The normalization of anal sex.

The author of this post has asked to remain anonymous.

“I have to wonder how many teenage girls first learn about anal sex via rape, as I did.

Normalizing anal sex only increases the already heightened pressure on girls to perform sex acts which have very little to do with love. The problem with being “sex positive” is that it is not the same as being love positive; it is not positive at all, when it comes to feelings, feelings which for adult women are complex when it comes to sex, and which for teenage girls who are forming a personal and sexual identity during an impressionable time of life particularly should not be navigated lightly. Yet that is exactly what articles like this aim to do: normalize “kink” and extreme sex acts for teenage girls–and teenage boys–a population for whom necking and dry-humping with someone you like, someone who is also learning, should still be the height of excitement.

I was raped by my much-older boyfriend as a teenager, and I didn’t call it rape for years, because I didn’t know a person could be raped by someone she was in a sexual relationship with. I didn’t know anything about “grooming,” or what that meant, even as it was happening to me; I had never received any sort of education about consent, or about sexual respect, boundaries, or about how to look out for myself in a world full of men who cared little for my humanity but a lot for what they could do to my body. Imagine how much harder it will be for teen girls to identify rape by boyfriends in a world in which they are supposed to be “the cool girl?”

For all those who love anal sex, I’m so happy for you. I suppose you have not experienced anal rape on more than one occasion, as I have. I also suppose you have not been coerced into it on other occasions. I guess you have never had a boyfriend angrily shove his thumb up your ass because you said “no” to anal sex, and he inferred you had done it with other men but would not with him. I suppose, though, that is better than a boyfriend who rapes you with his penis for saying “no” to anal, isn’t it? Who would have thought that when I finally got the wherewithal to say “no” to something I had always found painful and degrading, I would be forced anyway, and that when I was finally old enough to know you could be raped by someone you were sleeping with, it wouldn’t matter anyway?

I feel quite certain more girls are anally raped now than ever before, because of porn, and that more men feel more entitled to do that to a woman who says no, because articles such as this in a publication like Teen Vogue tell them that girls and women are being unreasonable when they make this sex act off-limits.

FTR, my most recent rapist ex apparently has preferred anal since he was a teenager, which means he has been coercing girls and women for a long time. It was quite clear it was all about “conquering,” about regaining power after perceived rejection, with him. For other men, it was also clearly about this kind of power, the rush they got from coercing and degrading a woman (or, for some, the validation and acceptance they felt in her complete surrender), as well as the desire to “own” every part of a woman’s body; for a few it was merely about entitlement, which is an expression of power in and of itself, a power which is arrogantly assumed rather than one which is violently sought.

More power to you, anal-lovers. I’m so glad you survived your adolescence and young womanhood thus far unscathed, and don’t have to do any of the tough kind of soul-searching of trying to figure out just *what it is about me* without veering into victim-blaming territory. If only my sex life were as easy for me as “enjoying or not enjoying anal.”

8 thoughts on “The normalization of anal sex.

  1. Amy December 23, 2017 at 17:42 Reply

    Really cool, I like this writer! How do I see more of her work? There is no link.

    • Francois Tremblay December 24, 2017 at 01:23 Reply

      I don’t know if she wants her writings to be public. I will mention this comment and she’ll probably reply to you one way or the other.

    • Francois Tremblay December 25, 2017 at 17:58 Reply

      She has asked to not be made public. I apologize.

      • Ellie Kesselman January 1, 2018 at 20:13 Reply

        I can understand the author’s unwillingness to have her writing be publicly identified. Verbal harassment and threats of extreme physical violence by transgenders to lesbians (and anyone who does not support the erasure of women as biologically distinct human beings) are now commonplace. I probably should be posting anonymously as well.

        • unabashed January 6, 2018 at 22:17 Reply

          This is unfortunately true. However, it’s mostly because I don’t want my full name associated with my history of repeated rape (my full name was up before, therefore easy to find this entry by Googling; I have also taken my name off my WordPress blog).

          At least, not until the day I decide to write about my experience and what I have learned about sexuality and about violence and about men and women, and publish it. Until then, people really don’t understand why someone could be raped so many times, and they would judge me, not my assailants (it’s also not necessarily something I want people just Googling my name and knowing…again, until I decide to write and publish a book about it).

          Thanks for your support (and the link to the original article)! :)

    • unabashed January 6, 2018 at 22:13 Reply

      Hi, Amy! I’m glad you liked my writing.

      Here is a longer essay on the same subject:

      Bright Star

      When I am twenty-six years old I have a boyfriend named Daisuke. He asks me about it once—one time only—and I say, “I don’t do that anymore.”

