Anal Sex and Communication

By: James Peters
Anal sex (or anal intercourse) relates to the sexual act involving the insertion of the penis into the anus of another sexual partner. The term “anal sex” can also refer to additional sexual acts involving the anus. These acts may include including pegging (female to male), anal-oral sex (cunnilingus), fingering, and object insertion. In the field of sexual communication, this topic has garnered much attention due to its stereotypical nature.

Paul Avril’s interpretation of Hadrian and Antinous
external image 220px-%C3%89douard-Henri_Avril_%2818%29.jpg

Common Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions or sexual bias’s that stereotype the act of anal sex. In American culture, anal sex is historically been perceived as exclusive to gay men. This misconception has since been dispelled by researchers, as not all gay males engage in anal sex, and anal sex is not uncommon among heterosexual relationships. Orgasms while engaging in anal sex can be reached through stimulation of the prostate gland in men, and clitoral and G-spot stimulation in women. As with all forms of sexual interaction, all individuals are at risk for contracting STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) and during anal sex, safe measures are advised. Anal sex is widely considered to be a high-risk sexual practice, due to the vulnerability of the anus and sphincter tissues.

Popular culture/AIDS
Anal Sex as a topic for popular debate and discussion has been recently researched. The AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and 1990’s instilled fear in the homosexual community because the disease remained fairly confined to the gay male population. Today, women actually make up a greater percentage of the population who has AIDS. Avert, a global statistic agency predicts that around 30 million people live with AIDS, and 16 million are actually women (Worldwide, 2010). This shows that the perception of anal sex does not reflect statistical data. In the conservative American society, anal sex and AIDS is commonly believed to be restricted to the male community.

HIV statistics (Worldwide, 2011)
external image GlobalGraph.jpg

Prevalence/HealthCare
As our society is experiencing a modern day sexual revolution, heterosexual anal intercourse is becoming a standard practice for many men and women. Marion Carter, Dare Henry-Moss, Linda Hock-Long, Anna Bergdall and Karen Andes authored a review studying the increased prevalence of heterosexual relationships and anal sex. The study concluded that “between 30-40% of adults of reproductive age in the United States have engaged in heterosexual anal sex” (). Furthermore, the study asserted that “anal sex should be considered in a broad sexual health context, not simply as an indicator of STD risk. Health care providers should address it openly and, when appropriate, as a positive sexual and emotional experience” (Carter, 2011). This shows that anal sex has become an integrated part of the sexuality of both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Sexual communication about anal sex between patients and doctors should become common practice to reduce the risks anal sex.

The Internet and Anal Sex Practices
The internet has become an agent of sexuality that the global community is exposed to on a daily basis. It has connected our society to new and unprecedented forms of sexual interaction and anal sex has not been excluded. In a survey conducted by the American Journal for Public Health, it revealed some shocking results about sexual communication and anal sex. The article examined men who use the internet for meeting sexual partners and the associated risks were exposed. In the survey, men 16-24 years were interviewed and revealed that 48% of the sample had sexual relations with partners they met online (Garofalo, 2007). Of these, only 53% reported using condoms on a regular basis (Garofalo, 2007). This trend shows that men who seek online companionship often engage in riskier behaviors regarding anal sex. These men engaged each other on public “bathhouse forums” to decide when and where to meet. This internet survey demonstrates how powerful and effective the use of the internet has become in seeking sexual partners. This survey was conducted between homosexual men, but it demonstrates the mode of communication that the internet has represented in terms of sexual behaviors (anal sex).

Couples and Anal Sex
Modern society has set certain benchmarks in how heterosexual couples interact sexually. Anal sex has been widely considered a controversial behavior that is sensitive to mention in a relationship setting. In an article released by the Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, sexuality was studied between couples. This article focused on the power dynamics between gender and how this affected sexual acts. Relationship “power” was determined when there was a larger gap between both partners’ income. The conclusions were that “couples in which the female partner reported that her male partner made the decisions about sex and contraception had increased probability of having had anal sex during the four weeks prior to the interview” (Billy, 2009). Similarly, “couples who knew someone with AIDS were less likely than others to engage in anal sex” (Billy, 2009). These trends solidify the inherent relationship between men and women. Even as generations become less sexist and more sexually liberated, existing gender inequality may help explain certain trends in the use of anal sex in couples. Additionally, the mere perception of risk such as AIDS contraction, affected the couples decision to have anal sex.

Anal Sex in Africa
In other parts of the world, anal sex has begun to receive increased attention because of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In a study done by the journal in Culture, Health & Sexuality, the Zulu population were interviewed in South Africa about anal sex. In rural communities where the transmission of HIV was an existing concern, the findings indicated that the discussion of anal sex was intrinsically linked to “power relations in society” (Ndinda, 2008). The tribe indicated that as anal sex was rarely practiced in the tribe, the practice was influenced by a few factors. The Zulu assumed that rich white people were having anal sex as well as prisoners (Ndinda, 2008). The Zulu tribe even acknowledged that the power of the media through a television show called Yizo Yizo, had a direct effect on the perception of anal sex. The show, “which is popular among teenagers (up to 3 million viewers), has been heavily criticized by conservatives in South Africa for featuring anal sex scenes, and anal sex between white men in prison (Ndinda, 2008). This demonstrates that even in rural/tribal areas in Southern Africa, the media can still persuade popular opinion about topics such as anal sex.

Conclusions
The power of media outlets has established a clear link between popular opinion and the want to explore new sexual practices. Anal sex as a sexual practice is not new, but the integration of this act in popular culture is a revolutionary concept. Finally, sexual communication has become a driving force behind the shift in tradition regarding this once conservative subject.

References

Billy, John O. G., William R. Grady, and Morgan E. Sill. "Sexual Risk-Taking Among Adult
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Carter, Marian, Dare Henry-Moss, Anna Bergdall, and Karen Andes. "Heterosexual Anal Sex
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Garofalo, R., A. Herrick, B. S. Mustanski, and G. R. Donenberg. "Tip of the Iceberg: Young
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Ndinda, Catherine, Chiweni Chimbwete, Nuala McGrath, and Robert Pool. "Perceptions of Anal
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Williams, Elwood W. "Gay Men's Strategic Use of Bathhouse Communication Rules for
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