Swat Ed: Level Pegging

12 mins read

Swat Ed is The Phoenix’s biweekly sex education Q & A. We accept all questions and they are kept completely anonymous. If you’re looking for medical advice or a diagnosis for that weird thing on your genitals, get in touch with a medical professional! For everything else, email swatedquestions@gmail.com. Today’s subject matter is pegging.

My girlfriend told me last week that she wants to try having sex with me with a strapon. Apparently that’s something that people do. I thought that she was joking for a while, but she was being serious. She even said that she did it with her ex boyfriend. I’ve heard of gay guys doing something like that and I’ve heard people joking about guys that are really whipped. I kind of yelled at my girlfriend when she told me and I said I was sorry later but she was upset that I thought it was really weird. She said that a lot of people do it and that her ex really loved it and she got him to cum from it all the time. I looked online and a lot of people said that they liked it and had really good orgasms from it, so now I’m not sure what to think. My girlfriend thinks I hate the thought and hasn’t asked me about it again, so I don’t know how she’d react if I brought it up again. I’m not even sure if I want to bring it up. I’m still kind of grossed out by the thought and I don’t know if I like the idea. What should I do?

-Weirdly Intrigued butt Wildly Confused

There’s a lot to unpack here, but don’t worry, I think we can get to the bottom of it. I understand that this topic was a bit of a shock and something that’s hard to navigate, since it’s not something that we talk about in the public sphere a lot. Penetration between a heterosexual couple with the man receiving is totally normal and common, and it’s called pegging. It’s usually accomplished with the woman wearing a strapon, but you could do it fine with a handheld dildo appropriate for anal play — more on that later. There seems to be a few problems here to overcome: there’s your confusion on the subject, communicating about it with your girlfriend, and actually doing the act itself. Let’s take the time to break those problems down one by one.

Our culture pushes a specific and harmful narrative about the ways we engage in sex. That narrative is contributing heavily to your confusion, so we’ll start there. The narrative states that the default partnership is a heterosexual one, and within this partnership, the woman is the one who receives penetration. It also equates the act of being penetrated to submission and the act of penetrating to dominance. Certain sex acts are also assigned to sexual orientations (in this example, anal with male receiving equals solely homosexual). In this model, masculinity is defined as never showing vulnerability or relenting control. An act as inherently trusting and vulnerable as being penetrated would therefore be repugnant to this idea of masculinity. The ultimate effect of all of this is that it implies that being penetrated would make you less of a man, call into question your heterosexual identity, and establish your girlfriend as the unquestioned boss in the relationship (this is where the word “whipped” comes into play).

Dominance and submission, or any sort of power dynamic, isn’t at all tied to who receives during sex acts. In fact, the dynamics of sex acts are so dependent on the people doing them that what means one thing to one person might mean something entirely different to another. A person being pegged submissively might interpret it as a sign of the intense trust and comfort they experience in allowing their partner to do it, while a person being pegged dominantly might interpret it as an act of service, lying back and not having to do any of the work. Also, the way people act in the bedroom has nothing to do with their actual personalities outside of it. The idea of the control freak boss popularized by certain movies who is similarly controlling in his sex life and the corresponding submissive secretary is a moronic oversimplification that overlooks the diversity of human experience. After all, they’ve never tried to portray a switch that alternately coquettishly fetches bosses cups of coffee and dangles executives off the sides of buildings to move up the corporate ladder.

Sex acts are not sexual orientations. Straight men who go down on women are not called lesbians. By definition, sexual activity between a man and a woman cannot be gay. You might be using the word gay to mean feminine or submissive, which brings us back to the preceding paragraph. It’s also a homophobic thing to say since it implies that masculinity is only legitimate for straight men who penetrate women.

Having established that society pushes a narrative on us about men and sex, it’s up to you to decide whether your hangups about pegging stem from outward (society) or inward (if it’s something that you personally are genuinely not into). I think it’s fair to say that many of your hangups do stem from society since you got upset at your girlfriend’s suggestion. You wouldn’t have gotten upset if she had asked about something you really had no interest in, like seeing a boring movie or helping her aunt move. You would have just declined politely. If you really can’t figure out what’s societal and what’s personal, try it. There’s a pretty clear difference between “this doesn’t turn me on at all” and “I don’t feel like I should be turned on by this.”

As far as communicating with your girlfriend, explain in detail your various hangups. Emphasize that you are interested in the potential for an enjoyable sexual experience, but you feel overwhelmed and stranded without your normal script. She should respect your reservations and agree to move slowly and at your pace. She’s your partner in this, so you should feel comfortable telling her everything about it. It can be hard at first if you’re not used to that sort of vulnerability, but it’ll get easier.

Lastly, let’s talk about the mechanics of pegging. The reason that it’s so enjoyable for male-bodied people is because the prostate, the extremely sensitive organ that creates seminal fluid, is easily stimulated through the walls of the rectum. Stimulating the prostate can lead to intense, full body convulsive orgasms that many men describe as more all-consuming than more localized orgasms from penis stimulation. Some people can orgasm from solely prostate stimulation without touching their penis at all. So you’re right: it’s a great source of pleasure that, due to stigma, is frequently underutilized.

You don’t need to jump right in with a strapon to stimulate your prostate. Pressing on the perineum (the strip of skin between testicles and anus) with enough pressure can provide stimulation, although this doesn’t work for everyone. I would recommend starting out on your own. You can use gloves or a condom over your fingers and do it in the shower if that makes you feel more comfortable. The prostate is one to two inches inside the rectum and towards the direction of the penis; it’s a hard walnut-sized organ you should be able to feel with your fingers. Use lubricant, ideally a good thick silicone lubricant that won’t dissipate easily since anuses have no natural lubricant. It might take a little while to get past the new feeling that you’re not used to and start enjoying it. Relaxation plays into this too.

Once you’ve gotten a feel for what you like in terms of anal stimulation, you can incorporate it into sex with your partner. A lot of people enjoy a finger stimulating their prostate during oral sex, so that might be a good stepping stone. Remember that there’s no pressure to escalate to using a strapon; do what you enjoy when you want to. If you do decide you want to use one, make sure that you can comfortably accommodate a similar number of fingers to the diameter of the toy. Start small and move up. Use a lot of lube and go slowly to begin with. A doggy style position doesn’t tend to be the best for anal starting out, since it keeps your muscles tense. Instead, try lying on your side in a spooning position and relaxing. The increased skin to skin contact will also retain the feeling of intimacy. Keep in mind the learning curve that comes with trying all new things, and remember that the goal is to have fun.

P. Afdersex '69

P. Afdersex ’69 loves Swarthmore, friendly discussion, and positivity. They are studying human anatomy and communications and hope to one day start a movement toward yonic architecture to balance out the more phallic structures of the world.

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