You've heard it here: Anal sex can be highly pleasurable and add an extra dimension to people’s sexual enjoyment. The problem? It's still taboo, and there are still many negative social barriers that prevent people from giving it a try, even if they want to. So what's the truth? We'll take a look at the societal pressures around anal sex. (Why is anal sex still taboo? Get Ducky Doolittle's take here.)

Women and Anal Sex

We like to think of sex and pleasure as all-encompassing, all-welcoming. That isn't always so. Sometimes sex is portrayed as a stigmatized act. When it comes to anal sex in heterosexual relationships, it's often portrayed as something that women are pressured to do. In fact, sex in itself is often portrayed as an act that a woman performs for a man, or something that a man does to a woman for his own pleasure. In sex, to penetrate is perceived as to dominate. In that sense, anal sex can seem like the epitome of female submission.

The Truth
Anal sex shouldn't be done just to satisfy a partner, but neither should any sex act. Good sex is based on mutual consent and enjoyment. If women want to have anal sex, they should have it. The anus is filled with nerve endings, and its proximity to the vagina (and G-spot) can make this type of sex powerfully pleasureful. If a woman is into it. If she's not, she needs to be honest with her partner. And if you want to have anal sex - or don't - forget about what society says. This is about you. (But you should play safe. Learn more in Why You Shouldn't Have Anal Sex.)
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Men and Anal Sex

For straight men, masculinity can be a barrier for anal penetration. For many men, being penetrated is somehow less masculine, and being on the receiving end of stimulation and domination may be seen not only as weak, but feminine. When men are interested in trying anal sex, they might even worry that they're gay.

The Truth
A man's prostate can have an amazing pleasure response. That isn't queer; that's just anatomy. If you're a man interested in anal sex, think about why you are turned off about the idea of actually receiving anal sex. Honing in on the crux of the objection will help you conceptualize how you perceive sex, anal penetration and even yourself. Overcoming societal pressure to be masculine is no easy task, but know that receiving anal stimulation does not have to be demeaning, feminizing, or even queer. (Get some tips on toys to use in Strap on the Fun?)

From Pressure to Pleasure

You might think you're open-minded, but we're all up against a lot of ideas that come from way outside our own desires. Once we are aware that we all feel these pressures in different ways, it pays to acknowledge that the origins of those pressures are external. Then we can move on to recognize that anal sex - or any sort of butt play - can in fact be highly pleasurable when done properly. It's up to you whether it turns you on; whether you take it or leave it. Just consider why you're doing it. Your sex life isn't about what other people think. It's about what you feel. And if you're into it, anal sex can feel really good.

For a great anal sex reference for men, check out "The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners" by Charlie Glickman. Women should check out "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women" by Tristan Taormino.