Men who “Regret” Sleeping with Fat Women

Today I woke up to a Facebook update from a woman asking for advice on how to deal with someone from whom she wanted a public apology. She had listened to a podcast and the guy who makes this podcast had a whole rant about how much he regretted having slept with the “largest woman” he’d “ever slept with” in his life. He likened the experience to feats of human innovation and JFK-era accomplishment: “We can put men on the moon. I can do this,” he said. He concluded with “I hate me.” 

“Fascinating!” said the sexuality scholar/social scientist in my head. But I’m also a fat girl who found it tres passé, fatuous, retrograde, and frankly a little wimpy and disingenuous. This man’s rant was one in a long line of similar musings on the subject of fucking fatties. Remember on the playground when we used make loud and public announcements about things we didn’t actually think were gross/strange/weird/funny just to gauge how gross/strange/weird/funny everyone else thought they were? We preemptively outed ourselves because the potency of the secret – the ramifications of someone else outing us – was something we didn’t have the strength to endure. It’s sad that many of us are still on the playground.

Besides that, I don’t know about you, but when I really, really regret something, I don’t tell strangers about it.

In reading his words I instantly had two thoughts. Remember the scene in Knocked Up where Seth Rogan notes how much hotter Katherine Heigl is than him… mid-screw?  My first thought was that it is really interesting to me that when a man sleeps with a woman whom he deems hotter than he is it’s a “score” or a high-five inspiring “win” no matter how the woman feels about it. In fact, there seems to be some pleasure in duping women, but when a woman sleeps with a man and he regrets it then it’s humiliating for her. Huh? Female sex regret is a routine part of our cultural script. All the straight women I know are always regretting having slept with some dude. As someone who studies gender, I can tell you that often when there are wildly different responses from men and women to the same “stimuli” then this is likely a gendered response. A “gendered response” simply means that a person’s gender-specific education is at play when they’re reacting to something that people of all genders experience. For example, sex. When men play a quick game of grab-ass they’ve been taught to react to that with feelings of pride. When women get a quickie in the bar bathroom we’ve been taught to feel like we’ve been taken advantage of and that we “ought to be ashamed” of ourselves. This is one of the ways that women’s sexualities are subsumed within and circumscribed by male sexuality. Our sexual experience is somehow canceled out when his regret process begins. With a single word (“Doh!”) our entire sexual experience has the potential of magically and retroactively disintegrating. That’s some powerful magic.

Important to note is that what a man deems hot is what the culture at large has taught him to think is hot. Beyond a tiny number of consistent, cross-cultural factors (e.g., health: “Hey you’re not dying of typhoid! That’s pretty attractive!”), we are taught what is hot and sexy and what is ugly and unappealing.

My second thought was how this man’s rant acted as a confession. His regret was not only something he allegedly felt very deeply (a regret he has been taught to feel), but the regret was so acute that he felt compelled to share it with anyone and everyone in his listenership. Now, being one of the few Mexicans I know who isn’t Catholic I’m not entirely sure about this confession business, but I’ve seen it a lot in movies and so I think I get it. It involves two parties: one listener and one confessor. But wait. Doesn’t there have to be a sin involved?

There is only one sin, my son, greater than fucking a fat woman. And that is liking it (even a little bit)! The sin grows with the proportion of how much you liked every jiggle, every soft bit. Fat women’s bodies are so powerful – and are the playing field of such great moral pontification – that the secret of having slept with us cannot be contained. It must be publicly announced. It must be confessed lest you lose a modicum of your hard-earned moral fiber. Sexuality is a private matter in White Anglo Saxon Protestant America – except when it’s a matter of morality. Fat women’s bodies are subject to a moral panic fueled by a public health scare (fueled by even fewer data than the last one!). Didn’t you know? The War on Obesity isn’t just about carrots and taking the stairs, it’s also about whose vagina you’ve been in lately, my friend. This is yet another war against women’s bodies. Shocking, I know.  

That women’s sexualities must be corroborated by long-term male joy is bullshit. That fat women’s bodies are somehow not suitable for gasp-inspiring, juicy delight in unfathomable. I’m not sure that the aforementioned things have been widely disseminated. So, I decided to write a letter. Here goes:

Dear Men who Allegedly Regret Sleeping with Fat Women,

Hello! How are you? I hope you are well.

I’m writing to inform you that it is okay that you like fat women. In fact, it’s great. You don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. Nor do you have to tell everyone you know how harrowing the experience was because, guess what? They’ve done it too. And they’ve liked it too. Just like you did. Your sanctimoniousness isn’t fooling anyone. In fact, it’s just making you look like a puerile douche. I’ve written this letter to let you know that you’re free to love up on anyone you like because you’re an adult. Congratulations!

