Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guy Culture

I tend to have more male friends than female friends. I always have. As a kid I was always very athletic but not particularly good at the social "games" the girls in my class played. I wasn't that interested in gossip or Barbies or nail polish. I didn't have any negative feelings toward other girls, and they didn't seem to have negative feelings toward me. But they generally seemed like puzzling creatures from another country to me. There was a sort of "language barrier" there. This sort of continued as I got older. I went to a private high school where the standards for "girling it up" were very high. If you didn't anguish over your clothing choices every day, spend hours on your hair and makeup, and have all the right accessories, you were not cool. And by high school these girls who had seemed puzzling but benign to me in our younger years were flat-out brutal. Fortunately I was still an athlete, and in my high school, being a good athlete, especially if you were involved in a number of different sports, gave you automatic "acceptable" status. You could stumble into your first class in sweats and a tank top, with wet hair, no makeup, and still brushing your teeth after early practice and nobody would raise a carefully groomed eyebrow. So I rode out high school with the same few athletic female friends and a variety of male friends. In college I majored in male-dominated fields (engineering and philosophy), and so still avoided making many female friends. This trend continues, and I still tend to have mostly male friends.

As a feminist, this often puts me in a strange position. Most of my drinking buddies (when I still had time to be out drinking all the time) are male. It's not uncommon for me to be sitting at a booth at the bar with 4 or 5 guys. This means it's not uncommon for me to be in on the conversations they have about the women in the bar, which has led to a number of (ahem) "interesting" conversations.

But the thing that really strikes me lately is a certain feature of hetero male culture that seems deeply inconsistent to me. If a group of straight guys is discussing something unpleasant, like a tax audit, or some stressful event at work, or an upcoming exam, or some interaction with police, they always, always, always use the same analogy. Which is? ...you guessed it: getting fucked in the ass. Yep. That's it. In hetero-man-language, this is how you convey that something is veryveryvery unpleasant and/or painful. It's a staple in movies that are meant to appeal to men. The most recent instance of this that I've seen was in Hancock. But most male-oriented comedies and action movies play off this meme. We could talk about the latent homophobia involved here, or take this discussion in a number of different directions. But what's really interesting to me is the deeply contradictory message involved.

At the same time as anal penetration is held up in hetero male culture as the ultimately painful/humiliating/unpleasant experience, it's also held up as one of the premium sexual experiences any man can have - IF he's on the penetrating end. The plethora of articles in men's magazines and on men's websites that instruct men on how to get their girlfriend/wife to have anal sex is staggering. Based on the sheer quantity of coverage, it seems like they're obsessed with it. For examples, click here or here or here or here or here. Seriously. So on the one hand, anal penetration is the thing hetero males are supposed to spend their entire lives working as hard as they possibly can to avoid, while on the other hand they're exhorted to pursue it at all costs with their female partners. Which leads to this question. If anal penetration is the horrible, painful, humiliating thing you imagine it to be, why would you ever want a woman you love, or one you respect and to whom you're attracted, to experience it? If it's this horrendous experience, why, oh why, are you expending so much energy trying to inflict it on someone else? And if you expect women to be open to trying it, why continue to use it as the ultimate analogy for all things negative? Don't you think we hear you when you talk? Don't you think we get that you associate anal sex with pain and humiliation? Seriously. Someone needs to explain this to me. It seems to me like there's some deep and subtle misogyny involved here. Tell me if/why I'm wrong.




*Possibly coming soon: a summary of the paper I wrote in grad school on ancient Greek/Roman sexual attitudes toward actively penetrating vs. being penetrated (which probably answers my own questions...).

57 comments:

  1. Michael3/31/2009

    I want to hear about your paper. I'll bet the Greeks saw it as a sign of lower social status to be sexualy penetrated, right? My guess is that ther's a similar dynamic here. So that does kind of indicate a misogynistic mindset here, since it's supposed to be totally acceptable and not painful or humiliating for a woman to be anally penetrated. Interesting. I've never thought about that before.

