A Little Behind

I’m in a playful mood today, and I realize that one of the few topics we haven’t covered exhaustively yet is anal sex. I mean, we’ve already gone on and on about pornographic spam haiku, chick lit vs. romance, rape in romance and monogamy vs. polyamory, and God knows we love our buttpirate jokes, but we’ve never actually covered the topic in and of itself.

I think the first anal sex scene I read in a romance was in something by Robin Schone. Was it The Lady’s Tutor or something else? Anyway, anal sex is currently in the realm of what I think of as “vanilla kink.” It’s not exactly standard sexual practice in Romancelandia yet, so there’s definitely a sort of charge to including it in a mainstream novel, like you’re breaching a taboo—something that’s definitely not present in, say, oral sex scenes in romances. On the other hand, it’s not too terribly exotic, like, say, furry fetishes or whatever.

In erotic romances—the relatively few I’ve read, anyway—anal sex seems to be de rigueur, and I’m wondering how long before it’s going to leak into most, if nor all mainstream romances. Anal sex: it’s the new oral!

I know that for many people, anal sex is definitely the line at which a lot of Squick Barriers are drawn. Personally, The only person who’s written anal sex scenes I can stomach is Emma Holly. I also readily admit to being more inclined to find guy on guy buttsecks sexy than guy on girl. It’s the prostate thing.

My view of anal sex scenes has also changed quite a bit over the years. My original take on it: GROSS. Now, however, I’ve discovered that as with anything else, the skill of the author makes or breaks it.

What do you guys think? Anal sex, yea or nay—and why?


Random Musings

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  1. Generally it doesn’t do anything positive for me when reading about it in romance, because it’s such a strong theme in het porn, esp. in porn about non-consensual sex.  This was also a theme used by the Marquis de Sade, who wanted to make the point of having sex with a woman without her enjoying it—it was all about him.

    However, when written well, either in gay erotica or in an Emma Holly novel, it can be quite entertaining.

  2. Karla says:

    Done well I find it can as enjoyable as oral or vaginal.  On the other hand, if it is written poorly, then that can turn another otherwise good book for me into a discard.  I suspect that there isn’t a lot of anal (actually I can’t think of any) in mainstream books due to the squick factor; the publishers don’t want to alienate their readers with something that tends to squick a lot of people out.

  3. Arethusa says:

    I enjoy reading anal sex scenes when done well, but it’s not a make or break thing for me—not anymore than an intercourse or oral sex scene done well.

    Emma Holly was the first romance author I read who wrote anal sex scenes too.

  4. Jay in Oregon says:

    Admit it; you brought this topic up because you wanted to have a a big picture of an owl with “BUTTSECKS?” on it, didn’t you?

    As far as the actual topic goes; anal sex isn’t a deal-breaker when it comes to erotica, but it’s not something I look forward to.

    Color me “enh”.

  5. SB Sarah says:

    A few thoughts:

    I don’t mind it at all, and consider it a potential part of erotica, sort of part of the sexual palette – oral, vaginal, anal.

    Emma Holly does write it well – but the award for hottest anal sex scene I’ve read goes to Scott & Scott’s “Hot Sauce” from the Romentics publication line. Hooodamn. *fans self* Emotionally taut and all about the booty. But bottom line (HA!) it’s definitely the author that makes the difference.

  6. Candy says:

    CURSES! Jay has figured me out.

    Actually, the Buttsecks owl did inspire me. And the picture makes me giggle and giggle.

  7. sk says:

    Anal in romance and erotica by straight women (as opposed to gay men) is either vague or comical.  Either the writers sum things up a la Zane – “[Reader], I took it up the ass” or they go all hazy and mystical with the heroine having some sort of assgasm the the instant her b’hymen is breached with only a dairy-based food product as lubricant.

    Maybe I have too many TMI gay friends, but from what I’ve heard, good anal is all about preparation and lubrication.    (I hear that having a prostate also helps – but that’s another topic.) Romance and erotica by and for women tends to favor people getting “caught in the heat of passion” and having sex without planning – maybe because even us liberated modern women still secretly feel there’s something slutty about planning to have sex. 

    Rare is the romance/romantica love scene where any lubrication other than the heroine’s own Niagra-like flow of “feminine juices” is necessary.  Heaven forbid a heroine should have a tube of Astroglide handy – someone might get the idea that she’d done that sort of thing before.

      Needless to say, I’ve never read a heroine of a romance or a romantica who drank aloe juice coctails, purged or gave herself enemas to get prepped for a night of in-through-the-out-door lovin’.   

    When romance/romantica anal scenes try to get all detailed, they usually leave out those two details that would keep me from thinking “Ew, stanky!” and “Ouch!”.  And if the author can’t get that right, it’s probably better that she keep it vague.

  8. Keziah Hill says:

    Joey Hill wrote a great anal sex scene in Natural Law where the female dom penetrated the hero with a strap on. I must admit this scenario appeals to me.

  9. SB Sarah says:

    “b’hymen?” I can’t figure out if that’s a religion or something Yiddish one might say when you sneeze.

