Woman on top

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The "woman riding" position (mulier equitans) was popular in ancient Roman erotic art (wall painting from Pompeii, 62–79 BC)

Woman on top, also called the cowgirl or riding position, is a group of sex positions in which the man lies on his back or sits, the woman straddles him and they face each other, and the vagina or anus of the receiving partner is aligned with the phallus of the inserting partner to achieve penetration.[1]

The cowgirl name derives from the image of the receiving partner "riding" the partner as a cowboy rides a bucking horse. It is one of a number of receptive-partner-superior sexual positions, another being the reverse cowgirl position. It is fairly simple to achieve and maintain and pleasures both partners. This position is also used as a precursor to the lateral coital position described by Masters and Johnson.[2]

This position is commonly cited as one of the more popular sex positions.[3] It gives the receiving partner more control and also allows the inserting partner to view and caress the receiving partner's chest and abdominal region.[1][4]

Reverse cowgirl[edit]

Reverse cowgirl position

In reverse cowgirl variation, also known as crab sex, the woman faces away from the man. She can either be in a kneeling or squatting position and can have her torso upright, or she can have it aligned with the inserting man's body. The woman has greater control over the extent and duration of the penetration.

This position can be used for vaginal or anal sex, with penetration achieved by a penis or a strap-on dildo. It serves to stimulate the most sensitive parts of the man's penis as a result of the way it is forced to bend while at the same time rubbing on the female G-spot and clitoris simultaneously.

This position is widely depicted in male-female pornography, because it enables the viewer to have a full frontal view of the woman, with the view of the man (except for his genitals) being of secondary consideration.


The reverse missionary position is one of a number of positions sometimes recommended for experimentation by partners in which the inserting partner has some form of disability. Dr. Ruth Westheimer wrote to the wife of a stroke victim that:[5]

"Another area that you could explore would be a change of positions. The side by side position is sometimes helpful in these situations, as long as you make sure that the stroke victim is positioned so that the "healthy" side is uppermost. You could also try mutual masturbation, oral genital stimulation, the female superior position or the use of a vibrator."

The female superior position is used a great deal in the film Caterpillar, about a Japanese war vet whose loss of limbs has rendered this the only possible position that allows copulation with his long-suffering wife.


A drawing from the 15th century sexual book in Iran, depicting the woman on top position 
A depiction of a couple engaged in the cowgirl position 
Édouard-Henri Avril's image of the woman on top position 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Discovery Health Sexual Positions". healthguide.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  2. ^ Masters, Johnson (June 1970). Human Sexual Inadequacy (1st ed.). Little Brown and Company. p. 54. ISBN 0-316-54985-1. 
  3. ^ "Positions for Sexual Intercourse". the-clitoris.com. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  4. ^ "Sex Positions For Better Sex". everydayhealth.com. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  5. ^ iVillage Health.[dead link]