About Positions and Attitudes

The Mythology of Obesity tells us that sex with a fat partner is either fruitless or impossible. It's a prejudice that crosses all boundaries of race, class, education, and physique: you're as likely to encounter it in a gynecologist's office as in the pages of The National Lampoon.

In the real world, sex is more likely to be impeded by anxiety than adiposity. Fear of rejection, fear of not meeting the partner's expectations, and fear of not being able to perform are among the most common emotional barriers to intercourse. Some dysfunctional people harbor feelings of guilt over their sexual needs, or lack the skill or desire to stimulate their partner. Even mild anxiety can impede or disable sexual performance. Ignorance and inexperience contribute their own problems. "Frequently, for instance" reveals Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan in Psychology Today, "neither spouse knows where the clitoris is or recognizes its potential for eliciting erotic pleasure. They have intercourse as soon as the husband has an erection, and he ejaculates without considering whether his partner is ready. Such couples genuinely wonder why the wife does not reach orgasm."

Fat people suffer all these problems in spades. The social pressures they endure create numerous obstacles to sexual interaction. The most direct effect comes from dieting: prolonged semistarvation can seriously dampen the libido, and a woman who is losing weight can experience a disruption of her normal menstrual cycle. Indirect effects of prejudice include a lack of opportunity, a history of rejection, and a negative body image. "Some obese woman, fearful of competing for a man's interest, avoid interpersonal encounters and disparage males in general," writes Dr. Barbara E. Bess in the journal Consultant. "Once involved in a relationship, they doubt the partner's sincerity." Self-hatred manifests itself in a number of anti-erotic behaviors. "Some women are reluctant to act seductively for fear of rejection and ridicule. Young women ... express the desire to look 'sexy' and wear seductive clothes, but fear that men in particular will think them grotesque. ... Many obese persons attempt to hide their bodies under cover of darkness, or keep their clothes on during sexual intimacy."

Shelley Bovey found similar body- and self-image problems among fat women in Britain:

The concept of being sexually undesirable because of their weight figured strongly in the majority of the interviews I conducted with large women. Apart from agonizing experiences of rejection, I discovered a lowering of expectations. Women felt they were risking too much rejection by even contemplating a relationship with the sort of man they wanted. ... This is a circular situation which can only be broken by women acquiring self-esteem and confidence in their sexuality. While they are prepared to accept second best­p;whatever that may mean for them­p;those arrogant men who talked about going on 'mercy missions' will continue to claim their place in sexual politics. If women cannot believe they deserve more, then sex for them will be like 'squirting jam into a doughnut.' as Germaine Greer so graphically put it...

Fat men have even less opportunity for sexual interaction. "Despite changing social and sexual mores," notes Dr. Bess, "men still are presumed to be the sexual initiators, and such fat men are inhibited from approaching woman by the fear of rejection. This reticence can lead to social and sexual isolation." As for the FA, fear of rejection combined with a general fear of being labeled "different" may keep him out of the sexual arena for many years. Instead of going through the grope-and-fumble stage in adolescence, he has to do it as an adult. Thus, the average FA displays all the sophistication and tact of the Festrunk brothers.

Taken together, these social side-effects mean that the average fat man or woman tends to be somewhat sexually retarded, though perfectly capable of catching up with their thinner peers if the right situation presents itself. Dr. Bess marvels at the resiliency of fat women. Despite all the degradation and rejection they have suffered, she finds them "eager to enter into sexual relationships if initiated by men who are affirming, reassuring, and accepting." Most fat people, she finds, develop a normal sex life in spite of all society can do to prevent them. Among the more notable findings she culls from the recent literature are these:

But let us suppose that you've found the right partner and you've found the right attitude, but you just can't seem to find the right position. Even Dr. Bess isn't much help here. "Although very few such persons are unable to consummate the act," she writes, "this is sometimes the case, especially when both partners are massively obese. Having the less heavy partner assume the upper position facilitates intercourse for many such couples, but suitable positioning is an individual matter best worked out by the persons involved."

This is about as much useful advice as you're likely to get from even the most well-informed physician. What doctors don't know about fat people and sex could fill an encyclopedia. I testify from experience. It is frightening to be asked, by a man with eight diplomas on his wall, if you have ever "achieved penetration" with your wife.