  10. Sarah F. says:

    Stephanie Vaughan also writes fabulous m/m gay novels that do a great job with anal sex, so the “anal sex written by women” thing doesn’t work for her, either.  And she’s a bit more realistic than Joey Hill, although Hill is one of my favorite authors in the whole wide world!!!  But then, so’s Stephanie.

    I need to get some of the Romentic books.  They sound so good.

  11. I vividly remember sitting in bed reading an Emma Holly book (years ago) and suddenly shouting, “Ohmigod, he just stuck his finger up her ass!” It was a strange way for my dh to wake from a sound sleep, I’m sure.

    Needless to say, every time I write a new book, dh says, “You should have him stick his finger up her ass.” And I think about it every time, but I don’t think it’s a “first book” kind of move. But the third or fourth book? I’m totally getting into that.

    I don’t know if I’ve read any of the full anal penetration Holly. I’ve certainly read it in The Cave. It was just that one moment of crossing the anal barrier in mainstream romance that crystalized in my mind.

    I’m sure you’d have to do a lot of research if you wanted to get it just right.

  12. And the Do Your Man With a Strap-On? Is not for me.

  13. Karla says:

    That vague, instant assgasm (that isn’t trademarked right?)is a major problem with anal, it just doesn’t work like that.  I find scenes like that leave me wondering just how caring & loving the hero really is.

  14. Eddie Adair says:

    Damn it, Jay, you blew Candy’s cover. I was thoroughly convinced that she had photoshopped that picture herself—done the research to find the perfect picture and everything.

    That said, it’s still wonderful.

    And anal in romance writing? Speaking from an erotic romance perspective, since that’s what I’m editing, it’s fine by me as long as it isn’t either TOO unrealistic or crossing the line into gross. I have encountered several authors who want the hero (in het couplings) to prepare the way by rimming, and for the amount of lube needed and what a person would have to do to generate it from spit that is just rawwwwwwwwng. For the most part, the gay anal scenes I’ve read either come from writers who truly know what they’re talking about or have invested enough time to write the scenes as skillfully as possible.

    New favorite word: b’hymen.

  15. Sindell says:

    First of all, it took me a few seconds to understand what “secks” was. I thought it was a post about an endangered owl. Moving on, I first read my first anal scene in a Stuart Woods novel titled: Dirt and while the hero, Stone is having “secks” with his lady, she fingers him. I was like 17 at the time and didn’t know if I was crazy or some type of typo.

    I’m as dirty as the next chick, but I can live without the backdoor lovin. Just keep everything glistening, throbbing, and heaving and I’m good.

  16. I agree totally: it depends on the author. I think that assessment applies to ANY sex. If it’s written well, it’s titillating. Written badly, it’s at best nasty and at worst, humorous.

    The market for m/m erotica is really hot right now, and most are selling to women. I think the ick factor for some is loosening up a bit.

  17. fiveandfour says:

    New favorite word: b’hymen.

    It’s a toss up for me between that and assgasm. I’ll have to slip these into conversation somehow (should be interesting with the holidays and all) and see what gets the best reaction out of people. 

    Ooh ooh, actually, I have a better idea: someone out New York way needs to say these in public and we’ll see how long it takes for them to show up on Overheard in New York.  Anyone


    crazy enough to take this on?  It’s in the name of science, after all…

  18. shaina says:

    dont think i could stomach it in real life, but it can be…interesting to read about. one i remember is in Diane Whiteside’s “River Devil”—it was just a fantasy by the heroine, but it was quite the fantasy! she (D.W.) seems to like going out there, as in an interesting scene with whips in “Irish Devil”. 🙂

  19. Bonnie says:

    Ordinarily I’m by no means a prude. However, I do have very solid feelings about how a “romantic” interlude between two people who love one another should end, and it isn’t with the orgasm in the ass. Of course this is only applicable to het couples.

    The prospect of anal sex doesn’t make me cringe, doesn’t make me go “ick” – it just makes me go, “Well, that’s not very sharing-intimate.” I probably have some sort of archaic caveman notion that the Lovejuice ™ should be spilled in the Dark Cavern ™, rather than in the Other Dark Cavern ™. To me, a love scene/intimate scene/whatever in a romance should be something that reinforces the love bond between the h/h, and while it doesn’t have to involve face-to-face, it does have to involve something MORE than up the ass. To me, the MORE is achieved through conventional methods – and for a scene to be more than just panting-sweaty fucking, the MORE has to be there. And it DOES squick me to read about anal-followed-by-vaginal. Egads.

    So I personally think a “love scene” (as opposed to a “sex scene”) in a romance (not talking about erotica or romantica, which IMO is thinly-clad erotica) should skip the anal and leave the reader to wonder whether or not they get that kinky.

  20. Bonnie says:

    Another comment to add: it’s really difficult to avoid getting crude and personal when attempting to address questions like this one!

  21. SB Sarah says:

    If the sex in a romance novel is all about the emotional and physical joining of the hero and heroine, then anal really doesn’t add much to the text. But in the context of a romantica or an erotic novel, the boundary-pushing (heh) of an anal scene can illustrate a good number of emotional elements between the two protagonists: such as trust, adventurousness, willingness to explore taboo or dangerous sexual activity. It can, in the right context, be used quite effectively to further a relationship.