      I don’t go into detail. I don’t talk about my first time, with the first person I ever let inside me, when I was seventeen, someone persuasive, someone I should never have slept with. How one morning, in the shower, when I thought Jesse was in the kitchen making breakfast, I found myself pushed up against the wall, his hand on the back of my neck. How much it hurt, how I bit down hard on my tongue, and saw stars, and lost consciousness for a few seconds from the pain of it; how I didn’t cry out, because the pain and surprise had robbed me of my voice. I don’t describe for my boyfriend how eerily quiet Jesse was, for such a big man, stripping off his clothes and stepping into the shower behind me, as I rubbed shampoo into my hair; how he didn’t make a sound throughout, both of us on silent like the world had hit the mute button during the violent act that left me bleeding.

      I don’t tell Daisuke how I always gave in to anal sex, out of love, when boyfriends wheedled and whined. I also don’t tell him how out of all the rapes and assaults—followed on subways, backed into corners at nightclubs, grabbed at work, touched at the movie theater, menaced backstage on opening night, preyed on while drunk, while asleep, while sick and alone, bedridden in a low-budget guesthouse in a foreign country—the other one that hurt the most involved this particular act: my best friend’s sometime-hookup, casual love interest, current crush, tried to stick it in my ass, before he took the easy way in, leaving me to worry for a month that I was pregnant.

      I don’t tell my boyfriend how during that incident I came to, naked, on all fours, in pitch blackness except for the watery streetlight filtering in from outside, and heard a voice (not me! It couldn’t be me!), a pathetic whimper: Stop, it hurts. It hurts, it hurts. Stop, stop. How Eddie had walked me home “for safety,” that weekend night my best friend was out of town, just days after a huge fight that I didn’t know about, between the two of them. I don’t tell Daisuke how ashamed I felt, in the morning, recollecting the beginning of the night—when Eddie had come alone into the bar where I worked—how, already smashed, like everyone else, every night, on shots bought by coworkers, by end-of-shift patrons who showed up just to buy the summer girls drinks, I had run up to him, giggling, flirtatious, and put my hand on his shoulder: “Eddie!” And thinking back over the incident how I felt the shame leak through my body, recalling his early-evening words to me when I touched his shoulder, spoken in that low, dark voice, cast my way with a mean side-eye: I’m going to fuck you in the ass.

      I don’t tell Daisuke how I’d laughed it off, drunk, gone off with someone else. How Eddie hadn’t—forgotten—he’d nursed his beer and his hatred all night, kept his slope-shouldered crick-necked bar-slump side-eye shined my way, and when everyone else had left he had come over, all friendly, to buy me more drinks.

      That school year, August ‘07 to May of ‘08, began with a man named Genghis, at the end of my first night out in a long while—a studious student, then—taking me by the arm despite my feeble protests and steering me into a cab. An act that unleashed a barrage of memories, every instance of violence I had never talked about: my first love Efrain’s hands around my throat, his hard punches on my arms, where the bruises wouldn’t show. The men who had touched me, fondled me, groped me, harassed me, forced me, used me, first at age ten, six if you count the jovial, red-bearded Bill and his gifts of panties and kisses on the mouth. All those memories going off like a bomb in my brain until I decided at some point I wanted one of them to kill me, began going out looking for the meanest asshole around. Eric, Erik, Ben, Mike. Some whose names I don’t remember, others I never knew. In the end they were all too cowardly; once soothed, the dark ache, they were done with me.

      Sipping drinks on the Flag Brew patio with Eddie, as I began the long slow slide toward a black-out, that weekend night of summer ’08, that year in which all I wanted was for someone to take me home and kill me, I remember thinking, it’s so nice he’s treating me like a friend.

      And in the morning, waking up where he’d left me, head by the door, stretched out on the wood of my living room floor. Lying on my back, my first thought: I had a flashback dream. About Eddie, of all people. How strange. Looking down at my naked body, seeing the small hairs on my belly flashing gold in the sunlight through the picture window. The weight of shame, the weight of guilt, keeping me home all day, rooted to the landing midway between floors curled up in a ball with my head in my hands, keeping me away from the pharmacy, a pill to put my mind at ease, away from the police station, not even thinking about reporting, not after what happened the last time. When I agreed to let him walk me home I forgot he said that, that awful thing; how could I have forgotten that? I kind of flirted with him, didn’t I, when I put my hand on his shoulder? He must have thought I wanted it.

      I don’t tell Daisuke how, not long later, after burying that incident down deep in a dark hole and graduating with honors, I got involved with Jay, a creep who made disparaging, objectifying remarks about my body in private, couldn’t stop looking around to see who was checking me out in public. Who, because he was recently divorced and, in his own words, “afraid of vaginas,” wanted only that; and I gave it to him. How sick it made me feel inside, at a time in my life in which I was falling in love for the first time with a woman, working hard, saving up to go abroad, learning a new sport. Bursting with manic energy, frantically busy in my desire to forget what I remembered every time I walked through the creep’s door and had that kind of sex with him again.

