A GP, let’s call her Sue, said: “I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.” In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”
Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn’t confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress. When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience, but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew that it hurt.
There was stunned silence among the mothers around that dinner table, although I think some of us may have let out involuntary cries of dismay and disbelief.
For Sue’s surgery isn’t in some inner-city borough where kids may have been brutalised or come from cultures where such practices are commonly used as contraception. Sue works in the leafy heart of Hampshire. The girls presenting with incontinence were often under the age of consent and from loving, stable homes.
[More] than four in 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in England say they have been coerced into sex acts, according to one of the largest European polls on teenage sexual experience. Recent research by the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire found that a fifth of girls had suffered violence or intimidation from their teenage boyfriends, a high proportion of whom regularly viewed pornography, with one in five boys harbouring “extremely negative attitides towards women”.
The end result is what Sue sees in her work as a GP. Young girls – children, really – who abase themselves to pass for normal in a grim, pornified culture. Another study of British teenagers found that most youngsters’ first experience of anal sex occurred within a relationship, but it was “rarely under circumstances of mutual exploration of sexual pleasure”. Instead, it was boys who pushed the girls to try it, with boys reporting that they felt “expected” to take that role.
Moreover, both genders expected males to find pleasure in the act whereas females were mostly expected to “endure the negative aspects such as pain or a damaged reputation”.
PS: I just texted my own teenager for her view. She texted back: “A lot of truth to this. I think dubious consent is the greatest problem of my generation.”