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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Column: Anal sex is more than just the butt of a joke

    It’s time to talk about butt sex.

    Last week, an episode of “The Mindy Project,” sheepishly titled “I Slipped,” depicted a heterosexual couple attempting, failing, arguing about and all-around exploring the idea of introducing anal sex into their bedroom. At one point, the protagonist, Mindy Lahari, calls it “fifth base.” Though the fate of the couple’s uncharted territories is never shown, the couple does come to an important conclusion: Anything is OK in the bedroom as long as it is discussed, agreed upon and consensual.

    But this episode, paired with recent articles on Gawker, The Guardian, and Nicki Minaj’s “he toss my salad like his name is Romaine” line from “Anaconda,” got me thinking: Could heterosexual acceptance — nay, embracement — of anal sex be a key to erasing long-standing prejudice against homosexual sex, specifically that of gay men?

    It is a widely accepted opinion that, on the whole, heterosexuals are uncomfortable with the idea of anal sex. Whether this discomfort comes from a Freudian conflict during psychosexual development or a Judeo-Christian condemnation like in Sodom and Gommorah, the truth is that it still persists.

    It was only in 2003 — 11 years ago — that the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws across the nation with Lawrence v. Texas. That’s right. Not only was anal uncomfortable for people to think, talk or act on, but it was also actually illegal in 14 states just over 10 years ago.

    “I think the most interesting and important thing to note about anal sex is that while not everybody has a vagina, and not everybody has a penis, everybody has an anus,” said Susan Stryker, an associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, about how a depiction of heterosexual anal sex on a popular television show relates to gay equality. “Consequently, the practice of anal sex helps breaks down the hetero-homo and male-female binaries; it’s not gay sex or straight sex, masculine sex or feminine sex; it’s just anal sex.”

    Because anal sex does not fit into the normative binaries patriarchal society is built on, it challenges traditional views on intimacy and, in doing so, subverts what the dominant straight culture considers “normal” — a subversion that could translate into other parts of society.

    “[Anal sex] confronts us with the fact that our bodies have capacities for pleasure that socialization steers us away from,” Stryker said. “It can be threatening to and disruptive of the very categories through which we produce sex [and] gender inequality.”

    Unfortunately, there may be a dark side to this heterosexual endorsement of anal sex. Certainly, “The Mindy Project” is anything but reverent about the topic. The characters range from calling it “freaky” and “slutty” to making comments about it being against God. And this can be problematic.

    Adam Geary, associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, said “humorous” portrayals of anal sex are just another way of making gay sex — and gay people — the butt of the joke. While the mere fact that anal sex is being discussed in the public forum is transformative, Geary said if this discussion merely continues stereotypes and normative standards, it is not at all revolutionary.

    “While I do think that the history of humor contains a history of social criticism, homosexuality as a joke is as old as the public representation of homosexuality,” Geary said. “Humor and the representation of homosexuality go back a long way, and this humor has rarely been a force for liberation and equality.”

    Geary added that “there is a difference between anal sex and gay sex.” And, although this is certainly true, anal sex may just prove to be a common ground for gays and straights alike to gain footing as equals. Although in discourse it may appear to be a strictly male practice, anal sex — inclusive of non-penetrative forms like analingus — has the potential to expand acceptance to people of all genders and orientations.

    With the proliferation of legalized same-sex marriage across the country, it is important that gay men are celebrated not for their ability to assimilate, but for their own personal choices, sexual or not. However, if all people, whatever their orientation, can come together in agreement over something that was once so taboo, something that clearly both heterosexuals and homosexuals are now open about practicing, then maybe the trek to equality isn’t so long after all.

    _______________

    Paul Thomson is a senior studying BFA acting and Africana Studies. Follow him on Twitter.

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