What do a 19th-century German sexologist and Canadian rapper Drake have in common? Rumors over the summer circulated about how Drake enjoyed getting his ass eaten by a female fan. This sex act is colloquially referred to as “rimming”––or more technically anilingus. I found out that, unsurprisingly, this sex act is not at all new and has been an area of interest to serious researchers since sexologist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing published Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886.
Titled “Warning: A Column on Butt Play,” this NYMag article published on April 8, 2014 proclaimed that “butt-stuff is such a thing,” citing Cosmopolitan and Playboy articles that centered on participation in the act. What I’m getting at is not that rimming and other anal-related sex acts are now “in,” but rather that people are now being honest about participating in them.
My experience as a gay man informs me––especially from squeamish straight friends––that these sex acts are relegated as queer since they deviate from the supposedly traditional male-into-female penetration scheme. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention––also cited in the NYMag article––notes that 44 percent of straight men and 36 percent of women have had anal sex. This means––since the gays are tragically less abundant––the larger portion of anal sex is happening between straight people.
All of this is meant to highlight that people of all sexualities have much more varied bedroom experiences then we would like to believe. The perception and shame around anal activities seems to be hygiene-related, on the surface level.
For the greater good, let it be known that rimming can be hygienic and absolutely safe—“normal” if you’d like. Cleaning just like you would any other part of the body will prevent unfortunate consequences; a dental dam will provide a barrier if desired. Communication and consent are obviously essential and should occur before any of us start exploring new and exciting territories on our partner(s).
Since everyone has a butt, its androgyny is likely more subtle in aversion to rimming as men might view this as an emasculation. These men should just get over it. Just like oral sex, reciprocity, if desired, should be stressed. Any shame you may have is understandable, but try to remember that none of these sex acts are new under the sun and that you have no reason to feel bad about what you desire.
Rapper Nicki Minaj might help us to begin to see rimming without negative stigma. On her new single “Only” featuring Drake, she raps, “Let em’ eat my ass like a cupcake.” Beside the dig at Drake, Minaj is likening the sex act to tasty desserts. The hope of all this discussion is a departure of shame from other sex acts. We as a culture are slowly, honestly beginning to admit that our sex acts are infinitely more varied than just images of “vanilla” sex.
On behalf of Drake, Minaj and myself, I urge you to try to broaden your horizons and let go of outdated and restricting models of sex so you can enjoy new intimacies you might be missing out on.