How to Do It

My Girlfriend and I Can’t Help but Notice the Rise of a Certain Act in Adult Videos

Are we crazy to try it?

Man and woman having sex to fireworks.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Dear How to Do It,

My girlfriend and I have noticed that there’s more and more “ass to pussy” in mainstream porn. We’d like to try it, but we’ve always been told how unsafe it is. How do the women who do it in porn do it? Do they gobble antibiotics? Do they have secrets for cleaning out really well? Do they just suffer with infections for the sake of a paycheck? Or is it not really as unsafe as we’re told?

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—A2P

Dear A2P,

I don’t think the best question here is how adult performers with vaginas mitigate the risks of transferring anal bacteria to those vaginas. Everyone has their own tricks and tips. Many of these methods are medically unsound. Adult is pretty crucial to the adult film industry—there are mountains of paperwork to prove that everyone is of age—so performers are considered able to weigh the risks, the financial pressures, and their own boundaries to make their own decisions. Much like you and your girlfriend.

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Dr. Stacy De-Lin, the associate medical director at Planned Parenthood, has the answer to your last and most relevant question: “Unfortunately, transitioning from anal penetrative sex directly to vaginal penetrative sex can lead to vaginal infections. It’s important to understand that while the vagina has lots of bacteria, the GI tract has much more bacteria and different bacteria that shouldn’t be present in the vagina, and this can lead to infections in the vagina that can be difficult to treat.” The risks are significant: “In worst case scenarios, an infection of this time can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which is when a vaginal infection progresses to the uterus or fallopian tubes.” Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause permanent damage, including fertility problems.

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There are some ways you can mitigate this, but most aren’t all that helpful. “Things like anal douching before anal sex or washing fingers, toys, or penis after anal sex can reduce this risk, and help might avoid an infection every time, but the infection risk is still high,” De-Lin said. Since I expect the lure of something risky, or forbidden, or whatever it is that interests you about inserting your penis into your girlfriend’s vagina directly after being in her asshole, is strong enough for you to write in, I’m hoping De-Lin’s last suggestion will suffice: “The best bet is to use a new condom when transitioning from anal to vaginal sex, or make sure that the progression is from vaginal to anal instead.”

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Dear How to Do It,

My question is more of a regular relationship problem with a sex industry twist, I suppose. I’m a 35-year-old woman and my partner (a man in his 40s) have been together a while and are now trying to have a baby. I work as a lawyer at a boring 9-5 job. He works as an escort for a mostly male clientele. Needless to say, our daily schedules are different. During lockdown and soon after, my schedule was more flexible, and the relationship was great. That is when we made the baby decision. Since I have had to go back to the office, we are constantly fighting over communication and schedules.

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I understand his industry isn’t exactly predictable. But it feels to me as if I am not put first. He will take a job and not tell me, and not reply to messages for hours, missing a dinner reservation for example (on my birthday). He will go missing for hours, saying, “Well, I had that job with this regular, then other regular called, then I was fielding messages from weirdos all evening and had no time to message you.” Meanwhile, I sit home wasting my time, not going anywhere or doing anything. The phone, his professional lifeline, is in the man’s hand 24/7, even during jobs and in the shower. There is no way he does not see my messages. Sometimes the only info I have on where he could be is his Grindr.

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How do I communicate to him more effectively to get a change in behavior? How else besides saying “your actions make me feel unimportant” should I approach this?

—Escort’s Girl

Dear Escort’s Girl,

When you say “together for a while,” is that around the span of the COVID pandemic? Or were you dating before it started? I ask, because if this is a pandemic-only romance, it seems likely that your regular lives are incompatible. If you’ve been dating for longer, you might think back on whether these communication issues were there before the world shut down. If they were, again, incompatible lives.

You may not be able to get the change in behavior that you hope for, no matter how effectively you choose your words and express yourself. Communication requires that the other party also receive the message. Since this is quite clearly not the case with your text messages, time and time again, I think it would be prudent to prepare for the possibility that he’ll hear your hurt and needs as something more like the sound adults make in Peanuts cartoons than any information to take action on.

