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Is liking how the anus smells perverted?

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Sarika asks:

Delicate matter. My boyfriend and I both enjoy anal sex - that isn't the problem. He also tells me that he likes the smell of my anus (I should point out that this is after I've bathed - nothing to do with feces). When I masturbate I too like the scent of my anus but to hear him say it made me feel embarrassed. I told a friend, but she just said it was perverted and weird and reckons I should tell him that. I know sex is a personal matter, but am I that unusual?

Heather Corinna replies:

You know, even if it DID or does have to do with feces and the scent of feces it'd not be anything to be ashamed of.

Really, your friend is being a dope. If we know anything about human sexuality, we know that what's most normal is difference and variance, and that it's exceptionally difficult to be able to say, with any authority, that nearly ANY sexual behaviour or preference is "weird." Even the word "perverted" is arbitrary: it's always about what's seen as normal or abnormal by a given person's standards, which are often subjective. Not that long ago, oral sex was considered perverse by a great portion of the population, for instance, but about the same number of people would consider it very normal now, even though the practice itself hasn't changed in any way.

There's nothing wrong or unusual about finding the anus erotic or anything related to it: it's part of your genitals, and most people eroticize the genitals. In fact, we could almost say that it'd be pretty unusual or tough to explain why somehow the anus sometimes gets excepted from the genitalia in terms of the erotic, when it's so clearly part of that anatomy. On the other hand, plenty of people are put off by the anus because of fecal matter, perhaps because we think of what comes from our anuses and rectums as waste (though folks who use composting toilets certainly disagree), and so associate it with sickness, rot or death in some way, and thus, feel uncomfortable about it. Too, a lot of people have grown up with a lot of shame about their bottoms.

Point is, these options are really very personal, and vary an awful lot, and it's not very helpful to know if someone who isn't us or our sexual partners feels they're "normal" or "perverted." For sure, we want to be concerned with if things we're doing are safe, and with if what we enjoy for ourselves is doing harm to us or someone else, but since there's absolutely no way you and your partner enjoying each other's anuses and the normal scent of your bodies could do you or anyone else harm (so long as you're being smart about safer sex and the like when you're doing more than just sniffing about), that's pretty moot, here. You know YOU enjoy this and you know your partner enjoys this too -- since you also know that enjoyment does no one any harm, you know all you need to from who you need to.

Most studies done on the subject of anal eroticism of late show that it's anything but abnormal: a recent CDC study reported almost 40% of heterosexual men engaging in some form of anal sex, and and just over 30% of women. Since sex is a multi-sensory experience, we can safely include enjoying the appearance, scent, taste or feel of the anus in the anal sex people are having.

You're not unusual, Sarika. And coming from someone who finds herself immersed in work with a lot of people with a lot of negative feelings about their bodies, their functions, and the way they look, feel, taste and smell, not only do I think there's no reason for you to feel funny about this, I think that it's absolutely fantastic you and your partner are able to enjoy the way any part of you smells.

written 30 Aug 2007 . updated 03 Jan 2013

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