Art of Sexual Positions

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
sex position
Missionary Position, or, The Beast with Two Backs.

It is said that when the WASP missionaries arrived in continental America, they saw doggy position practiced by the natives like animals, and proceeded to proselytize them the gospel of the God-pleasing position and Christianity. This is, however, most likely a urban myth.

According to Wikipedia, the term Missionary Position was started by the sexologist Alfred Kinsey in his Kinsey Reports.

It is commonly believed that the term missionary position arose in connection with English-speaking Christian missionaries, who supposedly encouraged the sexual position in new converts in the colonial era.[7] However, the term probably originated from Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male through a confluence of misunderstandings and misinterpretations of historical documents.[8][9] The French refer to it as the 'classical' position. Tuscans refer to the position as the Angelic position while some Arabic-speaking groups call it the manner of serpents.[10]

Before the release of Kinsey's work, the missionary position was known by several names, including the matrimonial, the Mama-Papa position, the English-American position, and the male superior position.[11] In 1948, Kinsey published the male volume of the Kinsey Reports, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. He described the American preference for the position and called it the English-American position. Discussing Malinowski's The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia, Kinsey wrote, “It will be recalled that Malinowski (1929) records the nearly universal use of a totally different position among the Trobrianders … [and] … that caricatures of the English-American position are performed around … campfires, to the great amusement of the natives who refer to the position as the 'missionary position.’” [11] To date, lexicographers and sexologists have not found use of the term missionary position before Kinsey.[12]

In 2001, Robert Priest examined the origins of the term and concluded that Kinsey had confused several factors in accidentally coining the term.[11] First, according to Malinowski, Trobrianders played and sang mocking songs under the full Moon, and not around a campfire. In Sexual Behaviors, Kinsey wrote that the Trobrianders mocked face-to-face man-on-top woman-below intercourse, but does not give context. He mentioned that the position was learned from “white traders, planters, or officials”, but does not discuss missionaries. Kinsey also recalled that the medieval Catholic Church taught the position, and upon seeing the natives mocking it, assumed that missionaries had taught it to them. Finally, Malinowski wrote that he saw an engaged Trobriand couple holding hands and leaning against each other, which the natives described as misinari si bubunela — the missionary fashion. Upon accidentally combining these similar facts, Kinsey invented a new phrase despite believing that he was reporting an old one.[11]

From then on, the story of the name's origin may have been retold until it became largely accepted, with its connection to Kinsey and Malinowski having faded. Writers began using the expression for sexual intercourse in the late 1960s, and as Alex Comfort's bestseller The Joy of Sex (1972) and the Oxford English Dictionary (1976) spread the term missionary position, it gradually replaced older names.[13] By the 1990s, it had spread to other languages: Missionarsstellung (German), postura del misionero (Spanish), missionarishouding (Dutch) and position du missionaire (French).[11]

In William Shakespeare's Othello (Act 1, Scene 1), the missionary position was euphemistically called “the beast with two backs”.[14]

sex position
Cowgirl Position.

Cowboys, ride horses; by sexual transgression of the word, cowgirl is created to denote females who hold the job of cowboys, even though it doesn't exactly exist. It is similar to the situation where we have wide spread of female warriors or femme fatale or courageous heroine in tales throughout history, invariably all beautiful. Now, since in this position the woman rides like riding a horse, thus it's called cowgirl position.

cowgirl sex position
Another illustration of the cowgirl position. In this image, we see that the woman assumed a position that facilitates up-and-down movement, while the man helps in the up movement cycle.
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A variant of the cowgirl position. The cowgirl bends forward so that her breasts touch her man, and they can exchange saliva.

Woman on top position is sometimes known as Amazon position. The “Amazon” here refers to the Amazons of Greek mythology, comprising female warriors and females only and all warriors. By imagination, Amazons being beautiful, strong, independent, and controlling as opposed to being controlled, thus woman-on-top is aka Amazon position. When a woman is on top, she has control of the situation. In general, men do not wish women to be on top, nor women. For copulation, it may be different.

According to zoologist Desmond Morris in his Intimate Behavior, the woman-on-top is the origin of Belly dancing.

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Reverse cowgirl.
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The legs-up position.

Art by Rama. Used with permission. By the artist's request, you shall also be free to use these images provided that you allow others to do so too.

Some hot Amazon books:

doggy-style
The doggy position.

The doggy position is one of the most basic position. It is a position where quadrupedal animals copulate. Bipedal animals such as men, can simulate quadrupeds just as quadrupeds can simulate bipeds by standing on their hindlegs. The name doggy-position came from that of dogs, the most common quadruped in contact with men in modern times.

frog leap sex position
Leapfrog position. A common variant of doggy-style. If the woman lay prostrate on the surface, as in this illustration, it's known as leapfrog position, because it is reminiscent of the children's game Leapfrog.
sex position
The Kneeling sex position, is a variant of doggy style where the woman stands on twos, instead of all-fours.
stand carry sex-position
Stand'n'carry, or, reverse-piggy-back position.
Lotus sex position
A variant of the lotus sex position.

Have you seen a Buddha sitting on a lotus? You know, sits on the butt with legs in a intertwined crossing such that the right foot rests on the left thigh and the left foot rests on the right thigh, with soles facing up. Such a sitting position is called the lotus position. It is also one of the most basic posture of yoga, and does take some flexibility and getting used to.

If a man assumes a lotus posture and a woman sits on the penis of the man, then that's the lotus sex position. That'd be the ultimate zen of copulation. In the illustration above, the boy kneel instead, which decreases penis exposure and does not provide a flat surface for the woman to sit on.

sex position
Lap-sitting position. This term, is reminiscent of lap-dancing. That is to say, girls astride on men's lap and dance. In this practice, it is not so much of a performance of dancing, but intimacy as a service.
69 sex position
Two women doing the 69 sex position. Note the symmetry in the shape of 69. This position is inevitably assumed when the man's tongue is on the woman's vulva and the woman's mouth is enclosing the man's penis.

A unique property of 69 is simultaneous mutual oral sex.

spoon sex position
Spoon sex position. This position is called spoon because the position is visually analogous to stacked spoons. There is a certain asymmetry here, because men can spoon women, but women can't really spoon man. Spooning is also good if the penis is going into the female's ass hole.
butterfly sex position

This is so-called the butterfly position. The key here, is that the woman lies face up on a bed or couch, with her ass on the edge, and the man stands or kneels on the floor and penetrates her. Their torsos forms a right angle. The male, may lift the girl's hindquarters freely, and the girl may spread her legs wide apart, or wrap around the guy, or straighten up and prop on the guy's shoulders. This position is called butterfly presumedly because when the girl's legs are wide apart, and when the pumping is active, her legs simulate the movements of the wings of a butterfly.

threesome sex position
Threesome, or, ménage à trois. Threesomes are often coded by the sexes involved. In this case, Male/male/female or MMF. In a MMF situation, the women can be penerated in the mouth and in the vagina at the same time, or, in her ass and in her pussy.

Mathematically, there are 3 holes and 2 pegs. The 2 pegs can fill any two holes simultaneously. Both pegs jamming into any single hole, may it be mouth, vagina, or rectum, are also seen in pornography.

threesome sex position
Male/female/female threesome, performing a oral-genital daisy-chain. As far as two sexes are involved, MFF form of threesome is far more common than MMF.
sex position
Tribadism means pussy rubbing pussy.
sex position
sex position
Masturbation.
sex position
Autocunnilingus. Note the self-intersecting vase on the shelf. That is a mathematical surface called klein bottle. It is a surface with just one single side.

See also:

Erotic Visual Arts