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Maggie Gallagher opposes anal sex

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2011

“Defenders of traditional marriage” like to pretend that their objections to marriage equality are based in procreation or what’s best for children or religious freedom or culture or something, anything, other that bias, animus, or a desire to harm gay people. But sometimes their real motivates leak through the front they present to the world.

Take, for example, this portion of an essay by the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher:

Anal sex is painful, unsanitary, unsatisfying for women, and creates unique risks for serious physical diseases (if you doubt me, go read the Wikipedia entry on the subject) because the anus is not designed for sexual intercourse, increasing the risk of torn flesh and the intermingling of bodily fluids — blood, semen, fecal matter — that can spread an astonishing variety of diseases. The female partner is far more at risk than the man in these encounters. This should be a feminist issue.

Now, of course, Maggie is directing this rant to women. So it has nothing, no nothing at all, nope not whatsoever, to do with her views about homosexuality. And as some gay men don’t engage in anal sex and few lesbians as well, well then obviously this say nothing, no nothing at all, about Maggie’s perspectives of gay people in general. Right?

Except that Maggie isn’t just condemning heterosexual anal sex. In fact, that isn’t her target at all.

In the minds of anti-gay activists and others to whom Maggie directs her essays, homosexuality is inextricably linked with anal sex (lesbians exist as an after-thought). When a preacher rants, “it’s not natural,” and you know he’s thinking anal sex. Hear a politician declare, “that’s not how the body was created,” and it’s anal sex he’s discussion. See an erudite talking head with crisply parted hair and wire-frame glasses espousing his views on “complimentarity” and guess what he means? Anal sex.

So when Maggie attacks anal sex with imagery of “torn flesh” and blood and fecal matter and “astonishing variety of diseases,” it really isn’t about young women at all. Sure, she’d rather they engage only in vaginal intercourse with their lawfully married husband, but that isn’t her point. Rather, Maggie sees this as “dirty” and “icky” and, let’s be real, a homosexual practice that godly heterosexuals should have nothing to do with.

Maggie is generally pretty good at hiding her personal contempt for gay people. But sometimes, like this time, it seeps around the edges.

Comments

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Matt
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Two questions: one, is this essay of hers online? Where did you find it/come across it?

And secondly, what makes you so sure that she’s not directing this towards “young women at all”? My understanding of Gallagher and the way she thinks suggests to me that she probably really does see anal sex as a dangerous threat to women. I mean, think about her life story – the one she brings up constantly – she loved, and trusted, a man and he got her pregnant and then left her to raise the kid herself. And her whole life has been shaped by that experience – she talks about this all the time – and the need in society generally for us to utilize the civilizing tools of Christianity/Catholicism to keep society together and keep men from treating women like tissues, leaving them with the emotional burdens and the bastard children.

I’ve no doubt that Maggie Gallagher is sincere in her desire to stop all nonprocreative and nonmarital sex. But the rest of her agenda – which she is quite explicit and up-front about – is a no-go, because straight people won’t tolerate it. The gays, however, are not politically popular and thus she devotes most of her time and energy to us, while connecting it in her mind with her lifelong project of protecting women from what she herself so tragically and bravely endured.

Matt
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Just in case it’s not clear – I think Ms. Gallagher’s worldview and actions are reprehensible and morally repugnant. I’m not defending her. I’m just don’t think I agree with your assessment of her intentions in this case.

Rob San Diego
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

I wonder if the guy who got her pregnant was one of those closeted gays. You know the ones who were forced to pretend to be straight because that’s what society would prefer us to do? Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Ben in Oakland
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Actually, Matt, to some extent i agree with you.

What shows through this thing is that it is not about same sex marriage so much as the whole christianist-sex-is-sin-gotta-control-everyone’s-sexuality schtick that they do so well. It’s showing up in the maryland anti-marriage campaign, and it’s frequently showing up everywhere else where Mz. maggie opens her yap.

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Matt,

Sorry, the link is now attached.