In an effort to dispel such ignorance, I've undertaken an exhaustive search of the literature on fat sex. I find that those authorities who have taken the trouble to investigate the matter report that obesity is rarely, if ever, a barrier to intercourse. Fat is never stored in the penis, nor does it choke off access to the ovaries (as Hippocrates taught, and generations of physicians believed). In fact, the human body is remarkably well-designed for storing fat in large quantities. Mother Nature keeps fat away from the vital and sensory organs, away from the joints, and away from the genitals. "To put it bluntly and squarely, no woman is so fat that her vagina is inaccessible," states Marvin Grosswirth in Fat Pride, adding:

The only report I had of an unsuccessful attempt at intercourse came from one of my informants who went to bed with a man who was as fat as she was. "Our bellies got in the way," she said with a giggle, and then confessed that they had not really tried very hard. "The whole thing struck us both as kind of funny and we broke up. Of course, there went the whole ball game." This woman is inclined to believe, on the basis of her own single experience, that sex between two fat people is difficult if not impossible. But she did not attend the NAAFA meeting at which my wife and I met a charming couple and their beautiful year-old daughter. Both the man and his wife weighed easily in excess of 300 pounds.

Mr. Grosswirth did pause to wonder if a woman of 700 pounds might have difficulty with intercourse. He had apparently missed an item in the New York Times, datelined March 28, 1936. It seems that Mrs. Gertrude Karns gave birth that day to a healthy 9-pound 3-ounce baby girl at a hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. The new mother weighed 745 pounds. The icing on the cake is that the father, Cliff Karns, weighed a hefty 304.

The Karns, alas, did not leave us a manual to quote from (or even a set of diagrams). But several other authorities on sex (self-proclaimed and otherwise) have addressed the matter of obesity and intercourse. A few betrayed a vested interest in finding that fat sex is uncommon or unpleasant, and their comments have been omitted. The rest are quoted liberally below.


Commonly known as the "missionary position," or, in George Carlin's phrase, "good old American man-on-top-get-it-over-with-quick." Authoritative medical opinion since the time of Hippocrates has written off this arrangement for fat people. Many authorities still hold the notion that a fat man simply cannot perform in the dominant position. "If he has a belly," writes Alex Comfort, "... he won't be able to come on top, and will quite often prefer to avoid male-active positions because of breathlessness." As for a fat woman, John F. Oliver's authoritative textbook Clinical Sexuality states that "Marked obesity of the wife, especially of the thighs, pelvic girdle and abdomen, can make intercourse in the standard position well-nigh impossible. Even moderate stoutness, if it involves thick labia majora and a prominent mons, can keep the male organ from penetrating to a satisfactory depth."

So much for authority. Those with practical experience in the matter adamantly disagree. Conventional sex is rarely impeded by any degree of fatness: experimentation and a few minor adjustments are all that the average fat couple require. Most would find it harder to program a new VCR.

When the woman is fat, Abraham Friedman recommends that she lie on her back, "her legs bent at the hips, her thighs open as wide as possible, and her knees fully bent, thus completely exposing her vulva and vagina." If she has a big tummy, she can lift it away from her pubic region with both hands, at least until the man gets himself positioned between her thighs. If penetration is still difficult, it can help to put one or more pillows under her buttocks. "Considerable variety is available to you through the simple expediency of changing the position of your legs," writes Marvin Grosswirth. "If you use a pillow, your vagina becomes elevated and entry is easier. If you use two pillows, entry will not only be easy, it will be different. If you raise your legs to a certain height, the angle of penetration and the points of friction will be different than if you raise your legs to another height, or if you do not raise them at all. You would be amazed at the variations three inches up or down can create."

However tempting it may be to lie atop that heavenly pillow of female flesh, when the woman is fat it makes more sense for the man to sit back on his haunches during intercourse. (Where you choose to lie afterwards is up to you.) You might call it "male upright" rather than "male dominant." This has the added advantage of freeing the man's hands­p;and with both hands free, a woman's tummy becomes a plaything rather than a hindrance.

"There are only a few basic rules for a fat man to remember in the male-dominant position," advises Grosswirth. "First, raise your body high enough­p;or lift your abdomen with your hands, if necessary­p;so that your partner can guide the penis to its destination. This will be a little easier if the woman places a pillow beneath her buttocks. ... Second, never drop your full weight on your partner. Prop yourself up with your hands rather than your elbows, and lower yourself gradually. At the first indication that your weight is uncomfortable for her, raise yourself again. (Be prepared for a surprise: most women, even the smallest and most fragile-looking, can support a good deal more weight than you would suppose.) That is all."

In fact, a fat man should be prepared to find that his weight adds to his partner's pleasure. "The stimulating aspect of a fat man is manifested in the way he uses his weight to apply intense titillating pressure on the woman's genital area," writes Lisa Davis. "What with the physical power of most men, physical weight is not a necessity for a man to make his presence felt, but it can be an advantage. I first learned this with my lover Donald. When we made love, he would center much of his weight over and around my clitoris and gently rock back and forth, stimulating me to long, ecstatic climaxes."

