Wednesday’s epic Amber Rose Tweet, in which she attempted to silence ex-boyfriend Kanye West's twitter rant at her estranged husband Wiz Khalifa by alleging that he enjoys being on the receiving end of anal sex, has proven incredibly popular, racking up over 300,000 likes in under 48 hours. While we may applaud Rose for standing up for herself, we shouldn’t be so quick to praise her in this case.
The rapper has responded, also on Twitter, with a vociferous denial:
The topic has even spawned its own Twitter hashtag: #KanyeAnalPlaylist. Now, whether or not Kanye West himself has or hasn’t engaged in anal sex is not the point here. B his heated response comes across with more than a whiff of sanctimoniousness, as if enjoying “that area” is simply beyond his comprehension.
Well, for plenty of men, it’s not; in fact, various types of anal play, from being penetrated by fingers to pegging (strap-on sex) to analingus, are part of their sexual repertoire. There are countless articles extolling its pleasures, from Details’ “Why More Straight Guys Should Be Playing With Their Butts” (from cancer prevention to prostate orgasm) to Vice’s “The Straight Man's Guide to Receiving Anal Sex from Your Girlfriend.” The prostate is often referred to as the “male G-spot.” In 2011, sex educator Charlie Glickman told Salon, “more heterosexual men are discovering prostate and anal play with their female partners than ever before.”
Despite the popularity of anal sex, male questions about its role in their lives still frequently come up in advice forums, which is another reason why we need to fight back against the idea that there’s something shameful or problematic about anal play. For instance, in 2013, a Reddit user asked, “I am a straight guy, but I was introduced to anal toys such as beads and butt plugs by my gf (now ex gf). Is it strange that I actually enjoy that kind of stuff?”
A 20-year-old man asked the advice site Go Ask Alice, “Does the fact that I enjoy stimulating my anus while masturbating have anything to do with my sexual orientation?” The answer: “When touched or massaged, the prostate — about a half-inch inside the opening of the anus — is a spot in men's bodies that heightens sensations during many a male masturbation session, including at the time of orgasm. Why here? This area is kind of like the Space Shuttle launch pad: it's where the fluids of ejaculation gather just before they take off up the shaft of the penis.”
That Rose used the phrase as a public taunt, and was so widely applauded for doing so, plays into the problem. This was not “history’s greatest hashtag” or “hashtag of the year,” even though it may be one of 2016’s most memorable. No type of consensual sex act should be wielded as a weapon to humiliate someone, even if that person has been responsible for slut-shaming you. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There’s plenty to criticize West for, such as using Rose’s stripper history to slut-shame her, but that doesn’t make it okay for her to in turn use anal play as an insult.
As anal sex expert Tristan Taormino, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women," tweeted:
Was it a Tweet that caught the attention of the world this week? Yes, but just because Rose has rightfully stood up for her own sexuality before doesn’t mean we should automatically applaud what she did this time around. For instance, Matt Nedostup at Someecards wrote, “She took down Future President West with a single tweet, using all of the venom and personal information that only an ex can provide.” But at what cost? We all know personal details about what our exes like in bed, but exposing that information as a way to make them look bad only boomerangs on the accuser, and in this case, makes it seem as if Rose concurs that there’s something disturbing about West possibly having enjoyed being on the receiving end of manual penetration.
Glickman and Aislinn Emerzian, co-authors of "The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure," identify three key reasons why men and their partners often shy away from prostate exploration, which ties right back into the subtext of Rose’s ill-advised hasthag. Those reasons:
- Many people think that receiving penetration is the “woman’s role” in sex.
- Penetration is sometimes thought of as an act of dominance, so “submitting” to it can be seen as a sign of weakness.
- It’s a common myth that the only men who enjoy receiving penetration are gay men, so any man who wants to be penetrated must be gay.
These are at the core of how a phrase like #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch perpetuates stereotypes and serves to halt, rather than advance, our progress around open and honest sexual communication. If men think that their interest in anal sex will be used against them or bandied about for others’ entertainment, they’re going to be less likely to ask their partners to engage in it or even begin a discussion about it.
Glamazon Tyomi explained it perfectly at Ebony: “Just because a man likes to have a finger swirled around his anal cavity during sex doesn’t make him gay or a ‘bitch.’ It simply means he enjoys the feeling he receives from the thousands of nerve endings being stimulated by the pressure of freely roaming digits. But society can’t get past its homophobic lens to see the logic of biology.”
Exactly. The root of the taunt implies that there’s something inherently wrong with enjoying fingers in the booty. If we applaud that attitude, we’re taking a major step back for sexual freedom. When we call this an “embarrassing sexual claim,” we’re playing into homophobia, and creating a hierarchy of sex acts that are okay, and sex acts that aren’t okay. We’re making men who do enjoy being on the receiving end of anal sex (or might someday be curious about it) feel like that’s something to be ashamed of or to hide. Both Rose and West played into that, her with her accusation, him with his denial, which could easily have said something like, “I’m not into anal, but everyone should be free to enjoy what they enjoy.” It’s 2016, and it’s high time anal sex stopped being used as some sort of epithet.