EWWW....Anal Sex is Icky!

Men, Women and Anal Sex

Posted Feb 06, 2010

Do men and women differ in their attitudes toward anal sex? Are these attitudes related to anti-gay attitudes?

Recent research by psychologists at the University of South Florida assessed these issues.

In the first study, male and female participants (235) were assigned to read a description of gay men having anal sex. Overall, participants showed greater disgust towards the male who was penetrated (bottom) than the male who was the penetrator (top). In addition to sexual position,  participants read a description of the gay male that was stereotypically feminine or masculine.  When the description matched the sexual position stereotype (e.g., feminine male on the bottom), males higher in initial anti-gay prejudice had more disgust (compared to those low in prejudice). However, when there wasn't a match (e.g., a masculine male on the bottom), disgust was equally high regardless of prior attitudes toward homsexuals.

In a follow up study, they assessed attitudes toward anal sex based on the gender of those having sex. Male and female participants read descriptions of either a heterosexual or a homosexual couple having anal sex. Results indicated that males had more disgust when it was performed by two men than a man and a woman.

However, and interestingly, women found gay male anal sex just as disgusting as heterosexual anal sex. BUT, men did not find heterosexual anal sex disgusting overall, and found it less disgusting than women.

Together, these studies suggest that disgust is increased by gay male anal sex, and especially for the male in the penetrated role. A wide range of research shows that disgust triggers an avoidance response. So basically, people could avoid homosexuals because their primary sex act (which they can't do anything about) elicits feelings of ickiness (in a lot of people).

Another interesting implication could be that men might seriously hurt their chances of sex (or even interaction) with a female, if they make a request for anal sex (since a lot of women find this disgusting). As evolutionary psychologists have suggested, disgust evolved to protect people from things that could cause illness (e.g., bad tasting foods, vomit, urine), because it elicits a flight response.

(as an aside, anger is said to have evolve to invoke a fight response).

I once heard a disgust researcher say that he runs the risk of being perceived as disgusting just by mental association with his research. I hope you don't find me (or anal sex, or homosexuals) too icky!