Cowgirl is a vernacular name for a partner sex position in which one person lies on the their back or sits while their partner faces and straddles them. This act often includes the penetration of the person on top.
The cowgirl position is one of the most commonly practiced partner sex positions. While it was typically used as a term to describe heterosexual penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse with the female partner on top, it is not exclusive to heteronormative sexual activity. Individuals of any gender or sexual orientation can partake in this riding style position. The cowgirl position can include vaginal or anal penetration by a partner’s penis, strap-on dildo, fingers, or without penetration.
Origin and History
While receptive partner-on-top positions have been practiced for millennia if not longer, the cowgirl moniker is a contemporary one. The cowgirl position gets its name from the resemblance it shares with the position one would assume to ride a horse or bull. In the Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu text infamous for its commentary and guidance on sexual connection and erotic pleasure, features a reversed variation of this position is called Virsha, which translates from Sanskrit to “bull” in English.
The gendered “cowgirl” assumes a heterosexual default to the sexual encounter, i.e. that a cis woman is on top, riding a cis male partner. It is a variation of “woman on top,” which serves as a heteronormative double entendre, referring to the literal position of receptive partner as well as a nod to how they are in control of the situation. The implication of stressing the novelty of a woman being on top of her man in this way can be interpreted as one of flipping heteronormative gender roles.
It is also known as the “rider” or “riding” position, which lends a more gender neutral and inclusive quality to the name of this sex act.
Assuming the Cowgirl Position
To perform the cowgirl position, the insertive partner lies on their back or sits comfortably while the receptive partner, or rider, straddles their hips and pelvis. The rider can achieve this by kneeling or squatting down over their partner’s crotch region.
This position can be performed to accomplish the vaginal or anal penetration of the rider. The rider can then receive their partner’s penis, strap-on dildo, or fingers and can rock or slide freely over the inserted appendage. However, penetration is not necessary to enjoy this position.
The person on top has a notable amount of control from this position as they can set the rhythm, speed, and depth of penetration, while the person underneath is free to provide any other desired stimulation to their partner.
Cowgirl for Vaginal and Anal Penetration
Where vaginal penetration is concerned, the cowgirl position can be very pleasurable for the receptive partner. Many people can reach an angle in this position that is enjoyable and can help increase the possibility of reaching orgasm. Depending on the angle, the receptive partner can experience stimulation of deep vaginal erogenous zones including the urethral sponge (also called the G-Spot), and A-Spot, and cervix.
However, many are unable to orgasm from vaginally penetrative sex alone and require the act to be complimented with clitoral stimulation to achieve sexual climax. If the insertive partner has a penis, different angles will rub and stimulate them to different degrees of pleasure and effectiveness for reaching orgasm.
The same considerations can be applied to anal penetration. As the angle is adjusted, the depth of penetration can be increased. Prostate stimulation for the receptive partner can therefore also occur in this position.
Cowgirl Without Penetration
While it is typically associated with penetrative sex, the cowgirl position and its variations can be assumed for non-penetrative sex (also known as outercourse) like hand stimulation, fingering, frottage or dry humping, or intercrural sex (when the penis is thrust between the receptive partner’s thighs or folds of skin rather than an orifice).
Reverse Cowgirl Position
Reverse cowgirl, or reverse rider, is one of the most common variations of the classic face-to-face riding position. The Kama Sutra features several versions of a reversed riding position, including the “Bull” and “Tigress” positions.
In reverse cowgirl, the receptive person positions themselves on top of their partner and, instead of facing each other, faces their partner’s feet. Like in the classic cowgirl position, the person on top can easily control the rhythm, speed, and depth of penetration. Once again, the partner on top can adjust their position to suit their ability needs and desired angle.
Variations and Adjustments
Whether front-facing on in a reverse variation of the cowgirl position, the partner on top can change the comfort of the position as well as angle and depth of penetration by adjusting their body. They may lean forward on their hands, stay upright, or lean back. They can also get into a squatting position. In any of these variations, they are free to change the pattern of their hip movements by sliding up and down, back and forth, side or side, or swivel their hips in a circular motion. Any such changes can affect the degree and intensity of stimulation being enjoyed by both partners.
In the classic cowgirl, eye contact, kissing, and caressing are all readily possible. The insertive partner can also provide hand or oral stimulation to the rider’s nipples. Because the load bearing is primarily in the rider’s lower body, both partners’ hands are free to provide other complimenting stimulation virtually any part of their partner’s body with hands, fingers, or by wielding a sex toy such as a vibrator.