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  2. MRAman3/31/2009

    If you don't like butt sex you should just say so. Nobody would be surprised anyway, since everyone knows feminists are always opposed to things men like.

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  3. Wow, MRAman. So funny, and so mature! I'm impressed. You don't know anything about my sexual preferences. For all you know I'm a lesbian, or completely asexual. But by all means, interpret it as entirely about a personal, emotional preference. Way to use an old and tired patriarchal trick to silence women. Where'd you learn that, MRA 101?

    I'm not deleting your comments, as I usually do with MRAs, because I'm in a particularly generous mood today. But you're walking a thin line. Keep up the insulting comments and you'll be gone.

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  4. I am not sure the 'fucked in the ass' comment to espress something undesirable is a male phenomenon.

    My and I are getting divorce, and when I mentioned trying mediation she said she wants to get lawyers and 'fuck [me] in the ass.'

    Maybe that is an fluke occurrence, but it could be an indication that both sexes use it to refer to something unpleasant.

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  5. @ Steven

    I would guess that she used the phrase because she was talking to you and intentionally using a meme from guy culture. In my experience women don't tend to use the phrase. On the other hand, I don't hang out with women that much...

    That sucks though. Hope everything goes OK for you. =(

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  6. Ashley4/01/2009

    The whole anal is the worst thing ever for a man to experience, but it's something that men are then to try and convince their (female) SOs to participate in. It was never something I understood because, to me, if you had no problem with having anal sex with a woman, there should be no difference if it were to happen with a man. After all the anus and colon are the same, male of female. Although,
    I suppose if you consider it in the cultural context of women=lesser than men=bad and how then the penetrated=woman leading to the loss of of the oh so coveted masculinity could be a problem.

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  7. "If anal penetration is the horrible, painful, humiliating thing you imagine it to be, why would you ever want a woman you love, or one you respect and to whom you're attracted, to experience it?"

    Because men get off on subjugating, humiliating, and dominating women. Power tripping. And women are supposed to like it (we're biologically "hard wired" to be happily dominated by men aren't we?) so men don't have to stop and consider how it feels for someone else.

    BTW, I'm a pro domme and many of my male clients want to be penetrated with a strap-on. I'd say half of those enjoy it simply for the sexual aspect and don't place it in a "gay" or "submissive" or "subjugated" context. The other half very much gets off on anal sex as something that is supposed to be humiliating, feminizing and painful. Often they want to pretend to be women or even children getting "ass fucked." Because that's the proper context for it in their minds.

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  8. @ Peridot

    I'd say half of those enjoy it simply for the sexual aspect and don't place it in a "gay" or "submissive" or "subjugated" context. The other half very much gets off on anal sex as something that is supposed to be humiliating, feminizing and painful.

    That's really interesting. I think the cultural mythology would claim that all straight-identified men who pursue anal penetration are either closeted gays or turned on by the subjugation/humiliation aspect of it. And it's ironic that it would actually help the cause of straight men who are constantly trying to get their female partners to try anal if our cultural attitudes toward it were more relaxed and open (for both genders). But this, of course, would require letting go of the precious mythology we seem to be so invested in.

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  9. I second Michael's request. Bring on the paper. And I think you should have left the offensive MRA comments up, because they were pretty amusing.

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  10. Velvet Acid Christ4/07/2009

    I think feminists have a problem with over analyzing virtually every aspect of human behaviour. If your not fond of a particular sexual act, refrain from the activity. You guys have an uncanny knack of demonizing virtually every aspect of masculinity -- simply because you don't agree or just don't understand.

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  11. Anonymous4/07/2009

    Velvet Acid Christ:

    I "don't agree or just don't understand" your inability to differentiate between "your" and "you're."

    If you had any reading comprehension skills, you'd understand that she wasn't criticizing anal sex itself, but rather the hypocrisy that men exhibit when they employ it as a metaphor for something unpleasant and painful, yet simultaneously want to inflict it on women in their life that they supposedly care about. Seriously, if Cosmo ran articles called "Bend Over Boyfriend: 50 Ways To Trick Your Guy Into Taking Up the Ass!" men would fucking riot.

