The front lines of the “back door”: Navigating (dis)engagement, coercion, and pleasure in women’s anal sex experiences

Breanne Fahs, Jax Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Despite the frequent depiction of heterosexual anal sex in pornography, and growing indications that heterosexual couples engage in anal sex, almost no research has examined women’s subjective experiences with receptive anal sex with men. This study draws upon qualitative interviews with 20 American women (mean age = 34, SD = 13.35) from diverse ages and backgrounds to illuminate five themes in women’s narratives about receptive anal sex: (1) initial resistance followed by submission; (2) initial interest followed by withdrawal from subsequent anal sex experiences; (3) violence and coercion surrounding anal sex; (4) social norming (e.g. men’s male friends normalizing heterosexual anal sex; seeing anal sex as normative after watching pornography); and (5) pleasurable experiences with anal eroticism. Implications for the re-evaluation of consent, imagining a continuum of sexualized violence, heteronormative assumptions about access to and power over women, silences surrounding non-penetrative anal eroticism, and women’s (dis)engagement with anal sex are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-520
Number of pages21
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 8 2014


  • anal sex
  • gender norms
  • patriarchy
  • sexual consent
  • sexual health
  • women’s sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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