Richard Rush
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Hasn’t Maggie said things like, “I harbor no ill will against gays, but God and I just feel that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that is all our campaign is about”? And I don’t recall her going into graphic detail about gay sex, like Barber/LaBarbera do.

So, I’m wondering if part of her essay, seemingly directed toward women, could be a ruse to get people thinking about the graphic details of gay sex, and thereby tapping into visceral disgust.

Public opinion is slowly moving in our direction on marriage, so Maggie knows she has to try harder. She needs to get people thinking about the nonstop SEX SEX SEX, and steer them away from thinking about people who deeply love each other.

Or, her talking about hetero anal sex may have the opposite effect of educating naive people that anal sex is not all that rare among heteros. Then, suddenly it’s not just a gay thing anymore, and therefore it doesn’t seem so disgusting.

Priya Lynn
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Richard said “Hasn’t Maggie said things like, “I harbor no ill will against gays, but God and I just feel that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that is all our campaign is about”?”.

Yes, numerous times.

Richard said “So, I’m wondering if part of her essay, seemingly directed toward women, could be a ruse to get people thinking about the graphic details of gay sex, and thereby tapping into visceral disgust.”.

I’m sure that’s the case.

Jimmy
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Oh come on, Maggie baby, how about just the tip?

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Richard,

She started with the whole “no ill will” stuff, but as public sentiment has grown against her position, she’s adopted a “they’re attacking me” mantra.

It’s a short step from “they’re attacking me” to “they’re vile and disgusting” and I think this may be a foray into new territory. I guess we’ll see if she starts adopting the language of blatant homophobia.

Matt
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for the link to the article. I still think it’s unlikely that Gallagher is working from a starting point of anti-gay animus to caution women. I think Gallagher works from the starting point of “I suffered, truly suffered, at the hands of men and their sexual savagery, and I must do all I can to re-orient society so that men are civilized by the force of cultural strictures with teeth and no other woman need go through what I did.” In other words, the man who heterosexually knocked her up is to blame for her crusade against the gays. I think in fact that she’s pretty up front about this. It’s all a part of “holding the line” against “further cultural breakdown,” or, in other words, picking the easiest target for one’s political agenda.

Richard Rush
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

“. . . the anus is not designed for sexual intercourse . . .”

These religious fanatics are so tiresome. They’re always trying to promote creationism by sneaking in the back door to spew nonsense about “[Intelligent] Design.” Those of us who refuse to be receptive to religious indoctrination know that the anus was not designed, it evolved.

Personal experience has taught me that the anus has evolved quite nicely for sexual function. It’s conveniently located, situated at a proper angle, well sized, and endowed with enough nerve endings to provide intense satisfaction with a lingering afterglow. Maggie needs to talk with her doctor to determine why she finds anal sex so painful, or maybe she should just pray about it.

Now, shall we talk about how well the mouth has evolved?

Richard Rush
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

OOPS!, I should have actually read Timothy’s whole post beyond the pull-quote before I wrote my first comment. He thoroughly covered the point I was trying to make.

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Richard,

Maybe it’s better to argue with her on her own terms.

Assuming that God designed the anus, precisely why was it that He placed the prostate where He did? And why did he make penetration pleasurable? Why do so many men – gay and straight – find anal stimulation to give more pleasure than any other stimulation?

What exactly, Maggie, was God thinking? Did he design all of this so as to create a unique form of temptation and increase His opportunities to punish his children for sin? Wouldn’t that make Him a masochist?

Or, perhaps, is appealing to “design” a particularly troublesome theological tool?

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

And your comment added very nicely to my point.

Erin
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t give a flying fack what sex acts Maggie opposes. She doesn’t have to do any of it, but she needs to shut her fat pie hole and stop telling other people how to live their lives.

Throbert McGee
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Assuming that God designed the anus, precisely why was it that He placed the prostate where He did?

Well, it had to go somewhere, and there’s only so much real estate available in the lower torso. So while Tim’s comment makes for a funny quip, I’m not sure that there’s anything TRULY noteworthy about the proximity of the prostate to the rectum.

