Teen Vogue recently published a guide to anal sex written by sex educator Gigi Engle. Aimed at “teens, beginners, and all inquisitive folk,” the feature was pretty straightforward—including tips on preparation, comfort and anatomy.
None of the language is gendered—instead, there’s information on analfor people with prostates and those without. The importance of “enthusiastic consent” and condom use are both heavily emphasized, and readers are reassured that although it’s often stigmatized, anal sex is “a perfectly natural way to engage in sexual activity”—with the caveat that “anal (like all sex acts) is not universally enjoyed by everyone, and that’s totally OK.”
Still, people lost their shit over it. (No pun intended.)
Commenters are accusing the outlet of corrupting innocent teenage girls by encouraging them to have anal sex—with a healthy dose of gay panic thrown in, to boot.
This week Christian site The Stream published “The Predator in the Fashion Magazine: Teen Vogue Coaches Teenagers in Sodomy.”
“Wake up, Moms and Dads!” the article warns. “A magazine produced for your teenage daughters is giving them explicit instructions on how to be sodomized.”
Because, of course, a young woman couldn’t have agency in her own sex life.
“It is teaching them to be used by a guy, in a very dangerous way, for his pleasure and satisfaction. It is giving the clear message to every teenage boy that it’s perfectly acceptable to sodomize a girl, to use her, even physically hurt her for the sake of an orgasm.”
And then we get the homophobic kicker—”And, of course, it is glorifying as good, normal and healthy, the harmful practice of homosexual sex.”
While anal play can be pleasurable for both men and women, you wouldn’t know that reading criticism of the Teen Vogue story.
“This sounds like an article that’s trying to convince somebody to try this,” claims conservative YouTuber Wild Smile in a video. “And oddly enough, it’s written by a woman.”
“Hey,” he continues incredulously, “Here’s one woman who has no problem saying, ’I like anal sex.'”
Complaints didn’t just come from the right, though: Some feminists criticized the use of the phrase “non-prostate owner” to define women, and complained about the lack of a clitoris in the diagrams included in the piece.
“Not only is any potential pleasure a woman may feel during anal sex reduced to the lack of male body parts,” wrote JJ Barnes for the Independent, “but the clitoris, the actual hub of female sexual pleasure, has been removed. The lack of a male body part is the focus of what defines the female body, and what is actually there isn’t identified at all.”
“What is this teaching the audience of a magazine aimed at teenage girls?” Barnes asks. “It tells them their identity is not ’woman,’ but rather ’non-man.’ It tells them that should they consent to anal sex, their body is just a hole for the man to penetrate, and the part of their body that is most sensitive and reliable for the female orgasm is so irrelevant that it doesn’t even warrant a label.”
People had plenty of opinions on social media, too.
“THIS IS LIBERALISM AT ITS TOP FORM…#boycottteenvogue” proclaimed one Facebook user.
People sparred in the comments, as well.
Our favorite was the parent who declared “It’s times like these I’m happy to have boys!” (Because boys certainly aren’t having anal, right?)
Teen Vogue got it exactly right, the site is doing something to address the lack of straightforward, non-shaming, non-homophobic sex ed out there.
As Engle wrote, “It’s not doing your sexual health or self-understanding any favors to keep you in the dark.”