Dear Teen Vogue,
Your magazine professes to share topics related to, “fashion, beauty, & entertainment news.” You can imagine my surprise when I ran across your article entitled, “A Guide to Anal Sex.” I’ve taken the liberty of articulating my concerns regarding your suggestions. The author, told me that “this article is purely educational and seeks to inform.” Does it?
1. Your claim: This is anal 101 for teens.
As an educator, I value the dissemination of information, especially targeted for teenagers. You say, “if you’re a little worried about trying it or are having trouble understanding the appeal, just know that it isn’t weird or gross.” This feels more persuasive and less factual.
2. Your claim: Anal sex, though often stigmatized, is a perfectly natural way to engage in sexual activity.
Dr. Frederick Gandolfo, a gastroenterologist, ascertains that the anus is not designed for sexual activity.
3. Your claim:There is no wrong way to experience sexuality, and no way is better than any other.
Thirty-four percent of women that have anal sex suffer fecal incontinence (leakage of liquid, solid stool, or mucus at least once per month.)
4. Your claim: The feeling of having something in your rectal area is unique and can be delightful, though if you tense up, it will be less fun.
The Medical Institute reports that women who engage in anal sex report a high rate of coercion and emotional distress and stresses that this is incredibly important in educating our youth.
5. Your claim: Before having larger objects inserted, start slowly with a lubed up finger or a small butt plug and gently massage the anus as you work the object inside.
Anal sex can result in injury, including the perforation of your bowels.
6. Your claim: Condoms are nonnegotiable.
Condoms are only 72% effective for the prevention of HIV in receptive anal sex. In addition to condoms, the CDC recommends that those participating in anal sex also take daily medicine to prevent HIV, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
7. Your claim: You are entering a butthole. It is where poop comes out so expect to come into contact with fecal matter.
This truth speaks for itself.
8. Your claim: Anal sex and anal stimulation can be awesome, and if you want to give it a go, you do that. More power to you.
It also increases your risk of anal cancer and your risk of contracting HIV through anal sex is two times that of people that share drug needles. Power, my ass.
9. Your claim: When it comes to your body, it’s important that you have the facts.
I couldn’t agree more. People who engage in anal sex are at a 13 times higher risk for contracting HIV than those who engage in vaginal sex. In addition to being at risk for vaginally transmitted diseases, one is also at risk for hepatitis A, B, & C, parasites like Giardia and intestinal amoebas, as well as a variety of bacteria including E. coli.
10. Your claim: Gigi Engle is a writer and sex educator in NYC.
The author, Garrison Grace Engle known as Gigi is a 26 year old writer. In an email to me, she claims to not be a sexologist, though she does call herself a sexpert on her website. I greatly appreciate her explaining her stance and truthfully, agree with her. She wants teenagers to have access to proper, legitimate sex education. Me too. Parents should have conversations with their children. I agree.
I do not agree that she accomplished this and as for her claim that “many teenagers engage in anal sex?” Well, it’s wrong. Only 5% of females ages 16 and 17 do so and 18% of 18-19 year olds. We have a chance to really educate our children and this won’t it.
Her one regret was that she forgot to talk about the clitoris. Well, that’s good then. That was actually my biggest worry.
Adrian H. Wood, PhD
Writer, Educator, and Mother of Four Future Teenagers
Please email the editor at Teen Vogue with your thoughts.