Changing Sexual Practices, Media Sensationalism and Attention-Getting Rim Jobs

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I admit that reading New York magazine is a guilty pleasure of mine.  I enjoy the mix of fluff pieces; vanilla journalism; and NYC-centered, self-satisfied trend-spotting and cultural prognostications.  This week’s mag brings us yet another intriguing “Sex Lives” column from writer Maureen O’Connor, this one under the title Warning: A Column on Butt Play (in the online edition) or Playtime Beware: We Are About to Talk About Rim Jobs in Exquisite Detail (in the print edition).

She writes specifically about “heterosexual anal play — not treating the anus like the vagina’s pervier cousin, useful merely for penile penetration, but actually pleasuring it.” Her claims appear three-fold: (1) anal play is on the rise; (2) people find it difficult to talk about; and (3) anal play raises interesting (and under-explored) questions of dominance and power relations.

Here is an excerpt:

I had a revelation about butt play and sexual dominance at a house party in Brooklyn, talking to a man who enjoys rimming his girlfriend but doesn’t like receiving because it makes him feel out of control. When she rims him, he can’t see what’s going on, he explained. When he rims her, he controls everything. Thus, he concluded, even when his girlfriend sits on his face, metaphorically he is still the top. Several men expressed similar sentiments. “It’s about making her feel pleasure,” my friend Greg Gchatted. “Playing her like an instrument, demonstrating technical mastery. It’s a force thing, making her feel something.” But the logic still felt off. How could a man poised, literally, to swallow a woman’s shit possibly be in a position of dominance? * * *

The heterosexual-male psyche is so self-entitling, I realized, that men can convince themselves they are in charge during absolutely any interaction with a woman. “Ha-ha, wow,” Greg said when I pointed this out. “I can’t decide if this makes ‘patriarchy’ seem pathetic or impressive. It’s like being so cool that you can do uncool things: ‘I’m so patriarchal, women can shit in my mouth.’ True masculinity is being a power bottom?”

For further detail, read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

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