(No, Lisa’s preferences in regards to anal sex or lack thereof are not a theme that is going to be explored in this blog post. If harassed about it, I will briefly state my preference, but hopefully nobody will so far miss the whole point of this post that they will be motivated to ask.)
I got to thinking on this topic today after a brief hop over to Feminsting’s community blogsite where I saw an article entitled “Feminist Critique of Hetero Male Culture Causes Mass MRA Hysteria.” I wasn’t too intrigued by the header there, I’ll admit, because most feminist critiques of anything to do with men and sexuality send most MRAs over the edge of rationality–in other words, well okay but so..? but I was also waiting for about 5 million work emails to finish printing out on my feeble home printer and I had time to kill. So I read it, and followed the embedded link to the original blog post by the author on her own website and read that too.
It wasn’t a bad article, even if the author had to start out with the tired old refrain of “when I was a little girl I was really more like a little boy! because 99% of little girls, unlike me, were all about Barbies and gossip and hated physical activity of any sort–!” I do get tired of that one. It certainly does incline me to agree that the female writers who regularly prop up this stereotype did, indeed, have zero little girlfriends growing up or they’d know better than that. But then, if they acknowledged that to be true, they might have to reconsider why they didn’t actually have more little girlfriends, eh..? I’m sure it’s much more pleasant to imagine that one didn’t because one was simply too guyishly cool for all those little pink rainbow wussies! rather than it being, perhaps, for some other less self-congratulatory reason.
But moving on to the actual point she was trying to make–she certainly got it right about the prevalence of men using being on the receiving end of anal sex as a euphemism for a miserable situation. However, I think she rather missed the boat on why. Men also, just as frequently if not more so, use being raped in the same euphemistic fashion. So, when men are talking about being fucked up the ass by their boss, or the government, or their ex-wife’s lawyer, they’re not actually referring to the mechanics of anal sex–they’re referring to being raped. Since women don’t rape men (yes, I know they do, but bear with me), men are simply using the phrase “fucked up the ass” synonymously with “getting raped.”
That whole idea did strike me as interesting, though–because men also use “rape” euphemistically, with themselves as the main actor, to describe how they absolutely defeated some other person or persons in competition (the competition can be either formal, as in a softball game, or informal, as in getting the best parking space at Wal-Mart). However, they do not ever (that I’ve witnessed) describe themselves as “fucking someone else up the ass” in that way. So the distinction is made, and the distinction seems pretty clear-cut in cause to me. It is homophobic, specifically male-homophobic, and all of a piece with how the most common thing I hear out of pre-pubescent and pubescent boys’ mouths as an insult exchanged with other boys (and since I have a twelve-year-old son and a seventeen-year-old son, I get to hear a lot of this kind of exchange) is, “You’re gay.”
Men, therefore, who use all these euphemisms, have a clear grasp of the essentials–only women and faggots, ie, persons with status less than the standard issue heterosexual man, get fucked up the ass. To be fucked up the ass is to have your human status reduced. If something happens to you that reduces your status in the eyes of others, you have been fucked up the ass. If you soundly defeat another man, you have reduced his status to that of a woman–you have raped him–but you don’t quite want to say that you fucked him up the ass, as he is male like you, because that would make you a faggot and reduce your status too.
This is why we have the seeming paradox of these men fearing rape more than any other crime that could be committed against them, with the possible exception of castration, yet having no issues at all regularly blowing off and otherwise dismissing the rape of women by men, with the sometimes-exception of the rape of a prepubescent woman or a virgin. For them, rape is psychologically devastating because it makes you a homo, and physically painful because while pussies are clearly designed for dicks, assholes aren’t. They accept that rape might also be psychologically damaging because a girl child’s brain probably hasn’t fully accepted adult concepts yet and a virgin is probably saving herself for some special man, and physically damaging because a child’s vagina isn’t quite done developing to full readiness for a man’s penis and because they can imagine that the rupture of the physical membrane that is the hymen could be painful. However, once a female has begun to menstruate and no longer possesses a hymen, her getting fucked in the vagina is totally natural both physically and psychologically–it’s how we were all designed, right?–so it really can’t be considered anything nearly as psychologically or physically devastating as a man getting raped anally by another man. And it doesn’t reduce a pubescent, non-virgin female’s status–she’s already not a virgin, which is the only status boost she could possibly stack onto her pre-existing undeniable femaleness, and once that’s gone, she has no more to lose.
An interesting conundrum that this can present for men who find that they really enjoy receiving anal stimulation–I was in a long-term, monogamous relationship with one (I won’t say which one). He asked me, very hesitantly and shame-faced, after the first time we really made a point of trying it out, if I thought that that meant he had homosexual urges. I said, I don’t think so–who do you want to be doing this to you? Me, or a man? You! he said, very definitely, and I said, Well, I think that’s what defines you as homosexual or not–who you’re doing whatever you’re doing with, not what exactly you happen to be doing. But men who want to perform anal sex on women don’t have this agonizing conflict–because, again, it is getting fucked that reduces your status and puts you in your place, not doing the fucking.
I used to wonder why men seemed to have so much trouble empathizing with most types of rapes, when a woman was the victim, or even why they en masse never seemed to take it seriously when a man was raped by a woman, yet clearly had no trouble at all wildly overempathizing with the horror that was a man getting raped by another man. This is the answer, and it’s a pretty sad one.
On an end note, though, I can’t help but preemptively sympathize with the author of the original Feministing community blog post–one of the very first responses to her article was the following, by a self-described “MRAman:”
If you don’t like butt sex you should just say so. Nobody would be surprised anyway, since everyone knows feminists are always opposed to things men like.
Sigh. Yes, that must be it…well, if I’m lucky, our periodic trollers won’t be around to read this particular blog post and visit me with such sage perceptions as well. Fingers crossed.