South Dakota state Rep. Steve Hickey

GOP lawmaker has so, so many questions about anal sex: "Is the science really settled on this issue?"

South Dakota state Rep. Steve Hickey believes anal sex isn't "good for the body or the mind." He's also a homophobe

Katie McDonough
May 2, 2014 1:29AM (UTC)

While most of the GOP is perfectly content to ignore the advice of medical professionals when it comes to passing sweeping abortion restrictions or laws to criminalize pregnancy outcomes, it's good to know there's at least one issue on which conservatives want to hear from medical experts: anal sex.

Driven by a deep concern that gay couples in South Dakota may soon be able to get married, Republican state Rep. Steve Hickey wrote a letter to the editor -- which has yet to be published, but was posted to the lawmaker's Facebook page -- requesting that doctors and mental health experts weigh in on the apparent dangers of anal sex as an argument against equal marriage. (This makes total sense because straight people do not have anal sex.)


"I'm asking the doctors who practice in our state, is the science really settled on this issue or is it more the case that you feel silenced and intimidated?" Hickey wrote.

"Certainly there are board-certified doctors in our state who will attest to what seems self-evident to so many: gay sex is not good for the body or mind," he continued. "Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down. Frankly, I’d question the judgment of doctor who says it’s all fine."

In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Hickey explained that he wanted to talk about anal sex "from a medical vantage point" in order to cut through the "junk science" out there.

"I do believe, and I’ve heard enough medical people talking about the intimidation factor and silencing that’s going on," he said. "And you just don’t talk about it. You know, you practice medicine and it’s an issue of politicized medicine and junk science and agenda-driven studies. When the average person can just, you know, what’s self-evident is that [anal sex] isn’t good."

Hickey, who has embraced bogus and medically discredited pseudoscience in order to advance a ban on abortion at 20 weeks, is very concerned about "politicized medicine." This man is definitely not a homophobe or anything like that at all.

But since he's so curious about anal sex and because his letter may not get published (the language might be "inappropriate" for the Argus Leader newspaper, according to its editor), here are some answers to Hickey's questions about how to safely have anal sex, courtesy of Dr. Rachel Needle, a psychologist and licensed sex therapist, writing for Glamour magazine:

  • If this is your first time trying anal sex, spend a few minutes relaxing your mind and your entire body. You can also relax your anal muscles. To see what that feels like you can tighten them by squeezing your butt muscles and holding for a few minutes, and then releasing.
  • Use lots of lubrication. ... The anus does not produce its own lubricant. The more lube you use, the more comfortable and enjoyable anal sex can be.
  • Talk to your partner about your fears or desires for anal sex. Continue to communicate when first trying anal sex by letting your partner know if it hurts or if you would like him to move more slowly or more quickly.
  • To minimize the risk of infection, be sure to clean your genitals before and after engaging in anal sex.
And -- as goes for all kinds of sex -- use protection and get regular screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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