This month is Anal August at Fine Bone! and I've been operating a questionnaire on anal pleasure, to find out about the many different ways that people have been enjoying their bodies. This information is directly informing designs for a new tool I've been developing behind the scenes. I wanted to invite one of the participants Rachel, trainee sex therapist, to tell us more...
Hi Rachel, Thanks so much for participating in the Fine Bone Anal Pleasure questionnaire, I wanted to discuss your answers further because they seemed particularly insightful!
You work in and around sextech. Tell us about what got you into the field and why it interests you?
I started my journey in sexual health in 2018 when I began working for a small sextech startup called MysteryVibe. I’d
always been interested in learning about sexual health and pleasure but before working at MysteryVibe I hadn’t realised it was a potential career!
I then began studying for a Masters in Gender and Sexuality, where I focused my studies on topics and communities that I have always found interesting or been personally connected to - the LBGT community, psychology, kink and sex work.
I am now training to become a sex and relationship therapist, combining the knowledge I have gained through my studies with my real-world sextech experience. I’ve always loved helping people and talking openly and freely about sex, so I’m incredibly excited to begin this next stage in my career.
Do you think that there’s a stigma about womxn enjoying anal pleasure on their own terms? Or, are we past the point of anal sex as a taboo?
I am lucky enough to spend most of my time in very sex-positive circles, so my view on this is obviously not representative of the average vulva-owner! I feel as though the stigma around people with vulvas receiving anal sex in heterosexual relationships has decreased massively over the past couple of decades - what was once seen as quite a kinky act has now entered the mainstream and is seen as relatively vanilla.
However, I feel like there is still a way to go before anal pleasure is accepted in the same way that anal sex is. For many men, I think the pleasure in giving anal penetration to someone with a vulva comes from the subversive nature of the act, and their partner’s pleasure is not the primary reason for wanting to do this act. I think being able to take your anal pleasure into your own hands and incorporate anal play into masturbation, or just experimenting with what feels good and then being able to take that knowledge into your partnered sex experiences is so empowering and is what we should all be aiming for!
Not everyone will enjoy anal play, and not everyone will even want to experiment with it, but I think if you’re curious about it, it can be a wonderful thing to explore and knowing your own body and what feels good is such an amazing feeling.
What does anal pleasure mean for you?
To me, anal pleasure means knowing what I like and what my body enjoys, and having more ways to explore and more possibilities for pleasure during sex - whether that’s solo or partnered sex.
Anal is often described as though if you don’t have a prostate you are unable to get anything from it physically, which simply isn’t the case! The internal clitoris surrounds the vagina and goes right back towards the anus, so it is completely possible to have an orgasm just from anal penetration if your anatomy is configured that way! Of course, an orgasm shouldn’t necessarily be the goal of pleasure, and one thing I love about anal pleasure is that I am often not focused on my orgasm so much as I am focused on all the sensations and really enjoying the moment (which then can often lead to an orgasm anyway!). I think that direct clitoral stimulation is often such a direct route to orgasm that it takes the fun out of exploring, and I feel as though anal play really reminds me to focus on the journey during sex rather than the destination.
You noted some specific pros and cons in the plugs that you’ve tried out so far. Can you recommend any ones you’ve enjoyed and why that is?
Some of my favourite plugs that I’ve tried so far have been the B Vibe snug plugs which are weighted silicone plugs with a chunky body and a very thin neck. I’m a big fan of a large plug-to-neck ratio, as often I find that those with thicker necks can shoot out as soon as your muscles start contracting! I love that they come in a variety of sizes, so there’s something there that appeals to everyone from the anal novice to the anal pro. I’m also a big fan of the way that they are weighted as it adds an extra feeling of ‘fullness’ which is one of the things I love about anal play. (However, one thing I would note about the snug plugs is that their flared bases are so large that they sometimes get in the way if I want vaginal penetration as well. This can be mitigated by turning it 90 degrees, but it’s definitely something to be aware of if you’re a vulva-owner!)
For similar reasons, I also love the nJoy pure plug line which is made of stainless steel and so has a similar weighty feel to it. With materials such as steel (and glass, and porcelain) you can also experiment with temperature too, which can definitely add to the experience.
One thing to always look out for in anal toys is that they absolutely must have a flared base on them - the way your sphincter muscles work means that there is a high risk that anything that can be sucked up, will be sucked up (and a trip to A&E to get it removed is not included in my definition of anal pleasure!)
Lest we forget... There’s also penetrating a partner to consider. I feel like when people talk about anal play it’s still very much a P in V type scenario and maybe that’s why womxn are still relatively quiet about anal enjoyment. Do you think there’s an open and healthy narrative around male penetration and is this something that interests you?
My favourite pegging fact is that the term itself was coined in 2001 by one of my favourite sex and relationship writers, Dan Savage via a popular vote on his weekly sex advice column! Obviously the act of someone without a penis penetrating someone (usually someone with a penis) anally using a dildo has been around waaaaay before 2001, but I love that the term which has now caught on in mainstream culture is so recent!
Again, I think my view on this is skewed because of my social circle and the media that I consume, but I feel as though pegging and male penetration are also becoming less taboo generally. Of course, there is still a lot of internalised homophobia around straight men enjoying anal pleasure, but I do think the conversation around this topic is slowly shifting. The number of people who I’ve brought up pegging with who are at first scandalised, and then curious, and then actively interested in it is incredibly high!
Thank you for your answers Rachel! I'll keep you posted on how the prototype development is going and hope to show you more soon.