    I also didn't realize that anal sex is an inherent "aspect of masculinity." My guy friends will be very interested to learn this. Thank you for your biological insights.

    For the record, I am a woman and a feminist who enjoys being on the receiving end of anal sex with my also feminist boyfriend. So go fuck yourself.

    Seriously, you are fucking dumb as a post.

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  12. Isn't that what she's saying? Asking the question - why do many men express these two conflicting behaviors?

    Why don't you enlighten us, Christ?

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  13. Velvet Acid Christ4/07/2009

    "So go fuck yourself."

    "Seriously, you are fucking dumb as a post."



    Wow! Did someone let an axe yielding feminist join the debate? Damn, that's some harsh language.

    Interesting how a disagreement is twisted into me having some kind of 'comprehension' issue.

    I see how it works. People who don't adhere to feminist theory simply don't understand. Most supremacist movements share the same philosophy because a megalomaniac can never be wrong.

    If your selling crazy, I'm not buying.

    Oh, by the way, tell your 'pro feminist' (ie: castrated man slave) boyfriend the anus is an exit, not an entrance.

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  14. Dear Velvet:

    It seems you're having a masculinity crisis.


    Get well soon,
    Sarah

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  15. Perhaps V.A.C. should try anal sex. Rest assured: Your masculinity and sexual orientation (whatever they may be) will remain intact.

    Masculinity need not require one to constantly defend it with the use of synecdochic rhetoric (which is often times very demeaning to women and LGBTQ individuals) as a means to prove that one is - in fact - still a man with appropriately manly genitals.

    I don't expect everyone to accept this view as point of fact (especially those who feel the overwhelming need to provocatively display their hyper-masculine / macho behaviour through actions which, in and of themselves, are tailored to assert dominance and lord one's sense of superiority over others).

    That said, I'm a man, I'm attracted to people of all walks of life (bi/pan-sexual... whichever designation you prefer) and enjoy anal sex (*gasp!*). So, while it's quite possible that I'll catch some flack for these seemingly contradictory attributes (heh), I welcome whatever discussion it may spark, if any.

    Feminism is a movement for liberation, the primary goal of which is to create social parity between all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class or any other number or combination of possible traits. It began with women's rights (the right to suffrage) and has evolved to include the rights of everyone. I emphasize: EVERYONE.

    I do hope that has cleared up a few things, especially for MRAs who feel that their rights are being violated. The violation is constantly shared by others who don't have the long-standing societal privilege of being born as (generally) white, straight men.

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  16. Velvet Acid Christ4/07/2009

    Considering your a male feminist, I find it necessary to ask you a question: When you urinate, do you sit or stand?

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  17. Hey V.A.C.,

    Have you ever read Patrick D. Hopkins' Gender Treachery? He posits that the reason some men have so much vitriol towards other men who display any feminine characteristics is that they have so much of their identity tied up in notions of 'masculinity' (defined simply as NOT a woman), that any threat to traditional definitions of masculinity is a threat to personal identity.

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  18. VAC how can you criticize anonymous for their ad hominem attacks, and then use your own?

    Please explain to us how anal sex is emasculating. Please explain to us why it is ok for women to receive anal sex but not for men.

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  19. I must admit I've never heard of an "axe yielding feminist" before. But I can't imagine why Christ would be so scared of them, given their propensity to go around giving up their weapons.

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  20. Velvet Acid Christ4/07/2009

    Sarah:


    I never said anal sex was emasculating. As a heterosexual its something I choose not to engage in. My girlfriend feels the same way. As far as being on the receiving end, I'm not gay so the idea of having a penis in my anus is not something I find arousing. Does that make me a homophobic?


    Erin writes: "traditional definitions of masculinity"

    I don't see the feminist ideology on masculinity relevant because your movement only discusses the negatives. You engage in communal blame. You've succeeded in creating ac society of self loathing men. Patrick is a prime example. Words like patriachry, privilege, and oppression are used as nothing more then a guilt trip.

