When is surprise anal okay?

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Call me crazy but having a man "surprise" me with anal sex is not high on my bucket list. I mean, how would you feel if someone unexpectedly shoved a cucumber up your asshole and then was like "What? Should I have asked first?" UH YEAH.

Apparently, British GQ disagrees. In an article titled "How to ask for anal sex" the men's mag advises that actually asking for anal sex—you know, as the title implies—is not so sexy after all. (I mean ugh, consent? Who needs it, right?) Instead, writer Sarah Jane Banhan, a sex expert known for running elite Play Experience sex parties, says men should take a cue from Nike and Just Do It.

"Women like to be surprised … How about a slight whisper in the ear while you penetrate your women, isn’t that just a little more erotic? Surely that's the point of good ol’ naughty, dirty sex?" Banhan writes.

She then continues with her step-by-step guide for surprising a girl with a backdoor entrance, writing "If you're fantasizing about bending her over, then how about just turning those fantasies into reality … undress her slowly, kiss her, tell her quietly you are going to penetrate her from behind then rub your penis over her anus first just to tease."

Again, nowhere does this article mention asking her first. Which is why THIS IS TERRIBLE ADVICE—and has rightfully already received some backlash.

In Banhan's defense, she does say that if your partner isn't into it you should stop. After all, "no means no gentleman," she advises. Of course, that advice doesn't take into consideration that once penetration occurs, or even "just the tip," your partner may already feel violated. Turning your hot sex session into an awkward living nightmare.


When I asked about the backlash, Banhan told me over email that her article was based on her own experiences. "I merely 'lightly' spoke of anal sex in a way for me—as an open minded woman who has experienced and enjoyed this pleasure—and wanted to share to the world."

She continued, "People out there should learn to appreciate that not everyone wants to be 'vanilla.' Some like it rough, some like to be squeaky clean, and I take into appreciation that you should just respect their choices, not penalise."


It's true every sexual relationship has its own boundaries, but the point is to talk about those boundaries before jumping in. If you think about it, advising men in all relationships to just start anal without asking takes away one partner's choice.

Don't get me wrong, this is not to say there is no place for anal sex in general. There are women out there who love anal sex and some women even orgasm from anal sex, sometimes more so than women who don't have anal sex. So don't take this as anti-butt-sex propaganda. What I am saying is that "surprise" anal sex is another word for "anal sex without consent"—which is not okay. And telling guys to just go for it is a clear violation of trust.


Unfortunately, the British GQ piece is just the latest example of surprise anal popping up in pop culture. Indeed, it's often used in TV and films as the butt of a joke (bad puns!) or a funny-awkward-tee-hee-moment that's supposed to leave the audience giggling rather than cringing. Like "Omg, he tried to penetrate her asshole without even asking her, what a cooky guy!"

For instance, in 2014 The Mindy Project devoted an entire episode to surprise anal titled, "I slipped." In it, Mindy Kaling's on-screen boyfriend Danny decided to go for the backdoor without permission and Mindy was rightfully pissed. He claimed his dick "slipped," but we all know it didn't. He later confessed to his crime like it was no big deal and we were just expected to laugh about it. HA!

Not surprisingly, The Mindy Project received a plethora of backlash from the episode—with many fans and critics saying it was a poor depiction of consent. Defending the episode, Kaling, who both writes and stars in the show, said "[Danny] tried something because he was trying to see what he could get away with, but I don’t think that Mindy’s reaction to it was ‘I feel violated’; it was ‘Hey man, run that by me!’"


But that's exactly why it's so wrong. When you're trying to "get away" with something it means that on some level you know it's unacceptable. In the case of anal sex, men already know their partner may not be up for it, but rather than ask and risk rejection, some would rather Just Do It and leave their fate up to the butt sex gods.

Other shows are just as guilty of showing surprise anal as a funny mishap rather than the clear violation it is. On the pilot episode of Girls, Lena Dunham's character, Hannah, goes to visit her on-again-off-again boyfriend Adam (played by Adam Driver) in order to hookup. Adam tells her to lie face down on the couch and demands she take her pants off. He then proceeds to commence Surprise Anal. Hannah's immediate reaction is "Don't do that, that feels awful." She then apologizes for not wanting anal sex and tries to talk about what an anal-sex encounter might look like in the future, but Adam's response is "Let's play the quiet game." In other words, shut up the f*ck up.


In both of these instances the female did not want anal sex and the man didn't give her an option—which is exactly what British GQ advises. Both men stopped once the female said no, but at that point something had changed. The sex was no longer sexy, instead it was cringey. In fact, the Girls scene often ranks on "TV's cringiest sex scenes" lists.


So how does one actually ask for anal sex?


As I mentioned earlier, women can get a lot of joy out of anal sex—so don't assume that your girlfriend / lover / Tinder date / wife will automatically be against it. Instead, broach the subject and ask if it's something he or she would be interested in. Because the truth is anal sex can be new and scary and comes with a lot of uncomfortable side effects. As female Vice writers who advocate for more anal sex point out, a "bleeding asshole" is a possibility.


Doesn't logic and respect dictate that if you're about to do something that could lead to a bleeding asshole you should at least ask first? I think so.

Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.

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