Oral-anal, rimming, analingus, anilingus. They’re all synonyms for the sexual act of using someone’s tongue on – and in – another’s anal rim, for sexual pleasure. Let’s focus on ‘sexual pleasure’: don’t we all love a climax (or climaxes, if you’re doing it right)? No one ever answered no to that question. It therefore leaves me unremittingly curious as to why people are often averse to doing tongue-to-anus, as it’s just one of many erotic acts that people can do to reach that orgasm. Why are we comfortable with oral sex and anal sex, but not oral-anal?

It’s pretty simple. People think it’s unhygienic. Or that you can get sick. There’s the fear that you might end up licking or tasting shit. That being said, I am yet to meet a person who has had to face the reality of shit-stained teeth post-ass-eating.

Dr. Betty Dodson, a pro-sex feminist guru and fountain of knowledge, laughs that as long as an individual is healthy and hygienic, the anus may well be one of the cleanest parts of the body. Like the vagina, the anus has its own natural bacteria that help to fight infections. Otherwise, a little anal douching can be done before any anal play to put your mind at ease, and you can always take extra precautions by using dental latex dams. With this knowledge in mind, why are we still afraid?

It was time to get people to talk rimming. I spoke to individuals of different relationship statuses, sexualities and ages to find out who rims, who doesn’t and why. Some were reluctant to talk about it, others laughed, but most were very frank. Although my responses filled a very wide spectrum, there were some recurring themes.

even in our most private moments we worry too much about what people think

Between the heteros, only one of the seven couples I spoke to would both give and receive between each other. On further discussion, the male, age 19, tells me that “people have negative feelings towards it mainly because of social stigma… men can find it emasculating.”

The social stigma aspect provides a likely explanation for why only the females receive in my other hetero couples. One of my single participants, a 22 year old student, said he rims in the build-up to anal, but had “never received and wouldn’t want to”. Other guys, regardless of willing girlfriends, explained it was too “weird” or that they just “wouldn’t like it”.

Men are presented with the idea that enjoying anal stimulation is a gay characteristic. I would like to point out at this stage that all assholes are wired the same way. Having said that, the gay couples I spoke to were rimming on at least a semi-regular basis and loving it. That, my friends, is the happy ending of not giving a fuck.

Amongst the lesbians, one woman, age 34, laughed that “oral is a large part in, I expect, most lesbian relationships. It’s so routine and natural for me to have my head between someone’s legs that I guess it doesn’t bother me what orifice I’m going for”. On the other hand, a 27 year old lesbian painter (who admitted she was quite reluctant to talk about rimming) said “I enjoy my sex life and I don’t need to tongue someone’s shit hole to improve it”.

When I shared what I had learned from Betty Dodson with the hetero girls, for most, it changed nothing. They either didn’t think their boyfriends would enjoy it, or they were still grossed out. One girl, a 20-year old single student, believed that confidence is important in any sexual aspect, but she went on to say that she just didn’t have enough to try rimming. “Frankly, it’s not about what goes on in that area,” she shrugged, “I’m just not comfortable in doing it”.

Comfort. People only seem willing to rim in the safety-net of long relationships, and never during a one-night-stand. Nobody feels they can whip out the rimming card with someone new, a logic we don’t apply to (for example) blowjobs or cunnilingus. Anal rimming is a chance to leave our comfort zones and try something new, something that we could ultimately love.

If there’s anything to be learned, it’s that even in our most private moments we worry too much about what people think. Mainstream society is making progress (slowly but surely) when it comes to exercising feminism in sex and stopping slut-shaming, but we still have a long way to go in tackling sexual stigmas (particularly ones that are associated with gay men), and recognising our entitlement to explore and enjoy our sexuality.

Author: Rema Farhan