Identity

In the Age of the Ass, Our Teenagers Deserve Better Sex Education

We spoke to teens and sex educators to see how the pop culture era of all-things-anal has affected teens' sex lives.

by Sara David
Apr 28 2017, 6:25pm

Americans are living in an unprecedented golden era decades in the making: the Age of the Ass.

The 90s saw some posterior praise with Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" climbing Billboard's Hot 100 List in 1992 and Sisqo's "Thong Song" doing the same in 1999. But deep cuts from that decade reveal that off the charts, people had already been dropping bars about getting their asses eaten, like Lil' Kim's 1996 "Dreams." The epoch of mainstream analingus lyrics was arguably ushered in by our patron saint Khia in 2002, with "My Neck, My Back (Lick It)." By the time we hit 2011, Nicki Minaj's "somebody point me to the best ass eater" seemed like a totally chill and ideal request. As an adult, I revel in lyrics like "he toss my salad like his name Romaine" and "he gotta eat the booty like groceries" because they're in accordance with my worldview that butt play is great and we all deserve great things. But even with rimming-related rhymes on the radio, our asses are still shrouded in mystery and unfortunately, stigma.

While pop culture assures we're exposed more frequently (and at younger ages) to anal content, teens today reveal their gaps in knowledge between casual references and actual butt play. And their experiences reveal a shameful void where our comprehensive sex education should be.

Read More: How Your Sex Life Affects Your Butt Size

There's little national data about the prevalence of butt stuff among youths: A 2008 study from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States found that more teenagers are engaging in anal activity than in the past, but the study only looks at what is described as "heterosexual oral" sex and penetrative anal sex—meaning, there's no information about analingus. Questions about anal (oral or penetrative) activities are also absent from the annual "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance" report from the CDC and the annual "Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12" report.

Porn presents another data game that obscures the whole picture of teens' exposure to anal sex acts. While there are studies exploring the effects of porn consumption on teens, there aren't many large-scale, longitudinal studies about teens' porn habits, largely due to the age restriction which has little to no regulation in the digital age.

In a 2015 partnership with VICE to gather data about consumption of anal porn, PornHub looked back at more than six years of its site's trends. The company found that "there has been an overall growth in the popularity of anal searches of 120 percent in the United States and 78 percent worldwide."

Those aged 18 to 24 made up PornHub's "youngest" (though there isn't anything to stop someone younger than 18 with a web browser from looking at PornHub) demographic, which the company's analysis found to be 33 percent less likely to search for anal sex. While analyzing anal-affiliated search terms, PornHub found that the term "teen" has shown an astounding 263 percent increase from 2009 to 2015.

It's clear that teens are being exposed to more anal-related content than before, but their scope of knowledge about butt play Illustrates the extremes of accessibility to sex ed (and the cultural stand-ins for sex ed, like porn and other media).

"Parents don't go in depth about anything so there's a lot of strange gaps in knowledge," a teacher who has instructed sex ed in middle and high schools and wishes to remain anonymous to protect his job, tells Broadly. "They know porn and they know movies, but everything except the most graphic imagery and vague references made by adults is outside of their realm of knowledge." He added that while his students have "seen hardcore bareback bukkake orgies," a lot of sexual references "actually go right over their heads."

And their exposure to anal porn doesn't necessarily mean that teens are engaging in these activities. "Sometimes I like watching anal porn even though I don't do any of that shit for real," 17-year-old Megan* from New York tells me. "It's not like I search for it, but some regular porn just turns into anal and it's like...I don't just stop watching."

Chelsea Cross, a science and health teacher in Waianae, Hawaii, notes that her high school students "especially love making jokes about eating booty." Nineteen-year-old Evan* from California confirms this. "I love joking about eating ass," he tells Broadly. "It makes me seem down and I don't know, maybe like a better lover or something. Even though I wouldn't really say I do it, if it was Jhene Aiko or Rihanna, of course I fucking would."

Cross believes that these discussions, at least in theory, should help destigmatize anal sex acts. "I think more of them would be okay with 'rimming' and it wouldn't be viewed as taboo because they talk about it more openly," she says.

But one of the downfalls of the Age of the Ass, according to Cross, is that we're culturally ill-equipped to educate teens on healthy, consensual sex. "The worst part about current songs [and] pop culture though is it makes students feel more comfortable doing things that border on sexual assault," she explains. "For example, we had a 'slap da titty day' at school where everyone was going around slapping each other's chest/breasts. This was followed up by 'grab da pussy' day (thanks Trump) and 'grab dat ass' day."

Visited by five million young people a year, Sex, Etc. is a website and organization seeking to improve teen sexual health. They also accept teens' questions submitted to their blog or Tumblr which, according to their sexual health expert Blythe Ulrich, "demonstrate that there is a lack of sex education across the country."

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

"Many young people don't understand basic anatomy, how pregnancy occurs, or how STDs are transmitted—and that's not their fault," Ulrich tells Broadly.

The problems revealed by the collision of teenagers and the Age of the Ass are messy: The sexual education programs we have in place are failing teenagers, and since sex ed varies state by state, there's no comprehensive legislation to address this. So we've got states like Oklahoma, where it's against the law to refer students to any medical facility that provides abortions and abstinence-only states like Mississippi. Comprehensive sex ed programs that include lessons in things like sexual assault and consent are few and far between. (And with a president that has racked up sexual assault accusations in the double-digits, who knows how long until we get there?)

While a more public dialogue about anal play helps combat stigma and guide us toward a more pleasurable world, it's currently met by a shameful lack of comprehensive sex ed to prepare us for it. Don't we want young people to feel comfortable communicating their desires and questions? Don't we want a population enlightened by the joys of stigma-free, private pleasure? If the pop culture Age of the Ass is to be realized, we must give teens a healthy option to navigate it. We deserve a future of benevolent butt play—but our attitudes and resources have to catch up first.

*Names have been changed

Tagged:
Sex
Broadly
Butts
pornhub
Anal
midrange editorial
Age of the Ass
Broadly Sex