    With that said, can you name ONE positive aspect of traditional masculinity?

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  21. I'm not sure what exactly is meant by traditional masculinity, but a positive aspect of masculinity as I define it is easy. Strength for one. Let me know if you need more.

    And that is sad that feminism makes you feel guilty or bad about yourself, but unless you feel all men are the same, I don't see how you can project those feelings on all other men.

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  22. Lizzay4/07/2009

    @ V.A.C.

    Your disagreement was characterized as a comprehension issue because you don't seem to have actually read the post. If you think this post is about the author not liking anal sex then you need some serious help with your reading skills. Unless you have some kind of learning disability, in which case that would makes more sense.

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  23. Velvet Acid Christ4/07/2009

    Lizzay:

    I never thought her piece was about condemning anal sex. Maybe I lost interest in the article as soon as I read words like 'misogyny' and 'homophobia'. When those words appear, we're usually in store for some anti male dribble Do I still need help?

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  24. And I disagree that feminism ONLY discusses the negatives, though I do think it is a valid critique of feminism that it focuses so heavily on the negative. I stopped being interested in Feminist issues for a while once because I felt I was getting bogged down with the negativity. But as I got older, I found it easier to be a feminist and focus more on the positive and I haven't found it that difficult to participate in the feminist blogosphere and still focus on the positive.

    What I find confusing though is that even when I was really disliking the negative focus of feminism, I never felt the need to demonize feminists or feminism. I continue to be critical of feminism because it is something I care about, but I don't understand your vitriol.

    And I see feminism as a positive for many men because not ALL men are going to be able to or going to want to fit into rigid ideas of masculinity. And the attitudes about men that you've demonstrated just in these comments are more likely to have a negative effect on men than anything I've ever written as a feminist.

    And I don't understand the tendency to view feminists as monolith. Do you really think that's true, or is that just intellectual laziness?

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  25. "Maybe I lost interest in the article as soon as I read words like 'misogyny'"

    If you didn't read the article, why are you trying to have a discussion about it?

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  26. Which leads to this question. If anal penetration is the horrible, painful, humiliating thing you imagine it to be, why would you ever want a woman you love, or one you respect and to whom you're attracted, to experience it? If it's this horrendous experience, why, oh why, are you expending so much energy trying to inflict it on someone else?

    I know it's probably been gone over elsewhere, but one could use the "fucked up the ass" comment as a colloquialism and not believe or imagine anal sex has to be a horrendous experience.

    Along those lines, Peridot mentioned that about 1/2 of her BDSM clients don't see anal penetration as submissive/subjugated (at least the very least in regards to their own ass) which suggest to me that the notion that all or even most men view anal sex as horrible is an overstatement.

    I would have speculated that the BDSM crew would be more likely than the general population to assume that anal penetration to have submissive/subjugation dimensions.

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  27. Anonymous4/08/2009

    "which suggest to me that the notion that all or even most men view anal sex as horrible is an overstatement."

    You've just justified the hypocrisy of the men that use the fucked up the ass statement then.

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  28. I find it interesting that to some, criticism of bad male behavior = anti-male. One would have to actually believe that males are defined by such bad behavior to think that. Personally, I think that insults men just as much as women. Patrick D. Hopkins' Gender Treachery sounds interesting. I found that a common theme between sexists, racists/racial supremacists, the prejudice, etc. is threat of their own identity. Like somehow they can't take responsibility for their own identity, it has to be shared by everyone in order to have merit.

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  29. Sorry, should have read Threat "to" their identity.

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  30. Anonymous4/08/2009

    The reason why people are upset is because you've cast a rather large stereotype over a lot of people. There's a lot of collateral damage when you say things like

    "If a group of straight guys is discussing
    something unpleasant, like a tax audit, or
    some stressful event at work, or an upcoming
    exam, or some interaction with police, they
    always, always, ALWAYS use the same analogy."

