I recently spoke to Gareth May, who was working on a piece about pegging in popular culture. There were a lot of questions in Gareth’s query, so I addressed them in a rather “bulk” way.
Our full correspondence is copied below.
Gareth May: Why is pegging having a bit of a moment now? It was recently featured in an episode of Broad City, suggesting it’s emergence into the mainstream, and sex toy brand LELO said they had more interest in male anal play last year than any previously. What sexual sociological factors could be at play here? Are men more inclined to explore and question the negative connotations of certain sex acts than ever before because gender roles are becoming blurred and masculinity multifaceted? What is driving this change?
What does the increased interest and practice of pegging say about modern heterosexual relationships? And society at large?
What are the psychological gains to be had from experiencing pegging outside of the bedroom. Sex educator Charlie Glickman has said that from a male perspective having to get ‘warmed up’ for pegging rather than just shoving your dick in somewhere is a good thing for men to experience and indeed, when I was pegged last year, understanding vulnerability in that sense certainly resulted in a greater balance between my future male/female sexual relations. But what about beyond the bedroom? Obviously, pegging doesn’t have to be about domination and submission but if we take gender stereotypes can such a reversal have a positive impact on male/female relations?
Lastly, linking to the above, as Charlie Glickman wrote back in 2011, can pegging really save the world?
DrCT: Pegging has been around for a while now — certainly as long as there’s been sexual play, there’s been anal play. And as long as there’s been anal play, there’s been some version of pegging.
Erotic media shows ebbs and flows in pegging’s place, space, and/or visibility in our social consciousness. For example, there’s a pegging scene in “The Opening of Misty Beethoven” (1976) — arguably one of the most progressive and popular/mainstream hardcore sex films ever made. Then pegging all but disappeared from mainstream adult content until about 2008. This speaks to ebbs and flows in our awareness and acceptance of “taboo” sexual play that destabilizes gender normatively. I wrote all about this in this research paper (published by Sage) here: http://sex.sagepub.com/
But what this ebb and flow in pegging’s popularity may point to is an ebb and flow in wider social ideals about sex, sexual proclivities, and exploring them. Many would argue that, regardless of what people were doing behind closed doors (because people have always done *everything* – openness and social acceptance is what varies), people were far more sexually free and out in the open in the ’60s and ’70s than they were in the following two or so decades. We have seen such an explosion in public gender awareness, understanding, and a willingness to explore boundaries (and the social norms that contributed to the construction of said boundaries) in the past 10 years — it’s only logical that pegging (which was so “hidden” when I wrote up that study in 2010 that I couldn’t even find a reference for it that passed “academic muster”) is now something we see in a blockbuster comic book Hollywood film (Deadpool).
The idea that “pegging can change the world” that Charlie alluded to (I am not sure if you are saying it was his idea or his reference — please attribute accordingly) is very powerful. Sexual behavior may certainly deepen “gendered” understandings of sex, bodies, and even the implications we ascribe socially to various sexual acts, especially for people who are open to the possibility. This is not to say that I think society has gotten to that place, collectively. But the fact that it is even a possibility now is extremely significant.
Well, what do you think about pegging (bro)?