So… What Is Tossing Salad? The Pressing Question From Yes, God, Yes, Answered

Elizabeth Gulino

Coming of age movies are a great resource when learning about the ins and outs of growing up — especially Natalia Dyer’s new film, Yes, God, Yes. But besides teaching us about how sex and shame intertwine when you’re a religious teen in Iowa, this movie also gives us a lesson on sexual slang. In particular, what it means to “toss someone’s salad.”

Throughout the film, Dyer’s character, Alice, is plagued by a persistent rumor she had “tossed someone’s salad.” She has no idea what this means. It takes a wise patron (played by Susan Blackwell) of a bar Alice stumbles into to enlighten the teen.

Dyer herself wasn’t sure what it meant to toss someone’s salad. “It was one of those things where I was like… I think I know what that means?” she told Refinery29 in a conversation in June. “That was not a term that was — ha — tossed around. That wasn’t the dig, that wasn’t the funny thing. I didn’t grow up with that term.”

We’ll play the role of Blackwell for any readers who are still scratching their heads: To toss someone’s salad is to perform oral sex on someone’s anus. It’s also called rimming or anilingus. “The term tossing salad isn’t very intuitive, in my opinion,” reassures Shelby Devlin, a sex and intimacy coach. The origins of the term are unclear, but Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer and author of The F-Word, told Vice that its first known use in print appears in an early 1970s gay-slang glossary.

“You can think of it just as traditional oral sex, but just on the back end,” Devlin elaborates. “You can use your tongue, but you can also use your fingers [to stimulate the anus], you can use lube, you can use toys, you can just stay on the outside or penetrate with your tongue. There’s a whole variety of moves you can do.”

While “tossing someone’s salad” may sometimes be the butt (har har) of adolescent jokes, it’s actually an extremely pleasurable experience, thanks to all the nerves that are nestled between your cheeks. “It feels really, really good,” Devlin says, “And that’s why people like to do it. The pleasure of receiving anilingus is worth noting.”

If you’re interested in tossing someone’s salad, or maybe having someone toss your own, “you should discuss it with your partner to make sure that everyone is comfortable first,” Mia Sabat, in-house sex therapist at Emjoy, a sexual wellbeing audio app, tells Refinery29. “Consent is vital, especially when you’re pursuing something new, so be clear about what’s on offer, and what’s not, before experimenting.”

If you and your partner are both on board, Devlin suggests starting by taking a shower together. It’s intimate, and, “It could help soothe any anxiety about someone’s body not being totally clean,” she explains. About that: Hygiene is key in anal play. You should wash thoroughly before getting busy. It’s also a great idea to use a dental dam to be extra safe.

You may want to avoid participating in salad tossing after a large meal. “If your belly is full, that can produce gas or movement in your digestive track,” Devlin says. That may not be ideal when your partner is face-to-face with your anus.

Getting your salad tossed is a pretty pleasurable experience, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy anal sex that doesn’t include any tongues. Just be open with your partner, and sit back and let the magic happen.

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