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Fat sex

June 16, 2010

Scientists say being fat can be bad for the bedroom, especially if you’re a woman.

I didn’t even have to read on to know that this article would be full of fail. Let’s take a looksee.

Obese women were 30 percent less likely than normal-weight women to have had a sexual partner in the last year. In comparison, there was little difference among obese men and normal-weight men as to whether they found a sexual partner.

And obviously the problem here is obesity, and not unreasonable expectations of what women’s bodies “should” look like.

“Maybe women are more tolerant of tubby husbands than men are of tubby wives,” said Kaye Wellings, a professor of sexual and reproductive health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and one of the BMJ study authors.

“Tubby” is an actual thing said by an actual person who was put in charge of doing apparently actual Science!. “Tubby.” Because when you’re describing any population in a way that has consequences for their health, you should probably just call them whatever the marginalizing fuck you want, no?

Dr. Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, a specialist in psychosexual medicine at a London sexual health clinic, said physicians must talk to obese women about birth control.

“Doctors need to get over their own embarrassment and ask the difficult questions,” she said.

And what “difficult questions” would those be? I am a fat woman, and here is a conversation I had once with my gynecologist.

GYNECOLOGIST. Would you like to use birth control?
JILL. Yes.

It was not difficult. What is this, fourth grade?

Wellings and colleagues found obese men and women with a partner were no different from normal-weight people in terms of how often they had sex.

How about that! But…

[Dr. Andrew McCullough, an associate professor of clinical urology at New York University] said the study’s findings should provide another reason for people to trim their waistlines.

“It seems like a no-brainer,” he said. “If you lose weight, you will feel more attractive and that could improve your sex life.”

Or, you could just straight up die.

Here is a better idea. How about instead of shaming fat people about their bodies, treating fat bodies as though they are disgusting and worthless, and normalizing the idea that fat people can never be desirable, we encourage all people to care for their bodies and feel respected and worthy of respect. How about we recognize that not everyone is attracted to the same kinds of bodies, and that the worth of a body is not measured in proximity to a cultural ideal of beauty or health.

Let me just give you Scientists! some insight from personal experience. You know what really kills your desire to seek out romantic partners? Feeling like you have to walk around all day with your head down because no one could ever possibly think your body was anything but disgusting. You know what really kills your sex drive? Assumptions like this, that bodies like mine are themselves an impediment to our sex lives. And you know what contributes to these feelings of worthlessness, of hideousness, of desirelessness? You know what makes women with bodies like mine not seek out reproductive health care? You know what makes women with bodies like mine avoid the gaze of others, not bother talking to people they are interested in dating or having sex with, not respond when people flirt with us, internalize maltreatment and treat themselves like they deserve it?

Here is a hint. It’s not the fat. It’s you, and your belief that “feeling more attractive,” feeling that our bodies are worthy of care, pleasure and respect, is an attribute only attainable by thin(ner) women.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. silentbeep permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:20 AM

    Preach it sister! This.

  2. Piffle permalink
    June 17, 2010 9:53 AM

    Absolutely! It was ridiculous that they pinpointed the problem exactly as poor body image, then instead of encouraging better body images went for the failed idea of weight loss. Infuriating.

  3. Lisa permalink
    June 17, 2010 4:41 PM

    Is it somehow a more “difficult” question to ask fat women about birth control?

    Hmm…Let’s pretend for a minute that I’m a (truly awful) medical professional. I’m going to assume that this here fatty doesn’t have sex (because she’s hideously ugly [because fat=ugly]), so I won’t even bring up birth control because she doesn’t need it. And if I brought it up and she said yes, then I would have to imagine that a FAT WOMAN actually HAD SEX. And we all know how gross that would be. I would probably need eye bleach just to get the images out of my mind.

    Um, what?

  4. Lizzie permalink
    June 18, 2010 2:10 AM

    I’m actually not surprised this came out of England. After spending three months there, I have found them working more against the feminist/body positive agenda than people in the United States. Blatant sexism is pretty cool there.

    Consider, for example, the Sunday Times regular feature “The Trouble with Women” (Um, who asked you?)

    Or the article I recently read in British Glamour that told me I should bake cupcakes and see Sex and the City 2 so I don’t get horribly bored while all the boys watch the World Cup. Yeah, couldn’t have thought of that myself.

    • Jill permalink
      June 18, 2010 11:23 AM

      Lizzie–Thanks for the context. Did you notice how the “obesity crisis” played out/was talked about while you were there?

  5. cellardoor10 permalink
    June 19, 2010 2:18 AM

    I have a confession:

    I LIKE TUBBY/FAT/WHATEVER-STUPID-NAME-YOU-WANNA-GIVE-IT WOMEN!! I like them BETTER than “traditionally beautiful” aka “thin and blonde” women. Traditionally beautiful women totally have their merits, and kudos to them and their lovers. But seriously. Larger women. Beautiful. I’m sick of people thinking that’s weird, or not understanding how I could *ever* find them attractive, except for the fact that I fall into that category myself.

    Ok, done. But seriously, this article is crap. Way to go Science! Also, the birth control thing is really dumb. As a doctor, they really shouldn’t care what you look like, just your health.

  6. July 6, 2010 12:56 AM

    @Lizzie
    I have found them working more against the feminist/body positive agenda than people in the United States.

    NoooOOOOoooo…. as a USian I was at least taking comfort in the fact that our country had the best levels of Asshattery regarding the “obesity crisis” (also: “ZOMG FATTY RAMPAGE!!11!”). I’ve also seen some great feminism/body image stuff come out of the UK (and AU). Sad to hear they’re catching our own fatphobia (or have developed their own strain).

    This article though is brilliant. Thank you, Jill.

    “Tubby” is an actual thing said by an actual person who was put in charge of doing apparently actual Science! “Tubby.” Because when you’re describing any population in a way that has consequences for their health, you should probably just call them whatever the marginalizing fuck you want, no?

    *LOLsob*

  7. September 28, 2010 12:31 PM

    LOVE.

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