The Internet Didn’t Invent Anal Sex

Passing the Time Until Someone Invents the Internet

It’s all to easy to imagine that our own time and our own experiences are somehow different from all other times and all other human experiences that have gone before. Unfortunately, this kind of naïve thinking usually leads to incorrect conclusions about a wide variety of topics.

Recently I read an article written by a woman on the topic of anal sex. Her assumption was that porn videos have normalized anal intercourse in modern (e.g. US) society whereas before (some unspecified time, presumably the 1950s when people had bobby-socks and milkshakes instead of carnal intercourse) anal sex was neither known about nor practiced by normal middle-class folk.

Perhaps a few people are vaguely aware that the classical Greeks had a lot of anal sex. For the most part, however, we seem to be quite ignorant about history. How many know, for example, that the Greek vases on display in museums are actually unrepresentative, chosen precisely because they don’t display the more typical vase scenes of licentious abandon?

The vast majority of Greek vases are hidden away in storage rooms because curators don’t want to upset the Great American Public. The result: hardly anyone knows that the Greeks were a wild bunch and for the most part preferred anal over vaginal every day of the week. One classic Greek posture for the anal-loving male was to sit on his own hand with his thumb up his rectum while his (male) lover straddled his erect penis and took it into his (the lover’s) own rectum.

The Romans were only a little less anal-centric. Anyone who’s read the works of Petronius Arbiter knows how common anal sex was back in the glory days (and beyond) of the Empire. And although Rome converted to Christianity in the fourth century and thereafter everything became repressed and dull and gloomy, anal sex continued to be a favorite pastime for a very significant percentage of the population not least because it was a great way to have fun without bringing yet another hungry mouth into a world where food scarcity was often the norm.

Jumping ahead several centuries it’s sufficient to note that Dr Johnson’s patient amanuensis Boswell in his Diaries notes his penetrative encounters with the female rectum on several occasions despite being by his own admission rather well-endowed in the gentleman’s sausage department. Furthermore, not only is Cleland’s famous salacious novel of lust and love Fanny Hill not shy about describing anal sex as a standard part of the human sexual repertoire, but it also gets a more than a quick mention in Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses. As for the works of de Sade, well, we hardly need to labor the point, do we?

Moving into the 20th century, Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (published in 1928) features anal sex between Mellors and Constance, and the two famous 1950s erotic novels Emmanuel and the Histoire d’O both feature anal sex. Both of these books, incidentally, were penned by women.

And drawing on personal experience I can say that as a sixteen-year-old European back in 1973 I was having regular anal sex with my girlfriends (often at their request) long before the Internet and readily-available porn videos became the norm.

In short, porn neither invented anal intercourse nor popularized it.

Of course some people love anal sex and some don’t. We all need to discover what works for us and what doesn’t. And like many other sexual activities there’s a continuum: from personal experience I know some women like it very slow and gentle while others relish rough, deep, and hard. Most prefer somewhere in the middle of the range. It’s all to do with personal choice and mood at the time.

Blaming Internet porn for anyone’s desire to have anal sex is to be confused about cause and effect, and frankly to give cheaply made videos rather too much credit for the influence they may exert. Instead of apportioning blame, perhaps it would be better to acknowledge that everyone’s different, too many people (male and female) can be insensitive and unkind in bed, and what we really need is adequate communication and mutual respect regardless of the particular type of sexual activity we may be indulging in at any point in time.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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