The Boys Don’t Like Anal

As someone who has seen way too many Marvel films and TV series I thought The Boys would be a nice antidote to the predictable three-act structure with the dubious final fight scene and  limited morality. The superhero world needs some cynicism and not just Batman’s grumpy malaise but something with wit. The Boys has been praised for doing just this – making fun of and deconstructing the genre while offering bloody violence and intrigue. A lot of its satire is very funny with some stellar performances from the likeably unlikeable super “heroes”. But four episodes in and I was becoming uncomfortably aware that the violence of the series also included a morbid and violent fascination with and disgust for the anus and anal sex.

Take episode 2, the superhero Translucent has been captured by the show’s group of unpowerful vigilantes. His skin is made of a carbon metamaterial which makes him both bulletproof and able to turn invisible. For the life of them the boys cannot figure out a way to kill him. Cut to Frenchie, one of the vigilantes who is…French, spotting a tortoise on TV. He watches as it retracts its head into its shell. I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Yup, they drug Translucent and insert a bomb up his anus. Hilarious, right. They want to use it to keep him under control but it’s not long before he gets blown to pieces. Like a lot of graphic violence this is played for laughs and the fact that Translucent has something forcibly inserted into his anus when he’s drugged is part of the joke. Cut to another scene in which the superpowerful Popclaw, high on drugs, is straddling a man’s face. “Eat my ass,” she screams but it’s not long before she crushes the guy’s skull with her bum. Hilarious, right. Come episode four, Frenchie and another of the vigilantes, Mother’s Milk, are having a row about a superpowerful and violent women they had tried to capture but who got away.

Mother’s Milk: So where’s the girl, Frenchie? Since you’re the psycho chick whisperer all of a sudden.

Frenchie: Maybe subway. Maybe she wants to find a train, no?

Mother’s Milk: Oh, yeah? How deep up your ass did you pull that out?

Frenchie: Well, it depends. How deep does your tongue go?

Witty dialogue, right? I mean the thought of Frenchie having a subway train up his bum, lol. And the thought of Mother’s Milk rimming Frenchie with a really long tongue, gross! A few moments later and Frenchie says, “I understand it’s hard for someone who’s anally OCD to understand.” Another anal joke mixed with a mental health one. Hilarious!

Nope. Anal sex is not gross and is often amazingly pleasurable for the people involved. Yet The Boys treats the anus as a site of ridicule, disgust, and violence. Anilingus between guys is referenced as something gross, thereby ensuring the series is mega-homophobic. Meanwhile, a guy getting a bomb forced up his anus and a woman crushing a guy with her buttocks are played for laughs, while the sexual violence, homophobia and sexism of these jokes are completely ignored. Add to this that the protagonists’ of The Boys are pretty much all male. The heroes we’re meant to root for are the guys cracking jokes about anal violence, which means there’s no way the series can step back from the homophobia and anal-phobia (for want of a better word) and critique them. They’re treated as normal. Of course, what we’re really looking at is toxic masculinity within patriarchy predicated on, amongst other things, homophobia, sexism and an utter fear and disgust of the anus. These are what make boys men and we’re supposed to laugh along with the joke. I don’t think it’s funny.

But what if one of the male protagonists enjoyed anal sex and it wasn’t treated as a joke or something to be ashamed of? Perhaps he uses a dildo, perhaps his girlfriend rides him with a strap on, or perhaps he just uses his finger. Or what if there is a male character who sleeps with other men and enjoys it and we can understand the pleasure and empowerment he gains from it? The only male character I saw in the show who gets with other guys was a total creep #herewegoagain. A show like The Boys is totally ill-equipped to present male liberation, leaving its characters to no-homo each other and make anal sex/rape jokes instead. Not for me, thanks.

Anal Sex(ism)

I posted a while back on the anus and I am going to do it again because anal sexism is rife. It hides in plain sight in our everyday language and we don’t even know it’s there. Once upon time ‘gay’ was just a pejorative adjective we casually used, not thinking that it undermined and tokenised a whole community, permitted violence to be perpetrated against said community whilst also undermining our own lives and the freedoms we could enjoy. We now know better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to anal sex.

“He’s such a brown noser.” You know, that terrible person who’s always trying to impress the boss or sidle into each social clique. The idea that putting your nose near someone’s anus is disgusting and befit only of sycophants and losers. “Just go shove it up your arse.” Yeah, you, that person with terrible views and an irritatingly loud voice. Go on, “stick it where the sun don’t shine” because only people we don’t like do things like that, nothing worse than putting something in your anus, amirite. “Ugh, their head is so far up their own arse.” They’re just so arrogant, so self-obsessed, so selfish, so self-absorbed, and naturally all those states of being need to link to the anus, that grim place where terrible things happen and with which we should only associate the bad.

