of producing their own lubrication, no matter how many hours of foreplay you put into it. Lubrication is important. Without it, excessive friction causes tearing and bleeding. So lube up. For one, tearing the inside of someone’s butthole seems wilfully negligent and impolite. Second, skin protects us from pathogens entering the body, so by ripping up the inside of someone’s ass, you’re exposing them to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus which can cause anal cancer). And in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a reason why so many euphemisms for anal sex include mention of faecal matter. It’s because (men AND women) crap out of there. This comes with own associated risks. As ever, your best friend is a condom. And don’t double dip.
Anal is the new pussy
According to Pornhub data, anal is the third most commonly searched term in the UK. A case of always wanting what you can’t have? Stigma surrounding heterosexual anal sex is decreasing and more couples are reporting having at least tried it once. It isn’t just the preserve of homosexual couples. Roughly a third of homosexual couples report that anal isn’t part of their regular sexual repertoire. And in absolute figures, many more heterosexual couples have tried anal sex.
The mystery of the Moche sex pots remains unsolved. Fancy having a go at solving it? Better get up on it then.