How Eating Ass Went Mainstream

Once a taboo act only for queer people, rimming has evolved from a niche delicacy to the equivalent of a cronut.

If you haven’t eaten ass in the year 2021, you might be considered a prude — the sex act was just featured on HBO’s hit series The White Lotus, for God’s sake! But don’t worry, it’s not your fault.

For the longest time, we’ve been taught that asses are to be used solely for defecating, and putting your tongue — or anything — in this “dirty” area is repugnant, sacrilegious, inherently gay, or some combination of the three. Due to societal conditioning, abhorrent and homophobic sex education programs, and a host of other equally condemning factors out of our control, people have historically failed to understand that butts don’t have a sexual orientation, and whatever we choose to do with them is no indication of our sexuality.

However, in the 2000s, ass evolved from a niche delicacy to the equivalent of a cronut. A recent survey from intimate care brand Future Method found that roughly 42% of Americans have both given and received a rim job. Nearly twice as many people have had anal sex, which is interesting since analingus is analogous to cunnilingus for vaginal intercourse. (Try saying that three times fast.) As Dr. Evan Goldstein, an anal surgeon and the co-founder of Future Method, tells NewNowNext, the best part about analingus is that “everyone can enjoy it, no matter your anatomy.”

Of course, rimming is nothing new for the queer community. As I like to say, queer people have been eating ass since the Dead Sea was sick. From anal sex to pegging, Future Method’s survey found gays and lesbians were most likely to engage in all anal activities, followed by bisexuals and straights. This suggests that the farther you stray from heterosexuality, the likelier you are to play the rusty trombone.

via GIPHY

In recent decades, our collective hunger for hole has had a growing presence in popular culture. Rimming made its American television debut in 2002, when Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) is ceremoniously rimmed by her jogging partner in Season 4 of Sex and the City. (The Brits actually beat us to it: The original Queer as Folk, Russel T. Davies’s groundbreaking series about gay life in Manchester, England, actually featured a queer rimming scene in its 1999 series premiere. Scandalous!)

In 2014, Nicki Minaj released her hit song “Anaconda” to mainstream fanfare, famously rapping, “He toss my salad like his name Romaine.” (Nicki, icon that she is, also references butt-munching in 2011’s “Dance (A$$)” with Big Sean, requesting, “Somebody point me to the best ass-eater.”) That same year, HBO, evidently a pioneer in rimming representation, featured two vivid ass-eating scenes in both Season 1 of Looking (2014) and the Season 4 premiere of Girls (2015).

Though much of its support has gone under the radar, hip-hop has long been a pro-rimming genre, with mention in tracks like “Dreams” by Lil Kim (1996), “My Neck, My Back” by Khia (2002), “Post To Be” by Omarion (2014), “WAP” by Cardi B (2020), as well as many, many others.

That’s not to say eating ass was invented in the 2000s. Analingus has always existed. Take, for instance, Mozart’s 1782 magnum opus to rimming. The classic composer’s song, with a title that translates to “Lick me in the ass,” features lyrics you could really clap your cheeks to: “Lick my ass nicely / Lick it nice and clean / Come on, just try it / And lick, lick, lick!” It’s clear as douche water that Mozart’s a dom.
 

This tune came long before we even recognized the term “analingus,” which was first written in Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s book Psychopathia Sexualis, an early text on sexual pathology from 1886. Euphemisms for rimming — like “cleaning up the kitchen” — made the rounds in the mid-1900s and mostly served as codewords since sex acts associated with homosexuality were still illegal. As lexicographer and author Jesse Sheidlower told Vice, one of the more prevalent and colloquial terms, “tossing the salad,” can be traced to a ‘70s glossery on gay slang. (And despite being around for 50 years, people are still confused by the metaphor.)

As we continue deviating from heteronormative ideals of what sex is or should look like, we step closer toward sexual empowerment and bodily autonomy for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. It’s no surprise, then, that anal play, as taboo as it once was, has evidently increased in popularity. In 1992, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 20% of women and 26% of men ages 18–59 had tried anal sex; by 2008, both of those percentages nearly doubled. (The actual number is likely higher. Due to stigmas, people might not have been completely honest.)

Much of this correlates with a general increase in depictions of LGBTQ characters and storylines in pop culture. In a survey of the 2005–2006 television season, GLAAD estimated that just 2% of all characters on broadcast shows were LGBTQ. In GLAAD’s 2019–2020 Where We Are on TV report, that same figure is at 9%. It’s not a stretch to posit that authentic onscreen portrayals of sex involving queer characters, albeit shocking to some viewers — we’re looking at you, Gossip Girl and The White Lotus — have helped normalize and democratize sex acts that were once relegated to queer people.

Ultimately, the widely acknowledged popularity of eating ass is just another example of how media exposure can help erode stigmas… and how the queer community continues to blaze a trail for all things butt stuff. What can I say? We’re trendsetters.

Bobby Box is a freelance journalist and editor whose work on sex, relationships, culture, and sexuality has been published in the Daily Beast, Playboy, Them., Into, Women’s Health, Complex, PopSugar, among others.
@bobbyboxington