Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Candice Hargons

Second Advisor

Dr. Sharon Rostosky


Research considering the positive aspects of sexuality, such as pleasure, within a cultural context is especially important for groups of people that are often seen as separate from the experience of sexuality, such as fat, queer women. Due to perceptions of their bodies and how their sexuality goes against traditional heteronormativity, fat, queer women's experiences with sex and pleasure are under represented. Using a critical sexuality framework, the present study sought to explore the definitions and experiences of sexual pleasure for fat, queer women.

In the present study, constructivist grounded theory methods (Charmaz, 2014) were used to analyze the definitions and experiences of sexual pleasure provided by 15 emerging adult, fat, queer women during semi-structured interviews. A definition of sexual pleasure for fat, queer women was co-constructed that highlighted the incorporation of positive emotional, mental, and physical experiences in definitions of pleasure. Results indicated that certain elements of partnered and solo sexual experiences either generated or inhibited experiences of pleasure for participants. For the fat, queer women interviewed, critical socialization that included experiences of sexism, heterosexism, and sizeism led to decreased feelings of pleasure worthiness that impacted their expectations for pleasure, and ultimately their feelings of pleasure. However, the participants also encountered socialization that moved against gendered, heteronormative, and sizeist beliefs of sexuality ultimately increasing the beliefs in the worthiness of their pleasure and their experiences of pleasure. Implications for counseling, sex therapy, and sex education are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)