Drawbacks to this position are usually pulmonary. A fat woman may find it difficult to breathe while lying flat on her back, and a fat man my find it difficult to catch his breath while doing the work of lovemaking for an extended period of time. In such cases, a couple can follow the same "stop-and-start" method advised for men with premature ejaculation problems. The man first stimulates the woman to orgasm without intercourse. The couple then has intercourse in the female-dominant position, and finally in the male-dominant position. As this last is usually the most stimulating position for the male, he is likely to finish before either partner runs out of air.


This position comes highly recommended, both by those who write about sex with a fat partner and those who have experienced it. "The female-dominant position is especially useful for very fat men, or where both partners are fat" advises Marvin Grosswirth. "Among its many benefits is the ease with which it permits touching, stroking, and caressing of almost the entire body." Dr Friedman concurs. "In this position, which seems to be the best," he writes, "the man lies on his back, with his legs straight, or knees slightly bent. If there is much abdominal fat, he can lift it up with both hands, as the woman straddles over him with her knees bent, facing him. She can thus easily slide his erect penis into her vagina and start her pelvic thrusts either alone or in conjunction with his."

Many writers, and many Hustler cartoons, make the point that a fat woman should avoid this position, for fear of injuring her partner. As with any such assumption, it's best not to judge the case without a trial. I have had incredible sex with a 500-pound woman sitting atop my pelvis, her belly tucked up to my chin like a comforter. It didn't last long, and it required a good store of oxygen, but it was incredible. It was never painful, and it always provided mutual satisfaction.
Writer Jack Jardine interviewed several fat women on their sexual technique for Penthouse Variations, and found one who was particularly outspoken on the subject. Adrena (he tells us) says she loves being on top, "because I'm more in control and can get penetrated deeper this way. Since my hips are wide and I've got so much belly I've noticed that sometimes it's real hard for the guy to penetrate me completely so I'll take my hand down there and help him, maybe extend my vagina with my fingers and make sure he gets everything in there. When I'm on top I can reach around from the rear and make sure the cock goes all the way in. That little hand motion helps when you're a big lady."


When both partners have particularly large tummies, the dominant woman can face her partner's feet. "In this variation of the above position," writes Dr. Friedman, "the man lies on his back and the woman straddles him with her back facing his front. She then inserts his penis into her vagina from the rear. ... Here, too, the partners' abdomens do not come in contact with each other, thus enabling satisfactory sexual intercourse." The problem here is that the woman may have to stay in a crouching posture for quite some minutes before the man adjusts himself to the angle of penetration. "Push his belly up before you sit completely," adds Screw magazine; "then he can rest it up against your ass."


Impolitely known as "doggie style," this position has long been advocated as the best for fat couples. "Given an obese man and a woman likewise obese or with child, how are they to do the thing otherwise?" asked 18th-Century German pornographer Friedrich Karl Forsberg. Rear entry is not without its drawbacks, however. If the man's penis is particularly short, or if the woman's internal anatomy is positioned at an unusual angle, it may be literally impossible for a couple to copulate from the rear. It can also be hard on a fat woman's knees.

Nevertheless, many couples swear by it, and the size of a woman's buttocks and thighs doesn't seem to affect the matter. Both Alex Comfort and Abraham Friedman recommend it. Dr. Friedman describes it thusly: "the woman kneels on the bed with her legs slightly apart, and lowers her chest so that her behind is elevated. By kneeling behind her, and holding his stomach up with his hand at the same time, the man can readily insert his penis from the rear. He can also rest his abdomen on the woman's buttocks to make it easier for him to continue his sexual thrusts throughout intercourse."


This position, named after a famous surgeon-gynecologist, is a modified rear-entry position, recommended by Dr. Friedman for instances where the woman is obese and the man is not. The woman begins by lying on one side. Then, the doctor informs us, "she draws her upper leg all the way up (toward her head) so that the knee of the upper leg is opposite the hip of her lower leg. This position makes her vagina readily accessible from slightly above and behind. The man kneels behind her, with one knee on each side of her straight leg, and makes entry from the rear at a slight sideward angle. If necessary, he can raise his body slightly by means of a pillow below each knee."
Frankly, I think this just makes the whole process unnecessarily complex, and it seems to me that a woman would need ballet training before she could lift her knee to the desired height, even assuming that other parts of her anatomy didn't get in the way. Nevertheless, this is just a personal prejudice. I can't speak from experience.


crew magazine offers this approach for a fat couple: "Lying down on your side, turn yourself around so that your partner's head is at your feet, and vice versa. Then shift slowly until your genitals are aligned. This way, you can completely avoid belly-to-belly contact."


"One of the most effective positions is the 'T-square' technique," suggests David Reuben. "The woman is in the usual position on her back with her legs spread wide apart. Her partner lies with his hips under the arch formed by her raised legs. With both abdomens safely out of the way, penis and vagina have a clear field for fun."