    The thing is it's not "always"*3. There are a lot of hetero men who never make anal jokes, there are others that do but don't want to have anal sex. There are still others who may make the joke then be really into pegging or something. You can't lump a really large group of people together like that and say they're all the same and then cherry pick some articles from crappy websites like askmen as justification for labeling everyone in the group as the same.

    For example it is a fact that "heterosexual women never never NEVER have ambition and are all looking for sugardaddies," and as proof look at articles like http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/dating/Fascinating-Facts-About-Rich-Guys.

    If the above statement about all hetero women offended you that's because it is an indefensible typecasting of a lot of people, a portion of which may fulfill the stereotype. You wonder why so many MRAs were upset by your post put yourself in the shoes of someone reading a blog post about women looking for rich men like that. People don't like to be put in bins on any terms but their own.

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  31. @ Anonymous

    I agree that it's too broad of a statement, so I should have said that the use of the anal sex analogy is extremely prevalent among straight men or something like that. I don't think I know any straight men who don't use that analogy, or at least don't laugh when someone else does. But I agree that there are probably some who don't, and for many of them who do, acting as if they would never consider anal sex is probably a way of "passing" around other men.

    But I disagree that we can't critique these gendered behavior patterns. I'm just as ready to crititque the bullshit gendered behavior that so many women mindlessly engage in. I realize that both men and women are socialized to behave in these ways, but by the time you're a self-aware adult, you can choose not to engage. I cannot stand it when women dumb themselves down and act all giddy and frivolous. If you object to the cultural attitudes that portray women as irrational, overemotional, and not to be taken seriously, then there's absolutely no reason why you should be acting that way. I realize that not all women do act that way - I myself don't and never have. But it's still a prominent feature of straight female culture, and I have critiqued it in the same way that I critiqued this aspect of straight male culture. Nobody's exempt, in my view.

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  32. To anon at April 8, 2009 12:07 AM.

    I don't think that 'hypocracy' is the right word to use here.

    The use of a colloquialism is not hypocrisy if you don't follow through with it literally.

    Campaigning against homosexuality then being caught requesting anonymous gay sex in a bathroom is hypocritical.

    Saying you are for family values then being charged for domestic violence would be hypocritical.

    Saying you are opposed to anal sex because it is evil and degenerate... you see where I am going.

    Using a colloquialism? Not so much.

    Think of it this way... If a dude says that dudes should not be penetrated (for what ever reason) and then that dude refuses to be penetrated, then he is not a hypocrite.

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  33. Lizzay4/08/2009

    @ V.A.C.

    You said this:
    If your not fond of a particular sexual act, refrain from the activity.

    which seems strange if you really

    never thought her piece was about condemning anal sex.

    Oh, and the contraction for "you are" is actually "you're," not "your."

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  34. Anonymous4/08/2009

    Wow. The person that said feminists tend to over ANALyze too much is correct. I know, I couldn't resist that one. Another problem I've noticed is that feminists have turned puritan/purists in their beliefs. This means that everything is taken literally; in its absolute pure meaning. No disrespect on your blog, but we've all learned that the muscle gel called Icy-Hot is a literary tool known as an oxymoron and it would not make sense to take this literally. The same goes with the "guy culture" and "guy slang". Taking what is obviously a meataphor and a figure of speech and then applying a literal translation to it so as to say "guys" are engaging in double-talk and or double standards is highly disingenuous. Lastly, it's a bit post-Freudian of you to assume that every subjective sexual statement has some concrete sexual objective intent, and if not then it is repressed.
    -Ben

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  35. @ Ben

    But I don't think you understand what I'm saying. I'm not taking the metaphor literally. That would amount to me thinking they werer actually anally penetrated by their boss, the IRS auditor, whatever. Despite my feminist stance, I do actually understand metaphorical language. That's why I referred to it as an analogous use of language.