[Looking at it strictly from an evolutionary POV, the general arrangement of having the urinary, fecal, and reproductive "exits" all in close proximity to each other, and clustered at the tail end, far away from the head, is universal among vertebrates.

I'm not sure whether there are natural-selection pressures that favor having these three very different "exit ducts" all close to each other or if the arrangement is essentially arbitrary.

But I do know that nature settled on this general arrangement maybe 500 million years before humans appeared, and perhaps 250 million years before there were even any mammals. So, in short, our prostate is where it is because the human body is a kludge-y redesign of a template that Mother Nature settled on back before our primitive vertebrate ancestors even had limbs or jawbones.]

Richard Rush
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said, Wouldn’t that make Him [God] a masochist?
Didn’t you mean sadist?

And BTW, I do see your point about arguing with her on her own terms.

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

yep. sadist.

T.J.
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Nice try Throbert, but if you are going to hold to the intelligent design argument (teleological evolution), then there had to be a purpose for it being put in that exact location. Tim is right. It would seem like God creating pizza in front of you while you’re on a strict diet, knowing it’s your favorite food, and then telling you not to eat it.

Also, the part that Throbert quotes, I don’t see that in the article. Is there something I’m not seeing? It appears I can’t view the whole thing??

Throbert McGee
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Now, of course, Maggie is directing this rant to women. So it has nothing, no nothing at all, nope not whatsoever, to do with her views about homosexuality.

I would point out that if Maggie had directed her criticism specifically to anal sex among male homosexuals, the automated, pull-the-string response from a considerable portion of the gay peanut gallery would be: “Oh, but heterosexuals have anal sex too! STRAIGHTS DO IT TOO!”

So she’s only taking the conversation on a preemptive detour, into the territory where gay audiences would have predictably diverted it anyway if she’d chosen to talk about gay male anal sex.

(In my opinion, gay people who say that “heterosexuals have anal sex too” are being a little dishonest; a far more accurate phrasing would be:

“Lots and lots of heterosexual men are fascinated by the idea of f*cking a woman in the butt, because it sounds a bit kinky and they’ve heard it’s REALLY TIGHT and anal sex has very few risks and drawbacks for the inserting male partner. Meanwhile, some heterosexual women do eventually get cajoled and wheedled into trying it, although they bear the brunt of the disadvantages.”)

Throbert McGee
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Nice try Throbert, but if you are going to hold to the intelligent design argument (teleological evolution), then there had to be a purpose for it being put in that exact location.

Well, if you insist on trying that ID angle, Ms. Gallagher could simply respond:

“If God had actually meant for men to stimulate each other’s prostates by f*cking, he would’ve given men a nice sturdy pseudo-vagina between their scrotum and their anus, thereby providing convenient access for internal prostate stimulation that avoided the messy and risky route of going in through the rectum.”

In other words, if you invoke “the providential placement of the prostate” in defense of anal sex, you should fully anticipate the question: “So then why didn’t Providence make bottoming a lot easier and more convenient than it actually is?”

Ben in Oakland
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Actually throbert, I recall a CDC statistic, but can’t find my source. About 40% of heteros have anal sex.

Throbert McGee
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

About 40% of heteros have anal sex.

40% “have” it, or 40% “have had” it?

Erin
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Yeah, and there are gay man who don’t have anal sex. The proportions for either group are irrelevant. It can be done and there are people who want to do it and like to do it.

jutta
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

> I’ve no doubt that Maggie Gallagher is sincere in her desire to stop all nonprocreative and nonmarital sex.

Kind of illogic on her part, isn’t if? After all, it was not *non*procreative sex that brought her into trouble.

> Meanwhile, some heterosexual women do eventually get cajoled and wheedled into trying it, although they bear the brunt of the disadvantages.

