PLEASURE & HEALTH: A GUIDE FOR MEN AND WOMEN
By Jack Morin
(Down There Press/Revised Third Edition 1998/275
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
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 The outdated laws no doubt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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
The above was published in BigO #174 (June 2000).