Anal Taboo: Truths And Myths

By Jack Morin

(Down There Press/Revised Third Edition 1998/275 pages/US$18)

For most of us, there is a part of our body which we come into contact with every day but would most probably hardly, if ever, get to catch a glimpse of, let alone get intimate with anyway. The anus is associated with waste and repulsive odours, and any physical contact with material emanating from this part of the body is considered unhygienic.

To most heterosexuals, the anus could be thought of as the exclusive domain of gays in terms of sexual activity. It certainly does not help quell the anal taboo that anal sex is prohibited by Singapore law, as well as the legislature in many countries in the west, which sees it as unnatural and therefore an offence.


Even in the United States, where enforcement of sodomy laws is rare these days, powerful political forces continue to lobby to keep these laws in the books as tools of intimidation or statements of moral principle, even though they have little or no influence on people’s actual behaviour. The outdated laws no doubt contribute to an overall repressive atmosphere, but the legal system is by no means the only device maintaining the negative attitudes toward the anal area and anal sexuality.

Jack Morin, an American Board of Sexology-certified sex therapist and a licensed psychotherapist, has been studying the erotic adventure as a clinician and researcher for more than two decades.

He believes that anyone who desires optimal anal wellness, which is not necessarily confined to those who wish to enjoy anal sex, should start getting in touch with this least understood and most misunderstood body part which even the most enlightened among us have overlooked or consciously ignored. Morin intends his book, Anal Pleasure & Health, not just as good bedtime reading but more to be actively experienced.

Morin's clinical experience leads him to conclude that the majority of common anal medical problems – especially chronic or recurring ones - are exacerbated and perpetuated, if not caused, by negative attitudes toward the anus, lack of anal awareness, and chronic muscle tension - which are the exact same conditions that limit anal pleasure.

Nothing can help a person develop and maintain anal health more than a comfortable, relaxed sensitivity to the anal area, including a willingness to explore it. Let's face it - the anal taboo seriously endangers our health!

The book begins by helping readers confront the anal taboo, which, according to Morin, serves significant social functions: our universal concerns with cleanliness; the association of receiving anal intercourse with femininity (in part because of its physiological similarity to vaginal intercourse) which runs counter to efforts of maintaining strict sex role differentiation; the belief that an inherent conflict exists between the spirit and the body and hence by intensifying negative feelings about a particular part of the body, the anal taboo reinforces religious doctrines; and fear that acceptance of anal sexual behaviour is correlated with acceptance of some form of homosexuality.

Even medical and mental health professionals are by no means exempted from the power of taboos. Doctors who have had to treat medical conditions caused by misguided, uninformed or forced anal sexual activities would tend to view anal sex as unhealthy. They fail to see that those who are having fun and feeling good are unlikely to require medical attention.

Anal health and pleasure begins with greater self-awareness. Besides leading readers to systematically free ourselves from the anal taboo, we are also guided into exploring the potential of the anal area for healthy self-affirming sensuality. There are chapters which give detailed guidance on self-exploration of the anus, from the anus opening to locating and exercising the anal and pelvic muscles before proceeding to exploring the rectum.


Morin believes that there is a constant interrelationship between the body and mind, the anus and our emotions. We are next prompted by the book to observe how our anus responds in a variety of situations throughout the day. We will soon discover that not only does our anus reflect whatever we are feeling but that our level of anus relaxation has a strong effect on how we feel.

As we pay more attention, we will gradually release that festering bundle of tension and become more relaxed and open. Morin advocates that an increased awareness of our anal muscles and their response to our emotions may be a catalyst for a global evaluation of the effects of stress on our body and what we might do to promote relaxation.

What Morin advocates in his book can also be extended to beyond the anus and anal intercourse. The principles apply to understanding how the rest of our body works and how we can go about using the techniques described by Morin to enhance our general sexual experience and enjoyment.

A promoter of personal responsibility in sexual matters, Morin included sections on the best and most suitable type of condom in any given sexual activity. Another whole chapter is dedicated to health problems involving the anus and rectum which includes information on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

There are specific instructions here on developing a personal safe sex policy as well as guidelines for anal self-healing. Morin even included a section where he cautions against the use of recreational drugs to numb the senses to the physical signs of pain which are actually cries of help by our body that things are not done right.

The chapter on realms of power which probes interpersonal dynamics is an interesting look at how the intricacies of power shape the roles we play in any relationship. Many people are reluctant to look at power in their erotic or general relationships because they think of it as primarily destructive, manipulative or coercive.

But Morin believes that in order to lead a more creative, self-affirming role in the world, it is beneficial to grapple with power honestly.

Any man or woman, regardless of sexual orientation, would then be able to expand his or her choices considerably by becoming more conscious of the infinite interactions between eros and power.


Morin's clinical experience testifies to the fact that those who set out with pleasure as their goal in any sexual experience are more likely to have more fun and satisfaction than those who are more concerned about their performance.

This book is a definite must read for anyone, regardless of any sexual orientation, who is interested to develop a greater self-awareness of their bodies for a sounder state of mind and health. The book promotes personal responsibility in acquiring physical health and safe sexual pleasure. Safe sex and self-awareness go hand in hand.

Safe sex is advocated not just as a prevention of disease, but also to protect the body against unnecessary bodily harm resulting from wrong or forced technique.

Greater awareness as well as increased and honest communication, Morin believes, will help people become less anxious about sex in general and free them to enjoy whatever they choose to do. Self-awareness will help us find out what works best for us in achieving the highest level of pleasure.

Morin has repeatedly observed that matter-of-fact discussions about the medical aspects of anal pleasure help demystify the entire subject and actually reduce fear, especially the irrational anxieties born of ignorance. - Kong Kam Yoke

Note: The above was published in BigO #174 (June 2000).

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