Actually some (many?) heterosexuel women enjoy it. I haven’t found statistics but I found a “poll” in a web-forum where young adults discuss their sexual experiences (when did you first …?). It’s in German, but not too difficult to understand, I guess http://www.xpbulletin.de/t26452-0.html
Google-translation: http://translate.google.at/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.xpbulletin.de%2Ft26452-0.html&sl=de&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

T.J.
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

“If God had actually meant for men to stimulate each other’s prostates by f*cking, he would’ve given men a nice sturdy pseudo-vagina between their scrotum and their anus, thereby providing convenient access for internal prostate stimulation that avoided the messy and risky route of going in through the rectum.”

This is an assumption for which you provide not one single supportive argument. Anal sex can by risky and messy, but it doesn’t HAVE to be. Besides, there is risk involved in not only all sexual behavior, but in all behavior whatever it is! Some people enjoy it and feel the “risk” is worth it. They take proper care of themselves and there is no problem. And I certainly hope you are not under the impression that heterosexual sex is not messy. A biology major friend of mine from the University of Chicago told me that prostate massage has been linked to a decrease in prostate cancer rates. It would seem that this “messy” route can have its benefits beyond mere pleasure of the participants. The final thing I’ll say is that the primary purpose of a penis and vagina is ALSO to act as an exit for excretions of the body, namely urine. This process happens tens of thousands of times more often in life than sexual intercourse and so would appear to be their primary function. A person won’t live long if they don’t urinate, yet some of those same people will live their whole lives and never have intercourse, so this point should be beyond debate. Thus, just because a particular organ or orifice doesn’t have something as it’s primary purpose (function), doesn’t mean it doesn’t have secondary or even tertiary purposes. Just because we use our mouths to eat doesn’t mean we can’t also use them to breathe or kiss or – get ready for this one – have oral sex! Look at that. Another orifice of the body used in sex which has as its primary purpose an alternative function. I rest my case.

Throbert McGee
January 28th, 2011 | LINK

Yeah, and there are gay man who don’t have anal sex.

No f*cking sh*t.

Wyzdyx
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

@T.J.

Women do not urinate from our vaginas. the urethra exits from another area of the vulva. The vagina (a.k.a. birth canal) is a separate area connecting the uterus to the outside world.

If I know the difference between a scrotum and a testicle, you could learn the difference between a vagina and a vulva.

Throbert McGee
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

If I know the difference between a scrotum and a testicle, you could learn the difference between a vagina and a vulva.

+1 Wyzdyx.

Ivan
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

As an aside, I understand from someone who works in a sex shop that the overwhelming majority of strap-ons are sold to heterosexual couples in order that the female can mount the male. Just thought you’d like to know that.

BlackDog
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

I think Maggie’s comments pretty accurately point out that she just doesn’t like sex, and is determined that nobody else should be getting any either.

Why does Christianity have these screwed up issues with sex? In what I’ve observed of other religions there isn’t that much hatred of sex.

Even in Islam, it is grounds for divorce if one partner can’t satisfy the other. An accusation of impotence is pretty much grounds for divorce in some places.

But yet I recall reading that at some points of Christianity’s history, sex WITHIN marriage was considered sinful.

Ted
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

Dear Maggie,
If it hurts you that much, STOP doing it!

RWG
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

@ Matt: I don’t know what is motivating you to act as an apologist for this purveyor of hate, but it is unfortunate and disturbing to see. Apparently, you came to your conclusions even before you read the article.

In any event, I totally disagree with your evaluation of her column. Maggie Gallagher is not interested in what may or may not be desirable for couple’s intimate moments. Her only interest is in attacking gay people and increasing animosity toward them. Her article is clearly intended to fortify negative ideas (don’t do THAT, that’s what the filthy queers do!)

If you think otherwise you’re deluding yourself.

Regan DuCasse
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

In forums like TownHall, or any other conservative site, ANY discussion on gay lives will inevitably lead to rants and lectures and Scripture quoting on gay sex.
The anti gays can’t seem to go without talking about it and what they think gay sex is and how gay people (especially gay men) are having it.

Indeed, THEY will bring up the subject over and over again. And no matter how much you want to stay on point about what equality is, the concern about bullying that leads to children committing suicide or the concerns that such hostility is THAT insidious…they KEEP coming back to the gay sex subject.

