How to Love the Butt (w)hole: Probing Deeper with Berlin’s Sex Educators, Part I

When COVEN BERLIN announced our ASSHOLES digital issue, I realized I had a lot of holes in my knowledge of the butt.  I decided the best answers to my sensitive questions could be found at Other Nature, a feminist, queer-, and trans- focused sex shop in Kreuzberg.  Other Nature has a great reputation as a judgment-free, sexy source of knowledge for Berlin. Lucky for me, they had just started running a workshop titled “How to Love the Butt (w)hole”, and the whole store was overflowing with advice, resources, and great butt-related puns for me to learn from. In Part One, read my interview with Sara Rodenhizer (founder and manager), and Kitty May (director of education) on all things anal.

In your career as a sex educator, how would you generally characterize the butthole-related questions, desires, or emotions your clients have? Has this changed over the course of your career? Have you seen any butthole-related trends emerge, or fade?

Sara: I’ve been speaking to people for over a decade in educational sex toy retail environments, and I’ve definitely noticed a greater openness about ass play emerge over the years. While lots of people are still quite shy or reticent about butt stuff (and there are surely lots of folks who don’t share their questions or experiences with us), I think more and more people are happy to talk to us about their curiosity, concerns, and other feelings surrounding anal play. Also, with the growing demand for non-toxic, quality sex toys comes an interconnected desire for good sex education and instruction delivered in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way. So I think that feminist, sex- & body-positive educational spaces are key to people’s increasingly appreciative relationship with their bums.

How has your personal relationship to assholes—your asshole, the assholes of others, or the general concept of the asshole—evolved throughout your life? For instance, do you remember any of your teenage asshole experiences or emotions, and do they contrast with your current relationship to assholes?

Sara: Through my work as a sex educator, I’ve definitely become much more excited by all things butt-related, and love the common ground that merely having a butt can create (because everybody has one!). Gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to bust myths and dismantle stigmas is empowering, especially as an educator, and can feel like I’m doing a real public service. But, my relationship with my own asshole is multidimensional, and often informed by the same negative messaging and experiences that infuse so many people’s mind-ass connection. The anal taboo, not to mention anal ignorance, is so much more gaping, messy, and complicated than any butt hole could ever be! So despite all my professional access to progressive bum-loving people and ideas, loving my own butt hole in all its asstastic wholeness, has been a slow, and ever-continuing, process. And I’m totally ok with that!

What is the linkage between a healthy digestive system, regular bowel movements, hygiene, and a loving relationship with your butthole? Can you offer your thoughts on practices such as anal douching or enemas?

Sara: I think that having a healthy gut and regular poop schedule make it more likely that you’ll want to explore yours or somebody else’s butt or that you’ll want somebody else to explore yours. If you’re suffering from cramps, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, yeast overgrowth, and other intestinal problems, it might be stressful or uncomfortable to imagine your butt as a source of erotic potential.

That said, if you struggle with digestive issues and other bum-related health problems, then cultivating a loving relationship to your butt can immensely help improve the state of your health. For example, hemorrhoids can be significantly reduced by bringing blood flow into the rectum and anal tissues through external sphincter massage, vibration, anal rimming, and other forms of erotic stimulation.

Having a healthy digestive system can also help to reduce the risk of passing or contracting STIs during anal play. Problems of the digestive tract often result in anal bleeding due to tearing and fissures, which give a direct path to the bloodstream, thereby increasing the risk of infection (including bacterial infections from fecal bacteria entering the bloodstream.)

If you have a healthy gut, you might be less concerned with the potential for poo-presence during anal play, because fecal storage in a healthy body’s digestive tract doesn’t tend to interfere with play areas.

In happy digestive systems, poop doesn’t enter the rectum (where most internal anal play takes place) until it’s ready to leave the body. So chances are you won’t encounter poo during play. There’s sometimes a little poo-residue in the rectum, but it’s minimal, totally normal, and really no biggie.

For the body’s poop signals to properly function, however, it’s important to listen to them and to poop when your body tells you to!

If you’re still worried about poo, or afraid that a partner might be, a shallow anal douche that rinses out the rectum is easy to do and may give you some peace of mind.

Do you have any advice on technique or language that could empower people to engage in anal play? Personal or professional advice welcome.