This letter entitles you to one free set of balls. That’s right. I’m handing you some balls. In a letter.

Love,

Virgie Tovar

Virgie Tovar

Virgie Tovar is the author/editor of the upcoming fat positive anthology Hot &Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012). She holds an MA in Human Sexuality, is certified as a sex educator, and was voted Best Sex Writer by the Bay Area Guardian in 2008 for her first book, Destination DD: Adventures of a Brest Fetishist with 40DDs. After teaching Female Sexuality at UC Berkeley she went onto host The Virgie Show (CBS Radio) from 2007-2008. When she’s not teaching sexuality seminars or shimmying as her burlesque alter ego, Dulce de Lecherous, she is creating content for her video blog: Virgie Tovar’s Guide to Fat Girl Living. Virgie has been featured on Playboy Radio and Women’s Entertainment Television. She lives in San Francisco.

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15 Responses

  1. Amanda Wright says:

    I am a bit late to the party, but great blog post! I once had a guy say to me, mid sex, “I bet you don’t hear this very often, but I love your body.” It was totally disturbing.

  2. N says:

    – Beyond a tiny number of consistent, cross-cultural factors
    (e.g., health: “Hey you’re not dying of typhoid! That’s
    pretty attractive!”)

    There’s a lot of work on this in evolutionary psychology that shows that the number is not so tiny (e.g. youth, hip-to-waist ratio, facial symmetry…). This kind of work is controversial for good reason and demands careful scrutiny like any important science, but these cross-cultural trends are beyond dispute, and it’s shoddy scholarship to overstate the role of “gendered education” in molding these preferences. BUT this work also shows that body fat percentage is not one of the factors (presumably because gaining significant weight was such a luxurious rarity throughout evolution as to have had little chance to influence mate selection preferences) and is basically totally culturally dependent.

    I am one man who is attracted to women with significant body fat, women who are healthy and active and comfortable with their bodies despite societal pressures; flaunting a sizable tummy in a society that frowns upon it signals a physical and sexual confidence that I find hard to resist. I’ve never felt shame regret about this (though of course individual sexual incidents may have been regrettable for unrelated reasons). However, the fact is that a lot of people view this as a “kink”, so I don’t really advertize it (but neither do I particularly advertize a thing for readheads…). I think there are plenty of us; given Americans’ increasing body weights, we better start embracing fat sex or there won’t be many more Americans…

    • Virgie Tovar says:

      I prefer not to get mired in the essentialist vs. social constructionist argument. There is no doubt that there are compelling data that support social construction theory, specifically around gender. I’m not an anti-science social scientist, and I do not support shoddy scholarship or encourage inappropriate accusations of shoddy scholarship. “Tiny” is a word that specifically does not quantify, and which certainly captures the factors in parentheses you mentioned, N. Furthermore, I do not think that the role of gendered education can, in fact, be over stated. In fact, they are overwhelmingly understated, N.

      • Virgie Tovar says:

        *In fact, the role of gendered education is overwhelmingly and consistently understated to the detriment of all people who have experienced the tyranny and violence of gendered norms and education.

  3. D says:

    I really appreciate the section you wrote on regret being a gendered response. At one point I realized, “If he busts a nut and I don’t, why do I end up feeling bad? It simply means that he’s shit in bed and is making no real effort to please me. On to the next one.” I still have to remind myself of that from time to time.

    • Virgie Tovar says:

      Yes @D! Regret manifests differently in those socialized as men and those socialized as women. Gender education is so influential in the way that we perceive and react. I often have to tell myself “oh, this is the gender programming talking, not me.” In doing research (on gender) for my MA thesis I read up a lot on how gender is something that is HEAVILY policed in childhood by adults and other children. Teasing (i.e., emotional/verbal abuse) is a surprisingly effective tool. But there are other, relatively subtle forms too.

  4. Ellie says:

    Maybe they’re so ashamed because we’re just better in bed and the guys can’t keep up!

  5. Mo says:

    Dear Virgie Tovar,

    I love you and think you’re the best ever.

    xoxo
    Mo

  6. Thank you for this. It has also offended me, another fat girl! I hook up on craigslist and the guys that take the time to respond with “whale” “fatass” “eat a salad” are the ones like this that secretly want to bone me, but know they are inadequate! Love you for this post!

    • Virgie Tovar says:

      @Roxanne, on Craigslist it seems that men need to create a buffer for their potential rejection and also use women to take out aggression for feelings of inadequacy and anger. Fat women are considered socially acceptable targets, and are targets of particularly hostile online behavior because of the way that fat women’s bodies elicit feelings of both desire and disgust.