The obsession with that, or the threat to children and pedophile angle is such a preoccupation, you wonder if there is any way to have any OTHER kind of conversation about gay people with them.

And yet, they point the finger at gay people as being the ones obsessed with nothing but sex.

A person with a talent for analysis could easily glean that people like Maggie or their typical audience, apparently have excruciatingly boring sex lives. They are so repressed and lacking in creativity, that they have to focus on someone else that’s exotic to them.
Their virtual talking points is the light of day discussion they are comfortable with talking AT gay people about, but in their supposed polite conversations, they are above all that.

If you ever read “Black Like Me” or in my case (as a black woman), I’ve had this experience myself.
John Griffin, the reporter who wrote BLM learned that white men would treat black women with disdain in the light of day, but were preoccupied and curious about the sexual aspects of black women and what they were willing to do that their polite white women wouldn’t.
Some men have said nasty and sexually explicit things to me and objectified me as something beneath them sexually, but are curious about. They’d speak to me in ways they never would either to a white woman…or a man.

The import of that, which is contempt for me, has been hurtful, but men like that or certain people, will get defensive or deny what they are really doing to you.

This contempt is evident in Maggie’s essay, as it is in the comment threads and what prompts them.
The contempt for gay people’s sex lives is similar enough in what white racists thought of black sex lives…it reveals more deeply what blacks and gays have in common all over again.

What isn’t revealed or obvious in public, the opposition to equality will invoke what they think occurs behind closed doors…where proof and evidence are harder to reveal.
But where speculation and conjecture get outrageous free reign.

Gay folk’s privacy isn’t an option. Maggie’s essay allows an open door and window, and expectation of judgment, where she wouldn’t do such a thing, nor would her supporters, to STRAIGHT people.
Straight people’s privacy is sacrosanct, where gay folks aren’t supposed to have any.
Dissemination at it’s crudest and most dismissive level is fair game to speak regarding gay people.

And all the while, these are the same people who are disgusted that gay people don’t keep their sex lives behind those doors.
Well, if the Maggies of the world feel quite free to do it, and she gives her audience permission to do it too, then what choice do the gay folks have in this?

Gay folks still have to argue with straights on whether they choose to be gay or not.

So how does that gay give gay folks any options whatsoever?

Brian Brown just sent out a newsletter on his opinion about the film “The Kids Are Alright” and the accolades the Oscar nom gives it.
He’s never seen the movie (he admits), but he goes on a lengthy tear about how the children in the film need to have a father and that’s why there (he heard) there was a conflict. He goes on to talk about all the ills in society being created by childless fathers and the cause is same sex parenting.

Of course, missing the point of the movie (and it IS just a movie) doesn’t matter to people like him. HIS point is all that has to come across.

It doesn’t matter to him that REAL, not cinematic families like this, don’t have the sorts of conflicts that movies might.

But, I digress.

The speculation, and determination the anti gay have, to claim themselves ONLY truthful reporters on gay sex lives can only divert attention from the true and accurate goals of gay people. The fascination is so intense that anything that gay people point out honestly and forthrightly, is lost in that preoccupation.

Maggie is counting on that and unfortunately, it sure does work.

Anna
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

Ivan beat me to it, but I will chime in too, anyway.

Hetero anal sex is not a one way street, so characterizing it as something guys do to gals and gals suffer through is what’s dishonest.

Or Throbert McGee is just as clueless about what goes on in straight folks’ bedrooms as Maggie is about the variety of things that two ladies or fellas can get up to.

T.J.
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

Ivan and Anna: thank you for making those points. I made the same ones in another thread in which he brought up the same subject.

@Wyzdyx: Forgive me for my lack of specificity. I was actually referring to the vulva, but mistakenly believed it to be one part of the same organ, so I lumped them together. Thank you for pointing that out (I got D in high school biology so it’s amazing I was that close haha). However, despite my anatomical unspecificity, the point, which I noticed Thrombert did not engage for a red herring, still stands.