      I don’t tell Daisuke any of this. I don’t tell him I have decided to love myself more than boyfriends. That I have decided some things I need to keep back. I have every right to say no, never again, to not offer up this painful symbol of male obsession with conquering every inch of my body. I do not tell him that it does not mean I don’t love him the way I loved other men. I just say, “I don’t do that anymore.”

      One weekend Daisuke and I take a trip to Japan’s Mie prefecture. We rent a cabin with an outdoor shower. The second morning, as we shower together, Daisuke jams his thumb inside that delicate part of me, hard, then walks away, grabbing his towel off the stall door and wrapping it around his waist, slim back stiff as he retreats.

      I breathe in the smell of wet wood planks, feel them beneath my toes. How happy I was, how pleasant it felt, the two of us showering together in what I thought was friendly silence. Sharp smell of sun on wet wood, salt tang of the ocean. I look down at my white feet against the dark wood planks and I don’t understand anything.

      I finish showering, and we go down to the beach together, where I endure a day of Daisuke’s jokes about women’s bodies and beachwear until I finally tell him to shut up. I hurt, all that day, and all the next; and that night, at sunset, as Daisuke lights sparklers on the beach, waving them around like wands, I bury my face in my hands and cry.

      “Carmen, what is wrong?” Daisuke kneels in front of me, holding a sparkler that’s burning down fast. “What is wrong? What is wrong?” He pulls me to my feet. “There is a man making balloons, doing magic tricks and telling jokes. Let’s go see.”

      We drift sadly along the beach, settle in behind the families. I sit down, gingerly, by my boyfriend’s side, as he holds my hand, and watch as a fantastic man juggles objects while scrambling atop two barrels on a high bench, and spins enormous balloon animals for the children’s enjoyment. Listen as my boyfriend translates his silly jokes, and laugh, feeling not like one of the adults but like one of those children, some of whom still have a little snot running down from their noses too. Daylight tears that disappear, slowly into the fading sky: a harsh word, a sudden fall, a sibling destroying a carefully constructed sand castle, all forgiven, all forgotten, in the magic of the entertainer’s glow.

      *

      In the morning, when I open my eyes, my first thought is, he raped me.

      Some mornings, it is phrased slightly differently: Rapist. That rapist. A tinge of spite to it, one that doesn’t make me cry. It’s not a thought I want to hold up to the light and polish. I don’t lie with it, touch myself feverishly, compulsively, the way Robert touched me both times, before he did it.

      Robert, my most recent boyfriend, I did tell. I told him everything, everything that had happened. I told him why I didn’t want to do it, that in fact it meant I loved him more, by loving myself enough to know I did not want to do that again.

      I ignored all the signs, because I was lonely; because, at age thirty-two, nothing had really changed. How, though I had detailed to Robert my ideas about sexual ethics before we ever met, over chat, and he had agreed with me at the time, and agreed to take things slowly, he had pressured me on our first date to have sex, asking and asking after each no until I said yes.

      I ignored how Robert told me, callously, that when we met he had felt disappointed because he thought I must have tricked him somehow, with padded bras, in my online pictures. How gloriously, happily surprised he had been when it was revealed I had been wearing a tank top under my long-sleeved shirt, to flatten and deemphasize my breasts; how he had “slept with me anyway,” despite thinking I might be small-breasted, as if doing me a favor, that first night that he had begged and pushed for sex.

      I ignored the pressure of Robert’s attentions. I ignored the sudden surge of his alcoholism. The way he drew away after coming so close, how hard he pulled my hair during sex, his first violation—how horrified he felt at himself, while forgetting to apologize. I ignored the increasing demands for sexual favors, the pressure, his roughness—choking, spanking, harder hair-pulling—his lack of asking. I ignored each way in which he took advantage of my trust to exploit my weakness until the weekend two weeks after we broke up, when he came over to my apartment and raped me.

      And I ignored it again, when I went back to him, after the police report, after the months of pain when I tried, wounded, misguided, to reach out to him, in long missives. Ignored his past cruelty, when I believed him again, when, having worn out other women, he was lonely, and asked to come back to me, pressuring me again for sex, admitting as he did how horrible he was, for pressuring me, that he should “respect my wishes,” and then doing it again. Asking me didn’t I miss it—sex, with him—even as I said, if we were ever to try to be in each other’s lives, we would have start out as friends.

      I went back to him. Not even hoping he had changed but hoping I had been wrong the first time. That this man, with whom I had fallen in love, in whom I’d placed my trust, who told me he was “not like all the other guys,” he was himself, an individual, not an abuser, that he had just made a mistake. I had made a mistake. It had all been one huge misunderstanding.

      Bright star.

      Even with all his roughness, his coercion and occasional lack of asking, while together he would always ask before he touched me there, stop if I said stop. When I told him to stop asking for that kind of sex at all, he anxiously said that he would.

