I have the sense that every woman loves butt stimulation. Maybe I developed it for the sole reason that I don't (love butt stimulation), which plays into this recurring narrative I have about myself as a loser. Naturally, the anal-obsessed women I'm imagining are also hotter, chiller, and more experimental than I am, and they probably don't have any internal struggles about enjoying Entourage.
To be clear, I don't hate butt stuff, because you can't hate something you haven't tried (except Crossfit). Nevertheless, I maintain general disbelief that women, hetero and otherwise, seek out butt play: As the articles about anal sex and butt plugs and butts in general proliferate, I find myself thinking, Really? I occasionally ask people if the women they've hooked up with like it, and the answer is often yes. They're not necessarily having mad anal, but the women they've slept with enjoy a finger or a tongue in there. Sexuality is a vast, diverse kaleidoscope of preferences! I have confirmation that women want this even though I've never wanted it or even deeply thought about it outside of that ass-eating episode of Girls, which shook me to my core.
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Still, for many of the women I spoke to for this story, butts are a hard no-go. When I asked one woman if she ever let her boyfriend explore her butt, she responded, "Should I respond to this email while I'm in court for a trial? Probably not, but here I go!" She said she'd never want something in her butt, citing a slew of personal reasons: "(i) my hygiene; (ii) the other person's hygiene; (iii) the lack of physical reward (I understand this is different for men, who I do not and will not speak for); (iv) distraction from the main event, which will not involve my butt."
Another woman told me: "I don't like butt stuff, and I really don't know if it's because I feel it's ceding to the patriarchy to like it or if I truly don't like it. But I do hate everything [butt-related] I've tried." And another one: "Men have tried to venture back there before, and I literally get nothing out of it other than discomfort." And another one: "'No butt stuff' is now the price of admission if you want to have sex with me."
My favorite take came from a chronically constipated friend.
"I don't engage in butt play, mostly because I lead a very consistently constipated life, and once deep in the internet looking for possible cures I found this community of people who started sticking their thumbs in their butts to make themselves poop and then became dependent on it. That's the only way they can poop now," she told me. "So I feel like it might make me poop, which could be good in the grand scheme of things, but not the time or place clearly. I worry I'd become dependent on it."
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Many women I spoke to, however, enjoy the stimulation, whether during anal or as a supplement to masturbation. "When I first started masturbating in high school, I did a finger in the butt," a friend said. "But now with vibrators, I'm legit too lazy and feel like all my needs are covered. I've been thinking about bringing in a butt plug into the bedroom, though."
Never one to miss out on any phenomenon, I wanted to give it a fair chance. Maybe I could occasionally enter through the back door? I ordered "Ditto," the vibrating butt plug from We-Vibe. But before shoving it inside me, I sought out a sexologist who specializes in butts. Dr. Ian Kerner was more than happy to chat with me on a lovely June morning.
"The area of the butt is ripe with nerve endings that contribute to pleasure, so there's no reason that your butt shouldn't be part of the pleasure," Kerner told me. "Individuals and couples are always interested in new areas of excitement and connection, so butt play can be a really powerful addition to your self-pleasuring."
I don't engage in butt play, mostly because I lead a very consistently constipated life.
The fact that butt play is somewhat taboo can add a psychologically stimulating element as well, he said.
"It's not an area that people generally have as much experience with, so being able to explore that on your own, but particularly with a partner, introduces areas of excitement vulnerability and intimacy that really enhance your sense of sexual connection," he said. "It's good to begin with a toy like a butt plug. Even if you're using it for partial or complete insertion, I would say try it first on your own. Use lube, and get yourself fantasizing and masturbating, enjoying whatever clitoral and vaginal stimulation you enjoy. Get yourself to a really nice, warm level of arousal."
I'd had him on speaker at a secluded part of a café's backyard, and at the end of our conversation, one woman—who was on the other side of the café and had come outside after I started my phone call—approached me, smirking, and said, "You really need headphones. It's too early in the morning for masturbation and anal sex." She was kink-shaming me, and I didn't even know if I had a kink!! (Also, can you imagine thinking it's ever too early for masturbation?)
That night, I got myself to a "warm level of arousal," per Dr. Kerner's advice. In fact, I used the vibrating plug the way I would any other vibrator, engaging with my clitoris, at first. Wow, what a life I've built for myself, I thought, as I started to rub lube on the device. I eased it behind me and slowly inserted it. The sensation was nice because vibrating sensations are nice, but I felt no added arousal. I pushed it in further, ultimately all the way, and all it felt like was a pleasant massage. I imagine if butt play were something I fantasized about, I would have been incredibly aroused, but it's not, so I wasn't.
There was no pain though, so that was nice? I felt comfortable, which was more than I expected. After five minutes—a fair try—I turned it off and rewarded myself for being adventurous with a sandwich that had three types of meat in it.