Priya Lynn
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

Don’t worry about it T.J. I once explained to a disbelieving 19 year old girlfriend that she didn’t urinate out her vagina. It took a mirror in the bathroom to convince her.

T.J.
January 29th, 2011 | LINK

Priya: LOL..that’s funny ;)

Throbert McGee
January 30th, 2011 | LINK

However, despite my anatomical unspecificity, the point, which I noticed Thrombert did not engage for a red herring, still stands.

What point was that?

If you mean “pee-holes are dirty too,” that line of attack isn’t going to work very well on me, since I accept that most forms of watersports/golden showers are completely harmless from a health and hygiene standpoint (I exclude the specific practice of peeing up someone’s butt, since by definition that crosses into “anal bareback” territory).

And frankly, I think the gay male community would be much better off from a health standpoint if anal sex were a comparatively rare and relatively taboo “kink,” while golden showers were widely practiced and “vanilla.”

(To be clear, I’m not saying that there are health advantages to the practice of watersports; I’m saying that even if this activity became vastly more commonplace than it is now, there wouldn’t be any detriment to our collective community health. In contrast, a significant drop in the popularity and frequency of anal sex among gay/bi men would mean fewer opportunities for guys to be talked into barebacking — and that would mean fewer instances of HIV transmission. Gay men who conceptualize anal sex as being something at least slightly kinky and not totally vanilla are going to be less easy “marks” for boyfriends and tricks who wheedle them into being unsafe “because it’s more intimate that way.”)

And suffice to say, I have no illusions that Maggie Gallagher would respect us more if the stereotype was that gay men went around peeing all over each other.

But I am arguing that to challenge the conventional gay wisdom about the vanilla-ness of anal sex, and its relative centrality in our erotic lives, is one of the most important grassroots things gay/bi men can do for ourselves to reduce HIV transmission among us.

Throbert McGee
January 30th, 2011 | LINK

Hetero anal sex is not a one way street, so characterizing it as something guys do to gals and gals suffer through is what’s dishonest.

This is true. I should have simply written, without specifying gender, that those who prefer not to take the “bottom” role in anal have less credibility when arguing in favor of anal sex generally, because of the significant risk-disparity for “tops” and “bottoms.”

(Of course, in the heterosexual context, men who like being penetrated by a strap-on can argue that the practice is safe and satisfying for them, but they still don’t have much business arguing that “if it’s good for me, my girlfriend/wife should also let me futtbuck her sometimes.” In this case, sauce for the gander isn’t necessarily sauce for the goose, since only the gander has a prostate.)

justsearching
January 30th, 2011 | LINK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=channel_page&v=x0wcL_mYpxw

Just for kicks, here’s a nutty woman who in the 90′s had a ministry that, among other things, exorcised the throats and genitals and anal cavities of those whose body parts had been possessed after contact with “ungodly semen.” Wonder what she’s up to these days.

Throbert McGee
January 30th, 2011 | LINK

@justsearching: This reminds me of a quote I’ve seen attributed to ’70s kook Anita Bryant, that “homosexuals are called fruits because they eat male sperm, which is the fruit of the tree of life.”

Allure
February 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Ms Gallagher will never have my respect for any number of reasons. However, forcible anal intercourse, as in rape, can most definitely cause severe, even life-threatening injuries, whether the victim is male or female, no matter what member or object does the penetration. Even if one is willing to give it a go, but is tense or fearful, penetration can be extremely painful and result in tearing. There are a number of medical/physical conditions that can make anal intercourse likewise painful and maybe damaging. So, her statements aren’t totally devoid of merit, but are warped and spun for her convenience. Many couples, mixed and same-sex, of course enjoy experimenting with anal intercourse, though recipients of the rhytmic pentration the vagina-anus-vagina-anus (as much fun as that’s supposed to be) can experience some nasty vaginal/urethral infections. (Ouch!) As an RN, I say have fun, but stay educated and watch out for those germs.

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