A modified T-square, the X position is another form of acrobatic copulation recommended by Dr. Friedman. "Here, too, the woman lies on her back with her legs bent at the hips and her thighs spread as wide as possible. After the penis is inserted into the vagina, the woman then brings both legs together, while the man swings his body in either direction 45 degrees, thus forming a large X. The woman should contract the muscles of her vagina during this maneuver to avoid the possibility of the penis slipping out. In this position, the partners' abdomens are not in juxtaposition, but sufficiently removed from each other to permit proper sexual thrusting and satisfactory consummation of the sex act."


Sometimes a fat couple needs to copulate at a greater-than ninety degree angle in order to keep their abdomens out of the way. "In these cases," states Oliver's Clinical Sexuality, "an alternative position such as the woman semi-reclining across the edge of a low bed or a padded table, two chairs supporting the feet, and the man kneeling or standing in front of her, recommends itself." Alex Comfort concurs. "If approach is tricky," he writes, "she can lie face up over the edge of the bed and he can stand or kneel."

Dr. Friedman gives a different set of blueprints for when the man is fat and the woman isn't. "In this position," he writes, "the man lies face up over the edge of the bed with his legs together and his feet touching the floor. I would suggest that he place a pillow under the small of his back for support. The woman then stands astride him close to the edge of the bed, and thus is able to make contact with his erect penis." Either way, with one partner standing and the other lying over the edge of the bed, the standing partner has a lot of options for adjusting the angle of approach. The more furniture, the more options.

Rear entry is often facilitated when both partners are standing (the woman can rest her arms and/or torso on the bed). "One guy told me he loved to enter his wife who is big and fat by having her stand up and put one leg up," noted Jack Jardine's Adrena. "I've tried that, and it works pretty well."


Oral sex can be tremendously fulfilling if you enjoy it, tremendously demeaning if you don't. The stereotypical view of fat women holds that they enjoy all oral activities. "The plump woman will often be adroit at oral sex because she is generally expert at other oral pursuits," suggests Eugene Schaimann. "She is usually a warm person who enjoys conversation. She is a healthy eater who loves food. Using her mouth to express herself is a thing that almost seems to come naturally to her." Porn publisher Al Goldsten has different ideas. "The fatty's expertise in oral sex," he writes, " ... comes from her own desexualization. She would rather give because she does not feel herself worthy to receive."

Shelley Bovey might agree. After interviewing woman at a gathering of fat feminists, she concluded that lesbian sex could be as demeaning to fat women as the heterosexual variety. "In lesbian lovemaking there are elements of activity and passivity; there is making love and being made love to," she writes. "And the women who felt bad about their fat bodies found themselves in the age-old female place of being the giver­p;they could make love to their partner, but could not easily accept being made love to, in case they repelled their partner, or from a conviction that it must be revolting to make love to their fat bodies. So they were constantly giving, and constantly deprived. It was clear that where lesbianism is a part of feminism, then feminists have let their sisters down badly."
Sex should be a meeting of equals, not a game of conquest and plunder. Oral sex, like any other sexual act-including the sharing of food-should be an occasion for mutual pleasure, not a means of establishing dominance. So long as that caveat is kept in mind, there can be nothing more pleasurable and natural. Positioning is not generally a problem in oral sex, though I am reminded of a cartoon in which a fat couple is advised by a sex therapist that "you can do six, and you can do nine, but 69 is pretty much out of the question." It might also help to avoid a partner with claustrophobic tendencies.


Screw magazine facetiously recommends that a fat couple call upon friends and family to assist them in achieving intercourse. Failing that, the author suggests that the woman wear a sexy corset. King Edward VII used an adjustable bed (built rather like an examining table) in order to find the best sexual positions to accommodate his own bulk and that of his partners. (Edward, a born FA, also had a chair that doubled as a set of scales. He liked to weigh his guests twice: once when they arrived, and once again just before they left, to see how many pounds he'd added in the meantime.) A certain enormous and libidinous 17th-century Cardinal is famous for having installed a system of slings and pulleys over his bed so that he could enjoy near-weightless sex with a young mistress. The possibilities appear limited only by one's imagination, one's budget, and one's sense of modesty.


That may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn't. One can do amazing things with a properly trained set of fingers. A fat woman's body also provides opportunities for pleasure that a thin woman's body cannot. Some men swear that the sensation of having the penis fondled by a woman's cleavage is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Fat women have cleavage everywhere.

There are other forms of intercourse between men and women: talking, laughing, touching, reading the Sunday paper together, watching a favorite movie on late night TV, or driving to the airport together just to watch the planes take off. Sometimes the feelings you get from just being close to someone are as good or better than any feelings you can get from intercourse itself. It may not be sex, but it sure is making love. ß

Dr. Katzenklutter is better known to Dimensions readers by another equally preposterous name.

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