Behind trend


Amis in front of (or behind?) a trend

An excerpt from "A bit behind," by Zoe Williams, The Guardian, Saturday May 10, 2003:

Bums. British society is obsessed with them (and two in particular) like never before. But why? Is the commodification of our sexuality to blame? The retreat of feminism? Or something to do with the economy? Zoe Williams investigates

Martin Amis has been famous for his arse-centricity since 1980, when he contributed to Penthouse the short story Let Me Count The Times - it included the line, "Vernon sodomised his wife twice a year... on his birthday, which seemed fair enough, but also, ironically (or so he thought), on hers." Amis's forthcoming novel, Yellow Dog, is partly inspired by his own research into porn (or, in his 1980s terminology, "porno"), research that rapidly led him to the conclusion that porn these days doesn't stretch to any sex other than anal. "Pussies are bullshit," he famously reported in an article about porn(o) two years ago, an observation made by porn(o)-maker John Stagliano. In other words, pussies are for, well, pussies - real men prefer to watch it up the papa. But isn't this roughly the same as saying, "Women are pointless"? Isn't this, again, about competition?

Now, John Stagliano and Buttman, the western world's second most popular arse-fixated porn star (after Seymore Butts), are one and the same person, so conceivably there is a bit of bias going on there. But the fact is, of the three most popular UK porn vendors on the internet, two name their number one bestseller as Omar's Arse-Fucking Anal House (the third names an Amateurs video). Which brings us to the question: how many people are doing this in their own homes? Figures are relatively scant - the most recent National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, in 2000, found that the practice of heterosexual anal sex among women rose from 6.5% in 1990 to 11.3% in 2000 (an increase of 73%) and among men from 7% to 12.3% (an increase of 75%).

. . . 

There is another, far more obvious misogynist top note to anal sex, and that is that many women don't like it. The bald truth of the matter is that men have an anal G-spot and women don't. Eschewing vaginal for anal, therefore, is just another way of saying to women, "Your pleasure is secondary, if not irrelevant." Which is fine, in its place, once in a while (on your birthday?), but not fine if the whole sexual culture is driving in that direction. Now, this is not the whole story: The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex For Women, by Tristan Taormino, provides sound physiological reasons as to why anal sex shouldn't have to be a girl's own nightmare, as well as techniques for the proof thereof in the privacy of your own homes (I'm too squeamish to go into this; look it up on Amazon). But what kind of cultural trajectory is that? To idealise a mode of sex that effectively excludes one party, and then have to backtrack to re-include that party? Why not idealise a mode of sex that everyone can start off enjoying?

. . . 

Anal retentiveness has been taken up as a shorthand for people who like to organise their desk items at right angles to each other, but the more faithful rendering of the anal character, as defined by Freud, is a person whose main energy in life is directed towards having, saving and hoarding money and material things. It's a stretch, I grant, to extrapolate from this that an anally-fixated society is one that, by definition, directs its main energy towards having money and material things. But it is certainly the case that we are hurtling towards the apex of capitalism, the most materialistic age man has known - and we are also fixated by Kylie's butt.

. . . 

Like any change in social mores, one assumes the arse thing is a move forward. One assumes that the deification of the lady arse is a blow for feminism, for womanliness. One assumes that the chorus over J-Lo's butt is a blissful union of black and white body ideals. One imagines that the rise and rise of anal sex is striking out in the direction of sexual liberation, of understanding, of the breaking down of barriers. One hopes that the day everyone has his and her brown wings will be the day humanity realises, and rejoices in, its proper urges. And all this adds up to a nice theory - but there's a crack in it.


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