    But that's different from analyzing the social attitudes behind a saying or phrase. Among men I know, the phrase is only ever used as a negative. It only describes negative experiences. It is in a metaphorical way, and I'm ok with that, but I'm questioning the negative associations. That's what I'm interested in. Because if anal penetration is always used as a metaphor for very painful or humiliating experiences, then anal penetration itself must be seen as a painful and humiliating thing. That's the way metaphors work. You wouldn't say "that exam was so fucking hard - it was like eating jelly beans while floating on a fluffy white cloud." If you want to indicate that something was negative, you choose a negative experience to compare it to. And yet even as men seem to view anal penetration as something that's super painful and humiliating, it's also seen as OK and even very desireable to do it to your girlfriend. That's what my question involves, not the whole metaphorical-use-of-language thing.

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  36. Rachel,

    We are working with "If, then" statements. If fucking/anal is a bad word, then people don't want to fuck/do anal.

    People refer to fucking all the time as a bad thing (fucking expensive, fucking stupid, dumb fuck) but love fucking and not wish ill or harm upon those they want to fuck.

    Just look at the term fuck-buddy.

    I think the situation is much the same with regards to anal sex. You can say "fucked in the ass" as a figurative unpleasant experience, but believe that the actual experience could be pleasurable.

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  37. Anonymous4/08/2009

    Wow. A golden rule for sex! That's really a first for me! This is what I mean by feminists having puritan/purist views. So let me get this straight. A giver of X can only give X if that same giver only likes to receive X, otherwise, if the giver on likes to give it but NOT be given unto, then that it somehow faulty? Never mind that some people enjoy giving oral sex more than they like receiving, but I digress.
    -Ben

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  38. Greco-Roman attitudes toward pederasty, vis-a-vis passive anal intercourse, were a dynamic of ageism more than anything.

    In any case, I find it amusing that a woman who decries patriarchal agency within representations/interpretations of femininity has such interest in her own ultracrepidations.

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  39. Anonymous4/08/2009

    Ugh. I get so tired of MRA's and antifeminists coming into a feminist space and trying to prove our very basic beliefs wrong. There is nothing wrong with dissenting opinion, but attacking all feminists and treating us as a monolith is not a different viewpoint, it's a personal attack.

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  40. @Ben

    Your dedication to misinterpreting me is commendable. You gotta be good at something, I guess.

    I fail to see where I suggested a golden rule for sex. If you'd like to attribute some claim to me, please provide quotes. If you can't provide quotes, then feel free to wrestle with the little strawman you made up, but don't expect to be taken seriously here.

    There's a huge difference between saying that you ought to always be willing to reciprocate sexually and saying that if you think of a sex act as intrinsically painful and humiliating, then you ought not to try to convince someone you love to suffer through it just for you. I'm not talking here about women who like anal sex and are already OK with it. I'm talking about the coercive attitude that's suggested by the plethora of how-to's out there educating men on how to coerce their female SOs into trying it and putting up with it even if it's painful for them. There's a huge difference between a couple deciding together that they want to try something and one person deciding s/he wants to experience it and then setting out to manipulate his/her partner into it - especially when it's something that he clearly perceives as being horribly painful and humiliating.

    Does that make more sense to you? I'm not sure I could break it down into any more elementary of a structure.

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  41. @ Kevin

    Gee, thanks so much for educating me on Greco-Roman attitudes. It sure is a pity the year I spent researching this topic in grad school was such a total waste, seeing as how I could have just relied on your one-sentence summary.

    You're actually right that age was a factor - more in Greece than in Rome. But there's a basic fact about this that you don't get. Being the passive partner was actually just fine if you were the younger of the two. Similarly, if you were of lower social status and had a "mentor" type relationship with your partner, it was considered to be just fine. The problem with men being anally penetrated for both Greeks and Romans was if they were already of an older or higher social status, and they pursued relationships in which they were the passive partner. This kind of behavior was harshly criticized because it was thought to be inappropriate, as the passive partner was acting as if he was inferior to the active one. Some sources characterize it as "acting like a woman" or "like a slave." So age was a factor, but only insofar as it indicated lower social standing and therefore the appropriateness of being penetrated.