Kitty: With any new type of play, exploring alone is a great way to get started. When we’re alone we tend to be less inhibited, and we can focus all our attention on our own body and pleasure. Trying out different types of anal touch, with fingers or toys, and seeing what feels good, will give you the chance to see what you might like to try out with someone else. I think this is also a great idea if you’re primarily interested in playing with someone else’s butt: although bodies vary, knowing how something feels for you can really enhance your communication skills when trying it out with a partner.

Getting informed can be very empowering, and I think that is especially the case when it comes to anal play, where there are quite a lot of myths and misconceptions. Accessing accurate, sex-positive sex education, whether that’s reading books, websites, workshops or educational DVDs, can help demystify things. Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack Morin would win the Nobel Prize for butt sex literature, if only such a thing existed.

Sara: Also, my favourite tip from Pearl, Professional Butt Player and workshop facilitator of “How to love the butt (w)hole”, is to connect your exploratory butt play with a form of stimulation you already know you enjoy. The combination of sensations will forge new neuronal pathways connecting this new butt activity with feelings of pleasure and excitement.

Do you have any advice or anecdotes—personal or professional—on any of the following: engaging the anal ‘g spot’, scat play, eating ass, or anal prolapsing/rosebudding?

Sara: I think that way more people would try analingus (eating ass or anal rimming) if they knew about DENTAL DAMS. Dams provide a thin barrier between the anal opening of the receiver and the mouth of the licker. It’s a great way to stop butt bacteria from getting into the mouth, while still being able to enjoy the delightful tongue-against-anus sensations.

Can you offer some advice on practicing safer sex, specifically when engaging the butthole?

Kitty: Many STIs, including HIV, can be passed through penile-anal intercourse. Covering the penis with a condom before insertion and leaving it on throughout penetration significantly reduces the risk of transmission. It’s also possible to use an internal (sometimes called “female”) condom for anal sex, and even to insert it hours before play time!

The butt isn’t self-lubricating, so a good-quality lube is an essential part of your anal play. Any tears or abrasions in the skin increase the risk of picking up an infection – not to mention increasing the chance of discomfort and pain! So for safer sex reasons, as well as sexy fun times reasons, go slowly, use tons of lube, and never push your (or anyone else’s) body beyond where it’s happy to go.

Avoid transferring anything (body parts or toys) from an anus to a vagina: bacteria that are not harmful in the butt can cause infection in the vagina. Equally, using a dam for rimming reduces the chance of getting an infection from ingesting bacteria. Cover penises, hands, toys, etc. with a fresh condom or glove if moving from one orifice to another.

As with any other orifice, we would recommend only non-porous, body-safe materials, such as 100% silicone, Pyrex-quality glass, or steel. If you want to insert toys made of other materials, you can cover them with a condom.

Any toys that go in the butt need to have a flared base, so that they don’t get sucked up into the body. This can happen even if the toy/object is quite large, so always remember to look at the shape of the toy.

Imagine a society where calling someone an ‘asshole’ is a compliment: what would it mean and how could we use it?

Kitty: It would mean someone who is flexible, generous and inviting – to people who treat her right. As in “Betty just spontaneously suggested that we all to come over to her place tonight and she’ll cook us a feast. She’s such an asshole!”

 

Interview by Frances Breden

Haven’t read part II of the interview yet? Click here and enjoy!

 


 

Opened in 2011, Other Nature is a feminist, queer-, trans- and women-oriented, eco-friendly, vegan sex shop in Kreuzberg. It’s a sex-positive and education-oriented place, so you can feel free to ask questions as well as browse the toys, lube, books, and other awesome products. They also host regular workshops in-store. For more details and registration info, check out other-nature.de/workshops. Help yourself to the free tea in the bookroom!

Sara Rodenhizer is the founder and general manager of Other Nature. Kitty May is Other Nature’s Director of Education and an enthusiastic advocate of accurate, empowering sex ed for people of all ages.

Pearl Love Lee is a sex worker and sex/body-positivity educator, working internationally. Visit Pearl’s website or Twitter: @WorkingPearl.  To find out when Pearl will be teaching next, follow Other Nature’s workshops.

Frances Breden is an artist and curator, and has been working with COVEN BERLIN since 2014.

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