Sex positivity! A wonderful thing!!! And something that I think is fundamental to an effective feminist movement.
What is sex positivity?
Sex positivity (in my own terms) is the belief that safe and consensual sexual activity and experimentation is a good, healthy thing to partake in.
So, let’s break that down a bit: safety. A safe sexual experience would be one in which all parties involved are informed of–and have consented to–the activities. Safety also means that protection that is desired by one of the parties is mandatory if the activities are to occur. If a party requests a condom, a dental dam, or any other protective measure, then the other parties should respect that wish. If other parties choose to ignore that or lie about STDs/whether they put on a condom or not, that is considered non-consensual sexual activity. The first party only consented to activities under the condition of protection.
Next, consent. The big one. Consent is huge, and often defined incorrectly. Consent is the freely-given (non-coerced), informed, enthusiastic agreement to sexual activity. Silence is not consent. Consent to one activity is not consent to any other. Consent may be taken back–if you said yes and no longer wish to engage, you can say no and should be respected. If you are being threatened, guilted, or forced into sexual activities, that is non-consensual.
So–that brings up the topic of coercion, which I mentioned above. Coercion is being tricked, manipulated, threatened, or guilted into sexual activities. Coercion is not consent. If a party continues to ask for sexual activity after the other party has refused, that is considered coercion. If a party makes another party feel bad or guilty for not participating, that is coercion. Coercion can also take the form of blackmail, drugs, and alcohol.
For more information of consent and coercion, you can click here.
But back to the positive stuff!!
Sex positivity is a movement against slut shaming. Instead of participating in a culture that condemns women for taking control of their sexuality and desires, sex positivity says we should allow people the freedom to make these safe, informed choices without judgment.
It also says that we should support people no matter their sexual choices. From pansexuality to asexuality to demisexuality, from homosexuality to bisexuality to heterosexuality, no matter the gender or genders someone is, they deserve respect and legitimacy for their sexual and romantic choices.
Sex positivity is a movement against patriarchy. Patriarchal ideas dictate that men are sexual actors, sexual aggressors, and women are passive in regards to sexuality. Sex is seen as happening to them, not something over which they can have control. Patriarchal ideas also render non-heterosexual identities and non-cis genders invisible. Sex positivity allows women and people of marginalized identities to have agency in their sexual experiences.
Sex positivity believes cis/het men are more than their sexual desires–they can and should be respectful and respected for their choices and others’ as well. It dictates that their masculinity is not defined by sexual experiences. It believes men are more than animals out to find the next woman to have sex with–that they are emotional and respectful.
Sex positivity says that sexual experiences or lack thereof do not define self-worth. No matter what you do (or don’t do) or who you do it with, that doesn’t define you or your morality. Morality and self-worth come from other things–generosity, kindness, acceptance, respect.
So, what do we do to be more sex-positive?
The first thing we can do is to forgive ourselves. Be gentle with ourselves regarding our sexual experience or non-experience. We try to begin unlearning the shame or guilt we may feel.
Next, we demand legitimization. We demand our partners to respect our wishes and values. We begin to take ownership of our own sexual identities and experiences.
In addition, we support one another. We have to support people who choose to have sex, who choose to be or not be monogamous, who choose to wait until marriage, who choose to not have sex at all. We have to support people with different identities, different genders than our own. We can not slut-shame, we can not be homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, etc. We must be supportive.
That is what sex positivity means to me.