Many of us use these common phrases without a second thought but what we might not realise is that they denigrate a whole host of people who enjoy anal sex. They denigrate the men who like men who like bum sex. They denigrate the women who enjoy anal and are probably already getting enough flack for it. They scare the questioning and the curious who are tempted but worried exploring the anus will make them ‘look gay’ or land them a whole host of ridicule and bullying. And they affect you too, the sayer of such seemingly simple phrases because they belie your fear, your ignorance and your prejudice. That’s not to say you’re a nasty person, of course not, I bet you’re really nice, but you live in this society after all which is so interwoven with prejudice and phobia. It’s probably woven into you as well and you hadn’t even noticed.

And finally, perhaps most obviously yet insidiously, there’s the most famous phrase of all: “Stop being so anal.” It’s blunt, isn’t it. It’s not circumnavigating the issue, it’s a direct order to stop being deviant because deviance is bad and deviance gets persecuted, bullied and beaten. Don’t do that, just be normal and stop being so anal. Stick to conventional sex, recondition yourself and we’ll let you fit in. No, I don’t like the sound of that one bit, I’ll be anal if I want to be. So next time, catch yourself as you say it or stop yourself in advance. Say something else, use the vast vocabulary of the English language and stop permitting persecution and prejudice. And, yeah, I get it, you’re not a bigot and you are a good person but that doesn’t give you carte blanche with your language. Freedom of speech isn’t just a right, it’s a responsibility. Use it well and leave the bum well alone (unless you’re going to sing its praises).

Bums
A great gallery of male bums from ohnips – http://ohnips.deviantart.com

Does The Thought Of Anal Sex Disgust You?

Not wanting to write about the Referendum again and inspired by fellow blogger Freakypeach’s great post on anal sex, I thought I’d put my head above the parapet and put a good word in for the bum. I want to write this because I know a lot of very nice people who do lots of nice things, however, when the topic of anal intercourse is breached their niceness slightly slips. Some make faces of disgust, some shudder, some don’t want to talk about it, some imply it’s just a little too deviant, whilst others brush it off as ‘unhygienic’ and then start talking about the weather. So consider this post my attempt to counter the stigma attached to anal sex and if, at the end of it, you’re still not convinced then please just remain quiet on the matter and support those friends of yours who want to engage in whatever consenting forms of sex they wish.

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“But it’s the bum!” I have heard many anti-anal-sex folk cry. “We poo out of it.” And their knowledge of human anatomy is spot on as, I imagine, is that of those who’ve had anal sex. And yes, whilst we do poo out our bums like many other things the bum can be cleaned. Douches, flannels, bidets, showerheads…there are an awful lot of ways to keep one’s back passage clean, advisable for all of us, not just those wishing to use our bottoms for sexual gratification. So yes, like the penis, vagina and any other part of the body, the bum can be dirty but it can also be clean. “But it’s poo, I mean, poo!” Yes, I heard you the first time and maybe this is just about your own lack of anal hygiene that you’re assuming everyone else suffers from. If you really can’t get over this hurdle then please just skip to the last paragraph.

So, with a nice and clean bum (or not, whatever works for you) we can now engage in some anal intercourse and guess what, it can be extremely pleasurable. People of all genders enjoy it and many folk even have prostate glands up their back passages and that can enhance the pleasure. To be quite honest there’s a world of experiences to be had up there whether you’re doing it with your fingers, a dildo, butt plug, vibrator or someone else (or a number of people for that matter). Of course, if you don’t want to have anal sex that’s absolutely fine and I hope no one ever makes you feel bad for not doing it but this post is about the people who do want to do it. Please don’t negate, trivialise, ridicule and/or discriminate against their desire to do whatever they like with their bottoms.

In essence, this boils down to stigma. As a male member of the queer community (although these facts don’t tell you whether I’ve had anal sex, want to or even fancy people of my own gender, that’s still none of your business) I’ve witnessed and experienced a certain sort of prejudice: if I got a quid every time I’ve had to watch ‘straight lads’ faux bumming each other because that’s the height of humour (and they’re too repressed and insecure about their sexualities to actually get down to it and shag their mates) I would be rich. Or every time people I like have warned me against the dangers and the lack of hygiene as if I haven’t considered these things for myself. Or people proclaiming “but we poo out the bum” as if that ends the debate. Or been told that what queer men do to each other is deviant. Or read about queer people being beaten up and killed for liking anal sex. The list goes on. If you have nothing positive to say about the joy that is anal sex then please say nothing. Please just support your friends in their adult decisions to have sex however they like. Here’s to the bum!