    Good guess, though.

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  42. @ Steven

    Yeah, I wouldn't go so far as to say that anal is a bad word. I think for many, many people anal sex is something they enjoy, and it's totally consensual. I'm talking about the attitude behind always using "getting fucked in the ass" as a negative comparison and what it reveals about its intrinsic negativity.

    However, the "you're so fucked" thing is relevant here, and I think it possibly brings up another option that I hadn't considered. I have a friend in linguistics who studies the etymology of obscene words. According to her research "fuck" was originally pretty violent (the phonic structure of it is really violent as well, which is what makes it so satisfying to say it when you're angry) and so there was a sort of rape or violence connotation that isn't there now. So saying "fuck you" had a kind of non-consent or painful/violent connotation it may not have now.

    So it might be a parallel to this situation. Some of my friends (online and in RL) have suggested that when men use the "fucked in the ass" meme they're thinking "raped in the ass," since in our culture anal penetration is supposed to be something that a straight man would never do voluntarily. Since you would never admit to agreeing to anal penetration, at least around your straight friends, it's implied that the anal penetration you're metaphorically referring to was forced and nonconsensual. In that case, there probably is no double standard here. If straight men always mean "anal rape" when they use this analogy, then it wouldn't be comparable to consensual anal sex with their girlfriend.

    However the coercive tone of many of the how-to's is still problematic. And the "knotch in your bedpost" approach to it is as well. Big time problematic.

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  43. I thought the original meaning of fuck was to cleave/penetrate... don't know exactly where I learned that, or how true it is, but it pretty easy to see how that could morph into penile vaginal intercourse.

    But the coercive fucked in the ass makes sense. Look at the term 'getting bent over,' clearly someone is doing the bending, especially if barrel is in the area.

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  44. Anonymous4/09/2009

    Quoting Rachel,
    "And yet even as men seem to view anal penetration as something that's super painful and humiliating, it's also seen as OK and even very desireable to do it to your girlfriend."

    And...

    "Which leads to this question. If anal penetration is the horrible, painful, humiliating thing you imagine it to be, why would you ever want a woman you love, or one you respect and to whom you're attracted, to experience it?"

    Sorry Rachel, but that just seems so holier-than-thou, moralistic, golden-rule preaching. It's meaning to me suggests do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You have just stated it in the negative form, ie, if X is bad and don't want it to happen to you, then why would you want to do it to someone else. If that's what you believe, that's fine, but I still see the golden rule principle in it.
    -Ben

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  45. Anonymous4/09/2009

    I suppose you are against BDSM, or you only question the mores of the people that like to give it and not receive it?
    -Ben

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  46. @ Ben

    What does this have to do with BDSM? I'm assuming that people involved in BDSM have both consented to it and enjoy it, so why would I have a problem with it? You seem to have some strange ideas about my worldview that couldn't possibly have come from this blog. Are you confusing me with someone else, perhaps?

    On the other hand if one partner was coercively trying to force the other to participate in BDSM, or any other sexual behavior, then yes, I would have a problem with it.

    And let me break down the golden rule thing a little further for you. The golden rule is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Your claim is that I'm saying men who don't want to be anally penetrated should not anally penetrate their female partners because of the golden rule. But you're just confused about what I'm saying.

    I'm saying that if a man thinks anal penetration is intrinsically painful and humiliating, then it seems hypocritical that he would want to inflict this on a woman he claims to love. I am not saying that he should allow her to anally penetrate him first or anything even remotely like that. What I am saying is if you think it's a horrible thing to do to somebody, then don't do it to the person you love. That's very different from the golden rule.

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  47. Anonymous4/09/2009

    Perhaps I am confused. Well thanks Rachel, I enjoyed the conversation. I do like your blog.
    -Ben

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  48. @ Steven and Rachel

    This might be the more fruitful direction to take the conversation in. If men are actually equating anal penetration with rape when they use it metaphoricaly then it wouldn't necessarily be a double standard.