      “We don’t have to do that now, or ever. I promise I’ll stop asking.”

      Two weeks after he broke up with me, he came over to my apartment and did it anyway.

      Months after that, a week and a half before my thirty-third birthday, in a pitch-black room on a leaky air mattress, watery light of the streetlamp filtering through the blinds, his hand pushed down on the small of my back, Robert begins to touch me there again, without asking.

      He inserts his penis, moans, softly, pulls out for a minute, thrusts in thumb and forefinger, and there it is, that pathetic whimpering: Stop. Ouch.

      Silent now, after my stop, as they all have been—as if there might be something slightly indecorous about moaning, given what’s happening; some unspoken agreement that this is rape and it’s a grim business—Robert inserts his penis again, the weight of his body on top of me. His arms around me pinion mine, tighter than he’s ever held me.

      He starts to pull my hair. Stops himself. Caresses it.

      Suddenly, I am running down the street. I am not here, anymore, beneath his weight, the weight of my former lover, abuser, rapist, as he does the one thing I’ve asked him not to do. He ignores my pain, my face pressed down, my faint cries. I am not here. Not for him any more than for myself.

      I am not in him either—the point of view I have sometimes preferred, to imagine myself the man doing the raping, and how it must feel to him, when he is doing it—I am not here for this oddly intimate act, this inversion of love, this tender hatred. I am running down the street, out the door and bam, gone, I am giddy because he does not own me anymore. Because by doing it again he has owned up to what he’s done and I take no more responsibility for him.

      I feel no more guilt for hurting his feelings. I am trying to love that poor woman who spent a month of her first year back in Tucson curled up in the fetal position. I am trying to love that young woman who curled up one night, on her way home from the bar, in a parking lot in Flagstaff in the dead of winter, and cried for an hour. I am trying to love that girl curled up at night in the park grass, nineteen years old and living in the Phoenix suburbs with her violent boyfriend. I am trying to love these people and feel enraged at their pain, and the men who inflicted it upon them. Not judge these girls, these women, for how pathetic it is that they have been victims, that they have felt responsible for others’ actions, felt deserving of their punishment, and worthless. I am not going to feel guilty ever again for hurting the men who felt entitled to lash out when they could not own what was never theirs to keep.

      All the names they knew me by were never mine. Carmelita. Mamen. Karumen-chan.

      I am flowing out the windows, light and free. I am not even in the room when he asks me, Are you okay, Carmen? Carmen, are you okay?

      • Ellie Kesselman January 8, 2018 at 01:31 Reply

        Hello, unabashed Carmen. I lived in central Phoenix from 2005 to 2014, and now live in the northernmost edge of the city.

        You write well. Everything holds together, which is unusual when women write of abuse and violation. (I am not complaining, just observing.) You have a strong narrative voice.

        Bright Star brought back memories that your original post did not. I am a widow. I had a brief, sad marriage. My deceased husband was disabled, and accidentally or intentionally killed himself at age 45, at home in our bed. When we met, I pursued him. He had already given up on life, after his disabling injury. At the beginning of our relationship, he only wanted anal sex. This puzzled me. I felt inadequate and ashamed. It was infrequent, and he wasn’t rough, but I rarely enjoyed it. After several months together, he told me he loved me. From then on, we had regular sex only, which made me happy. We married. One night, I expressed an interest in anal sex, of my own free will. My husband looked shocked. He hugged me and said that he wouldn’t ever do that to me, because it would hurt me and possibly injure me. The implications were obvious then, and still are. I put this out of my mind for 12 years, until tonight, when I read Bright Star. Thank you for helping me remember. Some of my survivor’s guilt is eased.

  2. Ellie Kesselman January 1, 2018 at 19:58 Reply

    For anyone who questions the reality and legitimacy of this post, here is an archived link to the Teen Vogue article http://archive.is/HeGQ7 I did not provide the original URL, because I don’t want to give Teen Vogue the benefit of ad revenue-generating traffic from their harmful, misogynist article.

    Biologically authentic XX chromosome females are not even referred to as women. Instead, the nihilist verbiage of “vagina owners” is used to denote girls and women.

    The diagrams of the human female reproductive tract include–and label–every major anatomical structure with one exception, the clitoris, yet mainstream media derided objections to this Teen Vogue article as being due to a conservative backlash. Despite failing to include the clitoris in the diagrams and discussion of this sex act that women supposedly enjoy, NBC actually praised the article, see here https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/teen-vogue-s-guide-anal-sex-spawns-backlash-n784411 for:

    highlighting the lack of LGBTQ sex education in the U.S…. Dr. Michael Newcomb of Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, told NBC News that “Teen Vogue did a really nice job. We need sex ed to be accurate and not heteronormative so it’s acceptable to everyone.”

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