With all of the blogs, websites, YouTube pages and Tumblrs out there, it wouldn’t take long for someone to come across any page dedicated to sexuality and promotions of sex positivity. Thanks to the beautiful thing called the internet almost anyone can join in on these discussions about sexuality and attempt to promote sex positive messages. But what is sex positivity? Is there sex negativity?
Let’s start with a simple lesson on when the sex positive movement was initiated. The sex positive movement is a social, cultural and political movement that started (depending on who you talk to) in the 1960s around the “free love” movement. Sex positivity, back then and today is focused on pushing back on the “traditional” or “conservative” views of sexuality, in all of its expressions, as “bad” or “wrong.” So technically there is a social negativity movement which basically shames anything other than heterosexual sex for procreative purposes.
So what is sex positivity??? The sex positivity movement in short aims to promote safe, informed, consensual sex for all expressions of sexuality. The movement also promotes embracing one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. So if you are a male bodied individual who likes to wear women’s clothing while being tied up and tickled with a feather tickler by your female-bodied partner in order to get off, the sex positivity movement says that that is okay and how you have fun sexually should not be considered better or less than how others have fun sexually.
This way of looking at gender and sexuality attempts to show that sexuality can be a hugely positive piece of an individual’s life and identity and does not have to feel shameful or wrong. So long as we are educated and informed about the sex we are having and are practicing it safely, providing that it is consensual. Individuals and sex positive organizations are promoting these ideas largely though sex education which aims to teach and empower individuals about the kind of sex they are having or want to have. Learning information about how not to get pregnant or impregnate a partner, what toys to use with your partner, how to talk about consent, how to partake in anal play safely, can be important to know about before partaking sexual play. Knowledge is sexy after all.
Despite all the sexual diversity promoting and sexual acceptance the sex positivity movement has to offer, it is important to have a critique of sex positivity as well. The sex positive movement has been criticized for being a largely white, able-bodied, cisgender, middle/upper class movement that sometimes has trouble hearing the stories of trans individuals, people of color, those who have a disability, or those who are asexual and may not participate in sexual acts but still have a sexuality. It is important to keep in mind that carrying the label of a sex positive individual has a lot of responsibility and the label alone is not enough to make one sex positive. All of us sex positive people should work hard to not glamorize the kind of sex we have, while ignoring or shaming the kind of sex others have, and should continuously make room for the groups of people (like trans people of color) who may not feel that the sex positive movement includes them. We all should be able to feel great about the kind of sex we’re having and the sex positivity movement could help get us there.