    But vaginal-following-anal without a change of condom? Oh, hell no. That’s just narsty. And please, let’s not even go near oral-following-anal. *shudder*

  22. Amy E says:

    I have to say, one of the most moving love scenes I’ve read was in an erotic romance, where the heroine’s b’hymen was still intact (heh) and they were about to voyage up chocolate creek, but the hero could tell that she was nervous about it.  And rather than urging her to go along, he slid his love muscle into her chunnel of love instead of the Other Dark Cavern. 

    That being said, anal doesn’t squick me just because it’s anal.  I’ve read it where I’m all OW because of no preparation, but I’ve also read scenes that make me think, hmm, might ought to try me some of that.  So, falling back on the old standby—It’s All In The Way You Write It.

  23. Amy E says:

    Oh, and assgasm?  Best.  Word.  Ever.  I wanna use it in my next book.  Can I, please????

  24. Miki says:

    When I first read anal sex in romantica, it was a BIG squick factor for me.  And it’s not even the “exotic” or “slut” factor that bugs me – it’s pure hygiene.

    After some interesting conversations on various eLists about this topic, I’ve come around a little to the idea – but I have one very large caveat to it:  it absolutely MUST be consensual and welcome.

    Too much of it reads like mildly veiled rape.  He beats his chest and demands it, she says no, he does it anyway…and of course she loves it.  All women want to be dominated by their men this way, right? *big eye roll*

  25. sk says:

    > Oh, and assgasm?  Best.  Word.  Ever. 
    > I wanna use it in my next book. 
    > Can I, please???

    Hee.  I’d love to see it in print.

    I agree that the appea lof any sex scene depends on how well its written. 

    I was wonderering why I’ve read so many vague and/or bad anal scenes out there, when I suddenly realized that I’ve read a lot of bad sex scenes, period.

    Why should I be surprised that those throbing manhoods occasionally take a detour up the Hershey Highway instead of heading straight for Love Canal?

  26. rebyj says:

    i always giggle when anal is in a book i read..because the HERO always has a MASSIVE man sword…DUDE if its that massive its gonna HURT!

    (on a side note… the ex never gave me a car/jewelry/ trip to the bahamas…ergo.. he got no buttsecks!)

    that is still being withheld for a man with BIG presents and TEENY TINY penis! LOL

  27. Lauren says:

    Thing about butt sex is the utter lack of words that are sexy. Anus gah! the word is just icky and I always hear it in a flat voice like eeyore or Joe Lieberman (although, it does make me want to write butt sex eeyore/lieberman slash now, heh).

    I do write butt sex in my books but I’m not a big fan and so I keep it minimum and I do include real life issues like stretching (or the dreaded Megan Hart no no term “scissoring”) and lube.

    But really? I like to stay away from sex that takes a whole lot of preparation because damn it, if I have to have an instruction manual or prepare lots in advance (other than shaving my legs) it loses appeal.

    In MM scenes, I’m much more into oral but that’s probably more about what I’d like to watch if I were in the room.

  28. Amanda says:

    I’ve no strong opinions one way or another about anal sex. I don’t mind as long as it’s in a consensual scene be it heterosexual or homosexual , but I want it to be realistic & hygenic.
    I don’t buy the argument that anal sex is impersonal or isn’t sexually fulfilling.

    IMO anal sex, more than “regular” sex, needs to be thoroughly thought out & worked on carefully. Either know what you’re talking about or don’t include it.

    SB Sara was right on when she said:
    “But in the context of a romantica or an erotic novel, the boundary-pushing (heh) of an anal scene can illustrate a good number of emotional elements between the two protagonists: such as trust, adventurousness, willingness to explore taboo or dangerous sexual activity. It can, in the right context, be used quite effectively to further a relationship.”

  29. Alyssa says:

    I don’t really enjoy reading about it. Most of the time I think the description sounds painful. I just don’t find it at all appealing.

  30. Norvegica says:

    I read predominantly slash fanfiction and anal sex is therefore de rigeur. There are authors that type out story upon story with anal sex scenes that are hot.

    I guess it works for the genre as a whole because of the homosexual aspect of the various fandoms. There really isn’t anything else unless for some random reason the author decides to stretch their chops by turning a previously male character female through magic or something.

  31. Eddie Adair says:

    Digging up this thread that no one’s reading anymore, I’m sure, but… I’m with you, Amanda and Sarah.

    To me, calling anal impersonal in heterosex is like reverse phallocentrism (i.e., nothing beats The Real Thing). It sounds like it’s essentially saying that it’s all right for two guys because it’s all they can do with their equipment, whereas a man and a lady have the Dance As Old As Time to fall back on. There are tons of ways to have sex, to make love, to go “all the way”, and I believe that a mediocre vaginal intercourse scene is waaaay more impersonal than some of the best anal scenes, hetero or homo, man or woman as recipient, that I’ve read.

    PS—What is UP with these smart spam guards? “hole58”! No kidding!

  32. Shan Baro says:

    Robin Schone sure can write about buttsecks! I read three of her books this past weekend. My anus is still clinched.  :red:

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