Let's reference Salt-n-Pepa, bay-bee.

I've been wanting to talk about fat and sexuality for a while now. The Rotund beat me to it and forced my hand to finally comment on the issue. Its a pretty broad topic (pun intended), so this might just be the start of a series. Be warned.

Its an important topic, though, because sex and the fat body is a vital subject not explored nearly enough while its one of the things we very explicitly deny fat people in our culture. Obviously its okay for a fat person to not be interested in sex for their own reasons. But our society denies fat people the choice. The idea of fat people as sexual beings is treated as an absurdity. The tricky thing is that its a lot easier to recognize that this is bullshit than it is to fully reclaim what gets lost.

Which isn't to say that its easy to reclaim one's sexuality as a fat person. Getting to the point of being comfortable with one's body and with another person's desire for your body is already a huge step in our culture. But the structural denial of fat sexuality means many of us lack a lot of basic vocabulary about understanding our bodies in a sexual context. I think our culture romanticizes the idea of sex as a discovery or revelation that we take for granted just how much assumed knowledge there is about the sexual experience. But all that knowledge presumes two thin bodies and that knowledge just doesn't reliably transfer to fat bodies.

Some does. For some fat people, actually a lot might. But for others there will be extremely little relevance. The truth that fat sexuality reveals is that bodies can be different and this can make a difference. I know this may seem obvious, but think of how most people relate to sex through pornography where the physical deviations are generally extraordinarily small. In the real world, though, bodies are wonderfully unique and varied.

This becomes a real problem because of the way our culture stigmatizes deviations from the "norm". Its not just about fat, of course. Anything outside of an arbitrary "normal" tends to be defined by its limitations. I think the conversation about fat sexuality needs to be about moving past this and into the possibilities of our bodies. A fat body can be very different from a thin body, especially in a sexual context. Not every position will "work". That can even be true for the same person with the same body depending on their partners. But these things shouldn't be seen as limitations, I think. Body diversity makes sexuality more genuinely a discovery because so much focus needs to be on what our bodies can do. But that requires us to start a new conversation instead of defining us by old standards of what we can't do.

This isn't easy. It requires a lot of trust and communication which aren't always well associated with sex for many people. But opening up the conversation allows us to explore our sexuality in a lot of the ways thin people take it for granted. Learning our sexual vocabulary is very much an act of empowerment and a response to oppression.

So, what does this mean? Well, a lot of is just talking about the basic mechanics. Sexual positions are a rich area of discussion because I think fat people need to draw from a rich palette to find out what works with any two bodies. Weight, height, shape, size, these all make each sexual partnership fundamentally different and unique. Positions that worked with one person, might not with another. I'll cop to have a go-to favorite, but I don't take it for granted, either. You need to explore what works for the unique scenario of any given pair of bodies.

Another thing is what does sexual desire mean to us and for us. This is something I've wanted to get into for a while from the perspective of a "Fat Admirer". I really feel like this isn't just a preference but very much a part of my sexual identity. What does that mean for my sexuality? What does it mean for the fat people I find attractive? What does it mean for myself as a fat person? What does it mean for how I perceive others with like interests? What does it mean growing up feeling this way and having it shape my sexuality? Its a pretty huge topic but I hope to get into some aspects of it moving forward as I think there really is a lot to talk about there and I think its something that doesn't get talked about enough. At least not in a serious and considered manner.

So, that's probably enough talking about sex for one night. Please dive in with your thoughts and follow the discussion over at The Rotund.


Anonymous said...

This and the Rotunds posts are powerful and only recently have I started to honestly look at my own sexuality in terms of size and social acceptance. For example, I have an ongoing fantasy of a role I would like to play which would place me as something needing protection, something delicate and very very feminine. I have shied away from expressing this need to explore this because I have always had this assumption that I was too fat , too big too everything to play that role. I have denied myself what has long been a fantasy because I have undertaken even in my own fantasies!!! that I am not allowed that society wont allow me that my lover would scoff. I think there is a lot more dialogue that needs to be around this subject.

Notblueatall said...

Yes, communication! That is a huge part of it! Thank you for pointing to that. Also, all bodies are different even when both are thin or both fat. Some have injuries or mobility issues or just insecurities about showing certain body parts. I get it! I love that this is being discussed so openly. Thank you for that! Also, I completely love Salt-N-Pepa, so whenever they're mentioned, I'm locked in!

Nicole said...

Communication is definitely key. I think even after accepting your own body - that putting yourself out there with someone else, naked no less, is another big step.

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