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He’s giving you the signs already. I don’t know if this is true for you specifically, but I do know that birthdays are pretty important to the majority of the population. So, unless you’re an exception, that’s a pretty big event to miss. That says something. All of his behavior says something. Try “When you’re late on my birthday, I feel unimportant.” You can also consider “There’s a pattern of your work being higher priority than I am, and I’m frustrated and upset by this.”

Before you have this conversation, think long and hard about what you’re willing to accept. Especially in the context of wanting to have a child together. How involved do you think your partner would be in parenting? How reliably do you think he would respond to text messages or calls from a caregiver or school? Based on what you’ve told me, I have strong doubts that the responsibilities would be divided reasonably. It’s your choice, and I want you to make it wisely.

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Dear How to Do it,

One of my long-term play partners (white man, this is relevant) has invited me (white woman) to a group sex scenario. He has two other women lined up, another possible, and asked if I’d like to invite another guy friend because the few he knew can’t make it. I suggested another regular play partner who also likes groups, who is Black. Apparently one of the other woman is in an ethically non-monogamous marriage and her husband has requested that she not sleep with Black guys. Apparently this is a no-go for the other woman too. I feel icky about sleeping with them now. Should I?

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—Fourth

Dear Fourth,

You feel icky. You shouldn’t sleep with these people. It’s that simple.

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Dear How to Do It,

I was watching an episode of Karley Sciortino’s Slutever show on Vice when she proclaimed that, “…for some reason, some men seem to find it hard to make a woman come.” I was struck by the terminology “make a woman come” as being inappropriate. The phrase assigns all of the responsibility for a female orgasm on men’s skill in bed. I’m a straight male who’s been with women who find it easy to orgasm, and with women for whom orgasm without a vibrator as a part of the experience is nearly impossible, and many different degrees of sensitivity in-between. My experience leads me to object to this phrase as an anachronism from a more sexist era. The concept of “making a woman come denies women agency over (and some of the responsibility for) their own sexual enjoyment. The phrase  alsoseems anti-feminist in that it assumes that all of the work of producing sexual enjoyment for women is a man’s responsibility, and that women should simply be recipients (for better or worse) of the man’s sexual labor, and denies the fact that a woman’s role is equally important. Further, a romantic would argue that the phrase makes sex too goal-oriented (even though we would all agree that everyone should enjoy the benefits of orgasms if they want them).

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Setting aside the very real concern that different lovers bring different levels of engagement, intimacy, and enthusiasm to sexual experiences, do you agree with my reasoning, and do you feel that there is a suitable replacement for the concept of “making a woman come” in conversations about sex?

—It Takes Two

Dear It Takes Two,

I think your reasoning is simplistic and narrow. The language we have to describe sex in English is incredibly euphemistic and unclear, especially when we’re dealing with style guides that discourage the use of words like fuck to describe sex, as Slate does. On OnlyFans, for example, the word “cervix” is banned. Auto-captions struggle with words that have to do with sexuality and gender on YouTube, Zoom, and Instagram. Most of us are talking around uneven degrees of censorship of sexual language on different platforms. I only know the language I’ve been unable to use at various publications and on various sites, and have no insight into VICE’s TV rules. Don’t ride Karley’s bumper for using the words most people understand, on a platform as large as VICE. Sciortino and I are both speaking to an audience that includes people who use “down there” to describe their genitals. Give us all a break.

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I guess there are options: “Give a woman an orgasm”? “Help a lady out”? How about “rub sticks together until their insides burst into glorious flames”? “Contribute to the achievement of climax”? It’s all awful, and we’re doing the best we can. Maybe some of my suggestions feel better for you to use in your own sexual interactions, and maybe you can come up with some more yourself.

As for anti-feminist, what kind of feminism are you talking about? The sex-positive flavor that we’re now critiquing? How about the feminists who consider nearly all sex with men to be nonconsensual? Feminism is a lot more than pointing at a woman who used language that you as a straight man find unacceptable.

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You can turn this around—do you find it offensive and anachronistic when a woman offers to “make you come”? If your answer is genuinely yes, you can use this language as a warning sign that the person you’re speaking with isn’t a sexual match for you. Leave them to go on their way and find people who want to play with “making,” while you go yours and find people who want to create collaborative coming.

More How to Do It

My husband just came clean that he’s been stealing my family and friend’s panties for years. We have been together for three decades. I have no idea what to do.

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