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The Phenomenon of ‘Accidental Anal’

Is it even a real thing?

In case you missed the backdoor memo, anal sex is all the rage these days for heterosexuals. Everyone is having so much anal sex now that apparently people are even experiencing anal FOMO, terrified that everyone is having anal sex without them. But in between all the people doing it on purpose and all the people wondering if they should do it or wishing they could, is another group: people who have anal sex “accidentally.”

Can they be real, or believed? Let’s find out.

Over at Savage Love this week, Dan Savage fields a question from a reader, ANALSLIP, who is troubled by a story their sister told them about accidental anal sex with her fiancé. It reads, in part:

My sister recently described a scenario to a friend and I that I would deem rape happening between her and her long-term fiancé. My sister, a vibrant and beautiful 29-year-old is in bed with her fiancé (let’s call him D) with her back to him, expecting some gentle laying down doggy-style. Instead, she receives D’s entire penis firmly up her ass. She screams, cries, and he pulls out citing that it was an accident. Later, she approaches him in hopes that their amorous endeavors will continue but he then refuses to touch her because he is “afraid that something bad will happen.” (As if it was her fault!) She was in pain for days after this lubeless and surprising anal encounter. She told us this was not the first time such sexual disaster struck — D is always “sorry” and acts as if she is the one that surprised him with not owning two vaginas. May I include that this man in twelve years her senior, had a ten-year marriage, and has two kids. He knows the difference between a vagina and an asshole by now, surely?

Savage makes it clear that he thinks accidental anal is a myth, the Bigfoot of sexual acts. He cites multiple past readers he has counseled on the issue, telling them again and again that there is no such thing as accidentally sticking your dick in the wrong hole, only assholes who pretend to be bad at hole detection.

For what it’s worth, definitions and porn categories for accidental anal don’t help matters. In porn, it’s treated like a sex thing that you may pretend not to want up front, but will love once you get a taste of it. Similarly, on Urban Dictionary, the term accidental anal either means simply slipping your dick into a girl’s ass on purpose without her knowledge — only, surprise! She loves it! — or two dudes doing some intense dude activity like wrestling or playing football, when, oops, one is fucking the other up the ass.

But when “real” people write about anal accidentally happening, it’s more like — if we’re using the sports metaphor for hitting bases — either a foul ball, or one person playing a totally different sport than the other. It’s no sensual delight, and can be accompanied by intense pain and bleeding. Anal sex that understands how anal sex works, with attention to the anus, anal sphincter, how it feels and all that jazz, requires, in his words, “focus, precision, and proper breathing techniques.” Whatever people are calling accidental anal, he concludes, is actually just “intentional, nonconsensual anal.” His advice? Dump these jokers.

To be clear, ANALSLIP’s sister’s fiancé sounds like a real shitbag who is not remotely confused about anything here except consent. I have no trouble believing theirs was the nonconsensual, bad, rape kind.

While some dudes are always going to be the fucking worst, it’s also worth noting that anal now seems totally commonplace to the extent that it appears everyone is trying it, and as a result, more instances of “accidental” anal are going to pop up. Anal has turned up in recent years as a thing on Girls and The Mindy Project, a popular porn search term and a Teen Vogue how-to. Hey, if even Gwyneth Paltrow is peddling it, it’s now something even your basic aspirational white girl ought to be conversant in.

This is not in any way meant to justify ass burglars; it’s only to say that when everyone’s acting like anal is as common as a blowjob, you’re inevitably going to end up with more dudes trying to stick it in the back door to mixed results. In a piece this year at Marie Claire, Gigi Engle elucidates precisely this consequence. Because it now seems like anal should be on the table for any sexual encounter, Engle writes, there are a number of women who are being pressured to do it. Men debate them on why they won’t try anal if they are otherwise so sex-positive. Some of the women report instances eerily like the ANALSLIP account where men simply invade the territory and won’t stop.

Many of them are simply doing consensual anal wrong, too, Engle notes — by not using the necessary lube, or by going too fast, too hard or too deep. Also, need it actually be said? Some people just don’t like anal. When a woman tells you that, believe her. Hillary Clinton said it best: For some people, the back door is the wrong door. So whatever you do, Engle writes, don’t, under any circumstances, assume that “no means try harder.”

All this is to say there’s a clear context where anal is unwanted and forced and terrible versus desired and wanted. And all that said, anal can still happen accidentally, and in Savage’s piece, he eventually concedes that, as readers point out to him, because he is gay and is only working with one hole down there, accidental anal — the real kind, not the rape kind — is a reality that isn’t going to be intuitive to him.

Here’s how real accidental anal goes: You’re a woman having sex with a man, doggy style or missionary. It’s in the dark, maybe you’re a little tipsy, maybe there’s a lot of lubrication going on, maybe he’s pulled out of your vagina momentarily or slips out, and then when he sticks it back in too fast and too confidently, the vigor and the lube slip the dick into the wrong hole.

In other words, it involves three things: lubrication, pulling/slipping out, and then unwieldy thrusting. This should not be constantly happening in sex between people who know how to have sex, but it’s common enough that Savage’s straight readers wrote in to explain overly vigorous thrusting and bad placement happens to them often enough. One writes:

You see, sometimes a woman gets wet enough that it’s a slip ‘n slide down there already. If you’re having sex in missionary at the right angle, the guy’s penis will rub against the back wall of the vagina. Take the above and add long, fast strokes where the head is barely between the labia, it’s easy to see how a penis could follow the wrong slip ‘n slide right in.

At least one of the readers makes clear that she and her husband also have anal sex regularly too, so it’s not as if their instances of accidental anal happen because her dude has to steal it under the guise of bad dick management.

Savage concedes that these reader tales of hetero accidental anal are more believable because they all involve vaginal intercourse gone awry, at which point the men — gentlemen, every last one — correctly and deliberately pull out immediately without going in too deep, and apologize because they didn’t mean to go there. Compare this with ANALSLIP, Savage notes, who clearly “rammed his entire cock all the way up her ass.”

So if it’s not clear by now, accidental anal — the real kind — should be rare and brief, and eventually something you can even laugh about with a partner you’d never violate, not frequent and disturbing. And like most things, any ramming of an entire cock up any ass should be intentional, consensual and, most of all, exceptionally well lubricated. That’s just good manners.