There’s this scene in Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know where two brothers are joking around in a chat room, trying to engage in some innocent cybersex. One of the brothers is older, about 12, and the other kid’s younger – around five or six. The older brother asks what he should type.
Little Brother: I want to poop back and forth.
Big Brother: What? What does that mean?
LB: Like, I’ll poop into her butt hole and then she’ll poop it back into my butt hole. And then we’ll just keep doing it back and forth with the same poop. Forever.
BB: Oh my god, I’m going to put that…. She’s gonna think we’re a crazy, perverted person.
Trust me, it’s cute when a little kid says it. In fact, it almost comes across as romantic. Of course, it’s the little boys’ innocence that makes it so endearing. He has no idea what’s “crazy perverted” about poop as sex.
In Freudian terms – let’s momentarily give the man some feminist slack – the little boy is going through a stage of development known as polymorphous perversity, meaning that he has yet to learn to locate his sexual libido in his genitals. For a little kid still figuring out where his body begins and ends and what pleasure can be given and received, any part of the body can be the locus of erotic pleasure, including the bum. To a small child not yet schooled in the ways of the world, a bum is not much different from an elbow or a penis – and poop is not that much different from cum.
People seem to have all sorts of hang-ups when it comes to the ass. A game of Never Have I Ever takes a delicate turn when ass-play comes in to the mix. Girls will sheepishly admit to it, straight guys almost never – as if the act instantaneously revoked their masculinity – and even gay men, for whom the ass is considered to be the primary site of pleasure, sometimes get all up in arms about whether they’re top or bottom.
When you think about it, the ass has a lot going for it. From anal beads, butt plugs, fingering, rimming, enemas, spanking, scat play, pinching, shaking, and shimmying, the bum sure is versatile. And how could we forget such famous bums as Bruce Springsteen’s – once considered the bum of America. So why are so many people worried about the fact they could be getting pleasure up the ass?
Of course, even beyond Brucey’s iconic bum, the ass has been acknowledged as a source of aesthetic pleasure for a long time. We all know that Sir Mix A Lot likes big ones, lots of women on sitcoms like cute ones, and some gym-prone people like them firm. What’s weird is that asses are so out of many people’s sexual field of vision. I mean, anal sex toys are even legal in Texas – Texas, where it’s against the law to advertise sex toys as sex toys and a vibrator is called a “personal massager,” but a butt plug is still a butt plug.
Pop-culturally speaking, it seems safe that women comment on men’s bums – a cute bum is almost desexualized. It’s a non threatening form of male objectification. Think about how bums are treated on prime time TV. A bum packaged in tight jeans has almost been sanitized: those women aren’t really talking about sex, they’re talking about bums! Just like babies’ bums! Men, on the other hand, have a more aggressive history when it comes to the bum – there’s usually a pinch or slap involved. Real men don’t just sit around talking about bums. Oh no. Real men go out there and touch ‘em!
Another thing real men apparently don’t do is get pleasure from their bums. I have no doubt that as we speak, there are plenty of people – straight dudes, women, trans folk – who are out there doing nasty things to asses. Yet there’s still a cultural stigma attached to the back door. For one, apparently it’s dirty. Way dirtier than the mouth, penis, or vagina. I mean, poop comes out of that thing, and, in the hierarchy of bodily excrements, it seems that pee wins out over poop every time. Once you get past the poop, there’s always the question of whether it’ll actually feel good. There’s lots of debate over whether the male G-spot actually exists. But really folks, who cares if it’s supposed to feel good “biologically”? Plenty of people get off without being touched at all – stone butches, objectophiliacs, those guys who like it when women sneeze. Sex is all about the mental. Of course, this doesn’t mean the physical isn’t important – the mind is still a part of the body, after all, and you’re still experiencing this pleasure in your body whether or not you’re being stimulated mentally or physically. What I’m saying is that sex and pleasure isn’t the sole domain of the genitals or some silly little spot, so why are so many people worrying about that treasure trove of pleasure that is the bum?
It’s time the ass got a little more respect. Remember that before feminists started to reclaim the vagina, female orgasms weren’t even on society’s bodily map; the penis was considered the sole giver and receiver of sexual pleasure. I think it would be great if we were all proud, polymorphous, crazy perverts – sex explorers of the bum.