The Thing About Teens and Anal Sex

A shocking new study has revealed an unfortunate truth about the nature of sexual relationships between teenagers today. Anal sex is becoming increasingly prevalent — but not necessarily as a result of mutual consent.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine interviewed 130 girls and boys between the ages of 16 and 18 in three sites across England. Their study spanned the country, involving the urban epicenter of London as well as rural destinations in the South.

The team concluded:

Anal heterosex often appeared to be painful, risky, and coercive, particularly for women. Interviewees frequently cited pornography as the ‘explanation’ for anal sex. . . . Other key elements included competition between men; the claim that ‘people must like it if they do it’ (made alongside the seemingly contradictory expectation that it will be painful for women); and, crucially, normalisation of coercion and ‘accidental’ penetration. It seemed that men were expected to persuade or coerce reluctant partners.

What is it about our generation and the era in which we live that fuels this reality? The increasingly explicit nature of the media — including pornography — in addition to modern gender roles are likely contributing to the coercion that occurs in the bedrooms of teens across the world.

The role of sex education is more important now than ever. However, educators must be incredibly careful with the message they impart. The Washington Post presents us with an essential point about the nature of modern sex education: “Instead of talking about consent, we should be aiming far higher. We should be encouraging young people to think about 'mutuality.'”

It's true — the notion of "saying yes" just isn’t good enough. We must ask ourselves what constitutes "consent." Partaking in any sexual activity, including anal sex, should entail mutual enthusiasm on behalf of both partners. Not just an "OK."

Image: Stuart Conner/Flickr