what exactly does sex positive mean?
How are these credentials earned?
Just because I hear the term a lot.
So I’m really glad that we get to talk about sex positive and what that means today.
Some of you may have seen there was an opinion piece that came out in the New York Times about sex positivity and saying that sex positivity was a mistake.
Unfortunately, I think the person who wrote that up doesn’t understand what sex positivity means as a movement.
So sex positivity as a movement was started in response to the cultural sex negativity that exists predominantly within Western cultures but though it exists in other ways in different places.
Sex negativity is a mindset that says that most sex is a problem or bad or harmful but it can be OK in certain circumstances.
And so, sex positivity is a response to this that posits that sex is not necessarily a negative.
Sex can be or good or bad. It can consensual or not so consensual.
It can be a lot of different things.
But that there is not necessarily a negative thing associated with sex.
It says that sex is something that can be positive in different ways for different people, that different people may enjoy different parts of it, different people may have different amounts of desire for sex or desire for different kinds of sex and none of that in and of itself is a problem.
So to be sex positive, there’s like set of credentials you have to earn.
You don’t have to go to like the school of sex positivity.
In order to be sex positive, what you have to do is unpack your own internalized sex negativity that tells you essentially that the only good sex or the only healthy sex is sex that happens within monogamous, committed relationships generally between straight cisgender people.
And also, preferably for the purpose of having children.
Sex positivity instead is this idea that people can enjoy sex.
Sex can be a positive in people’s lives even if they are not in the monogamous relationship.
Sex positivity is not saying that you have to say yes to whatever kind of sex other people want to have or you have to want sex.
That is not what sex positivity means.
I think there is misunderstanding a lot of times that in order to be sex positive you have to be kind of game for whatever, and that is not true.
You can be sex positive and be asexual.
You can be sex positive and only want to have certain kinds of sex or only want to have sex with certain people or only want to have sex inside of certain kinds of relationships.
Again, what sex positivity is, is just this idea that sex is not necessarily negative.
It is something that can be healthy and nourishing and beautiful, can be fun and playful, and that it is about again, unpacking these cultural ideas of what it is that sex can only be good in various certain circumstances.
Sex positivity as a movement in order to succeed ends up always being intersectional because true sex positivity is impossible under white supremacist, patriarchal, ableist, capitalism.
The reason being, when we have these structures of oppression in place, it is impossible for everybody to be able to access their agency and their desire in the sexual sphere in the same way.
People who are most affected by rape culture, people who are most affected by cissexism, people who are most affected by ableism, by racism, those kinds of people are less likely to be able to access sex that is affirming and positive and consensual for them than people who are at the top of these privileged hierarchies.
And in addition, those privileged hierarchies and the system of capitalism in and of itself tends to create a system in which there is a lot of exchange created through sex that is not always particularly level or centering of the autonomy and agency and everybody involved.
As a result, a lot of people end up having sex that they don’t necessarily want to have because it is a way to maintain their access to housing or income or because it is a way to access belonging or because they are afraid of what will happen when they say no.
So sex positivity is this idea that we can unpack the idea that sex is always negative except in these very specific circumstances and it also requires a larger unpacking of white supremacist, cissexism, ableist, heteropatriarchy, and the ableism also therein which makes it more challenging for people to access agency, laid in, fully informed consensual, joyous sexuality.
So again, sex positivity doesn’t mean you’re going to fuck everybody every time.
It just means sex isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it can be good.