The Government is concerned that increasing numbers of young people are trying anal sex, according to an official consultation.
Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are baffled at the increased popularity of the act despite apparent “research” suggesting it is not pleasurable for women.
The warning is included in a consultation document issued by the Department about plans to further restrict access to online pornography. It argues that young people are trying anal sex as a result of having viewed pornography, and that this is an unwelcome development.
“Many people worry that young people will come to expect their real life sexual experiences to mirror what they or their peers see in pornography, which often features ambiguous depictions of consent, submissive female stereotypes and unrealistic scenarios,” the consultation reads.
“There is also a question about the effect of pornography on ‘unwanted sex’ – for instance more young people are engaging in anal intercourse than ever before despite research which suggests that it is often not seen as a pleasurable activity for young women.
“While the increase in anal sex cannot be attributed directly to pornography consumption, it does feature in a large percentage of mainstream pornography (for example, one content analysis found it featured in 56% of sex scenes).”
The consultation suggests that restricting access to pornography might reduce the numbers of people trying anal sex.
Officials supported their view by citing a 2014 British Medical Journal paper from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which collated interviews about the practice with 130 16-18 year olds.
That study actually however concluded that “accounts revealed a complex context [of people trying anal sex] with availability of pornography being only one element”.
The Government’s negative view of anal sex recalls opposition to the practice by Margaret Thatcher, who in 1986 watered down an anti-AIDS campaign so as not to acknowledge the act’s existence.
According to Cabinet minutes released at the New Year Mrs Thatcher sent a memo asking for a section on “risky sex” to be scrubbed from the campaign because “it could do immense harm if young teenagers were to read it”.
When the newspaper advert warning of the dangers of AIDS went ahead, she said: “I remain against certain parts of this advertisement. Adverts where every young person will read and learn of practices they never knew about will do harm.”
Homosexual anal sex was criminalised under law as “buggery” in England and Wales until 1967.