A Little Anal Retentive How the Far Right Tried to Rebrand a Conversation about Sex Education
By Bill Taverner
It was one workshop in particular that really caught the attention of our detractors, so much so that they made sure to attend that workshop – from among 40 course offerings – to get all the juicy details. The workshop was appropriately titled “Healthy Endings: A Workshop on Anal Health and Sexual Safety.” Why a workshop about the anus? As the workshop description notes, about 40% of adults report having engaged in anal intercourse. (As comedians have noted, the other 60% have a "friend"...) Public policy professionals have long been aware of the association between unprotected anal intercourse and HIV, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. So the question isn’t so much why we would have a workshop teaching about the anus and sexual safety – but why wouldn’t we? The course reviewed physiology and recommendations for health and risk prevention. It also included a fact sheet that provided comprehensive information about the anus. One fact on this fact sheet cited research and commentary from scholars in the field on sexual safety in the context of butt plugs and other toys, being responsive to the common usage of such toys among adults. It is important to know that almost half of the sex educators who attended the conference identified their primary audiences as adults. However, those heckling our conference were trying to paint the picture that we were training middle school teachers to teach their students how to more effectively use their butt plugs.