Everyone has an anus. But everyone’s asshole, or “back hole,” does not receive the same treatment. Broadly, anal refers to anything related to or involving the anus and its proximate area. As a keyword for gender and sexuality, anal provides an alternative framework for social theory that decenters the phallus and reproduction as well as the normality these impose and imply. By centering the anus rather than the penis, the term becomes a critique of patriarchal values and social hierarchies (Hocquenghem [1972] 1993). The focus of analysis shifts from traditional masculinity to gender ambiguity, from obligatory labor to pleasurable experience, from the chaste to the erotic, from pride to shame. Anality as an orientation, an approach, and a practice seeks to evade heterosexist life-course models.

This essay may be found on page 21 of the printed volume.

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