    But then you have this offensive use of rape as a metaphor for anything unpleasant instead, which downplays the horrible nature of rape and the trauma experienced by people who actually have been raped. So that would make this manner of speaking offensive in a different way. But both men and women are guilty on this count; I've heard women refer to an exam or whatever as "raping them." I think this is problematic for the same reason as casually labeling people you don't like as Nazis is.

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  49. I've known quite a few women who have use the phrase.

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  50. To Riley,

    While the term certainly does downplay rape, I don't think saying something 'raped' them means 'anything unpleasant' but rather a complete loss of agency in the situation being refereed too.

    Of course, a complete loss of agency in a video game or game of Spades is pretty meaningless when compared to a complete loss of agency of a sexual assault, but the root sentiment is what I think is being expressed.

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  51. And the real irony is, us guys have the unfair advantage of possessing prostates, and thus being predisposed towards getting more pleasure from the act. Truly, our sexist culture victimizes men too...

    But I agree with you, the double standard is idiotic. The reactions of certain trollish commentators, even more so.

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  52. Coming late to this thread, but just my two cents:

    The expression dates from times when anal-sex really wasn't as "mainstream" as it is nowadays. These were times when the stigma against gays was terribly strong and overtly professed by "good-thinking people" and back then, the association Gay/pedophilia/rapist was wide-spread.

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  53. Scarbo7/14/2011

    I think Riley has got it right. Most heterosexual men have no interest in engaging in homosexual sexual acts and would expect them to be unpleasant experiences. For a heterosexual man of this kind to be penetrated anally or even to give another man a blow job, he would have to be coerced in some fashion, hence the negative connotation when a heterosexual man is on the receiving end of anal sex.

    Conversely, almost any natural sexual act engaged in by a heterosexual man with a woman is going to be viewed as a much more pleasant personal experience by a heterosexual man than sexual acts carried out with a man, hence why anal sex with women is viewed as a much more desirable experience.

    There need be no hypocrisy or double standard.

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  54. I might try it MAYBE one time but if I didn't like it, I wouldn't go further with it. And if I was coerced, I could just go and use a dildo in my vagina and orgasm 50 times, just the way I usually do. :)

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  55. By the way, men typically do not undergo any major sacrifices for women. What do women sacrifice?
    Let's see:

    1. Career (to have THEIR children)
    2. time (to cook, clean and take care of them)

    And now.. we have to sacrifice our precious buttholes ALL BECAUSE it's becoming a popular trend.

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  56. Anonymous2/02/2013

    Remember that for many men "getting fucked" is directly tied in with losing their gender status as a man. Getting "fucked" i.e. penetrated is something that is "supposed" to only happen to women in a patriarchial context.In this context, if penetration happens to a man, it is often seen as an indicator that he is gay, even if the man experiences penetration within a heterosexual relationship. So if penetration happens to a man, he allegedly ceases to be "a man" because he has stepped outside of the requirements of his gender role. This is obviously very homophobic , but I would assert that this homophobic perspective is very widespread among men.

    On the other hand, men who express a desire to have anal sex with a woman are obviously not expressing a desire to strip women of their gender status. I would guess that these men are often have a desire to be in a sexually dominant role or "top" role with a consenting female partner who enjoys being in a more submissive or a "bottom" role. These men may or may not see women as a group as being "naturally" submissive to men as a group (not all sexually dominant or "top" men are sexist). Men who have a sexually dominant, or a "top" orientation might believe that having anal sex with a woman is a validation of their masculinity, because anal is a "forbidden" (and thus sometimes more desirable) form of penetration. Women who consent to anal sex with a man within our culture are (in my opinion) admitting to wanting something that they not "supposed" to want. This might indicate that the man who a woman has anal with is seen as very desirable, and/or as a better or more seductive lover (because he was able to help her feel comfortable with admitting to wanting a form of sex that it is often difficult for a woman to admits that she wants). So, for these reasons, a hetero man who prefers to be in a more dominant, or a "top" role might feel emotionally validated by his female partner's enjoyment of anal with him.

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