Just so there’s something on your blog roll that isn’t all election all the time …
Everyone and her sister has been linking to this study. The full text of the study apparently is only on line for subscribers, but I dug through the various short news segments and at least found the abstract.
Body mass index was not significantly associated with sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, frequency of heterosexual intercourse, and the number of lifetime or current male partners. Overweight women and obese women were more likely to report ever having male sexual intercourse (P< .001).
I’ve seen worse studies; I’ve written about worse studies. (And I spared you the rant I would have written about this example of pure junk science, which bases its silly conclusions on sixteen (!) subjects.) At least the fat and sex study was based on 7,000 people. The press coverage is uneven and sometimes offensive, and the abstract has problems, but (without having seen the paper) the data might actually be useful.
Just to get my grammar-police moment out of the way first, “male sexual intercourse” is not what a woman has with a man. “Male sexual intercourse” is what a man has with whoever he might happen to be having sexual intercourse with.
Other than that, the study seems to be
1) heterosexist (surprise!), although the abstract does acknowledge the existence of sexual orientation, so there may be more data in the paper itself.
2) focused on intercourse, by which I imagine they mean penis-(or-perhaps-something-else)-in-vagina, as opposed to the myriad other delightful options
3) fatphobic, given that the alternative to being overweight or obese is to be “normal.” Again unsurprisingly, underweight women don’t exist, at least in the abstract
4) more than a little bit judgmental, if we can go by what the investigators are quoted as saying in the press, such as:
Researchers suspect the stereotype could mean overweight women get different messages than thinner women from physicians regarding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention, and that their sexual behavior might therefore vary.
“Some medical practitioners may not do appropriate follow-up with women who are overweight; they might assume they aren’t having sex unless they are told otherwise,” said Oregon State University Professor Marie Harvey, a specialist in women’s sexual and reproductive health issues.
Is it just me, or do you hear the undertone of “women who get good medical advice don’t have sex” in that statement?
Despite all my caveats, I have to say that I think both the study and the way it’s being reported are basically good things. The researchers set out to see if fat women should get the same level of reproductive counseling as thin women (duh!), but now there’s An Academic Study we can take with us to the doctor if/when we get short shrift. And Dr. Marie Harvey may be a little anti-sex for my taste, but she has some fat-positive ideas:
In a different report on the study, she said, “”I was glad to see that the stereotype that you have to be slender to have sex is just that, a stereotype.”
Now I’m waiting for the study that shows that fat women have all kinds of sex, that we very often find it enjoyable, and that our partners find us gorgeous!