Hit & Run

British Culture Ministers Ponder Anal Sex

Could a ban on anal porn be coming soon?

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The U.K. Department for Culture, Media & Sport is concerned about the prevalence of anal sex in online pornography. In a report on age-verification rules for British porn websites, the department frets that anal sex is not sufficiently pleasurable for women and wonders whether porn may be pressuring the poor dears into it.

In a section on "normalisation of behaviours depicted in porn," the report states: "There is also a question about the effect of pornography on 'unwanted sex'—for instance more young people are engaging in anal intercourse than ever before despite research which suggests that it is often not seen as a pleasurable activity for young women."

"While the increase in anal sex cannot be attributed directly to pornography consumption," the report continues, anal sex "does feature in a large percentage of mainstream pornography (for example, one content analysis found it featured in 56% of sex scenes)."

That study, however, had nothing to do with online pornography. In the 2010 analysis, researchers looked at the content of rented VHS & DVD porn titles between 2004-2005. Films with what was deemed "idiosyncratic content," including "gang bang" and "virtual sex" scenes, were excluded. Furthermore, the paper used to assert that women don't like anal sex did, indeed, find that anal sex was reported as "painful, risky and coercive" for women. But it also stated that "evidence about the influence of pornography on anal practices is thin," as Jane Fae points out in Gay Star News.

Fae isn't pacified by the fact that no anti-anal edicts have yet been discussed by lawmakers. "Those of us who are old hands at the lobbying game are all too aware that [reports like these] are rarely the open-ended exercises in free-wheeling empirical inquiry that Ministers and civil servants pretend they are," writes Fae. 

Britons were invited to comment on the report over a two-month period that ended this week. 

Fae suggests that many of the problems identified in the report could be remedied by better sex education and more openness with regard to anal sex, but speculates that will happen instead is some kind of ban on anal sex in porn. If that sounds far-fetched, consider that the U.K. censors have already banned porn that features spanking, female ejactulation, and another of other specific sex acts.