You may have heard about the sex-positive movement, but do you really know what it’s about? If you don’t, you’re about to find out what it actually is.
When it comes to defining terms, it can always be a bit tricky. Everyone has their own definition of what sex positivity or what the sex-positive movement is.
Some people think it’s about the right to safe sex, while others think it’s about accepting one’s sexual behavior. Though these aren’t wrong, it’s time to get the actual definition of what it means. Sex positivity is the belief of consensual sexual expression in a safe and healthy environment. In addition, it also advocates exploring gender norms, self-care, body positivity, and sex education.
In other words, it’s about creating healthy relationships with ourselves and the people we have sex with. Like a ripple effect, it changes the way we all look at sex.
10 things the sex-positive movement is not
You may be thinking to yourself, the way we look at sex? What? Is there a wrong way? Now, I don’t want to point fingers at people and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. This isn’t what the sex-positive movement is about. Rather, it’s about removing sexual stigma and shame around sex and sexual behavior.
Basically, you’re not a slut for having sex with a guy you met at a party. You’re not a whore for kissing someone you met on a first date. It’s about supporting each other’s sexual decisions if they’re done consensually and in a safe space. That doesn’t sound too bad right? Exactly.
But it’s easy to get things mixed up, so I’m going to be telling you some of the sex-positive misconceptions. It’s time to know the facts about the sex-positive movement.
#1 Having no boundaries. Many people assume that to be sex-positive, they cannot have any personal boundaries. Rather, they need to be open and enjoy every aspect of sex. Well, that’s just wrong. There are some things you’re not going to sexually enjoy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be sex-positive. Knowing your boundaries and communicating them is basically the most sex-positive thing you can do.
#2 Enjoying sex. I wish it was that easy. If sex-positivity was only about enjoying sex, well, then this would be a slice of cake. But it’s more complicated.
Being sex positive doesn’t mean you enjoy sex. You can support the belief of consensual and safe sex without actually engaging in it yourself. We’re all different, some of us enjoy sex, some of us don’t, and that’s okay.
#3 Treating others like sex objects. Many people use the excuse, “I’m just being sexually expressive,” when using crass and graphic comments to other women and men. But they’re not sex-positive, they’re disrespectful and rude. Being truly sex-positive isn’t about treating other people like pieces of meat, it’s about accepting their sexual choices.
#4 You’re allowed to have sex. There are many people who feel they’re entitled to have sex, someone owes them sex. This is a huge problem in society right now and we can see it in the #metoo movement. It’s easy to use sex-positivity as a manipulative way to get someone to have sex with you.
But no one owes you sex, and you don’t owe anyone sex. It’s as simple as that. If you want to have sex with someone and they want to have sex with you, great. But sex-positivity isn’t assuming sex is like a buffet.
#5 Wanting to have sex all the time. Many people assume being sex-positive is about being able to have sex all the time and with everyone. But that’s not what it’s about. There’s this assumption that being sex-positive is about being as sexually open and available as possible. If someone comes to you, pushing for sex and uses the old, “but I thought you were sex-positive,” run far away from them.
#6 Talking about your sex stories to others. People assume sex-positivity is about open and free-love type sex, even when it comes to talking about sex. But, as you now know, it isn’t. Yes, you can talk about your sexual experiences, but today, we’re talking about it as if it’s nothing special.
Though you don’t realize it, you share an intimate experience with someone. You don’t know if they want the story to be told, nor do you know if your friends actually want to hear about these stories. Sex-positivity is about respect on all sides.
#7 Some people are better at sex than others. When people are dipping their toes into sex-positivity, they need to battle against cultural norms of what’s sexually acceptable. Some people enjoy BDSM, some people have a foot fetish, while others are polyamorous. None of these sexual preferences are bad or taboo.
It’s simply some people enjoy other types of sexual acts. Sex-positivity isn’t about creating a hierarchy of which people are better than others at sex. It’s about accepting everyone’s sexual preferences.
#8 Assuming everyone loves to have sex. When you hear a person say, “sex isn’t a big deal for me,” you usually gasp in horror and disbelief. We love to assume that everyone enjoys having sex. But sex positivity isn’t about liking sex. There are many people who don’t enjoy having sex due to their own personal reasons.
#9 Pushing power dynamics to the side. It’s easy to speak in an oppressive and degrading manner when talking about sex. However, critiquing sexual acts isn’t sex-positive, in fact, it’s the complete opposite.
Sex positivity is about understanding and examining power dynamics during sex, even consensual ones. For example, when a college professor sleeps with their student, there’s a clear misuse of power dynamic going on. Sex-positivity aims to analyze these issues critically.
#10 Treating sex casually. Sex positivity gets a bad wrap as being thought of as some “hippie” notion of free love and sex. But that would be too simple. Sex is complex. There’s no way around it.
Sex isn’t always fun, and it’s not always a good time. It can also be traumatizing and painful. Sex positivity isn’t about ignoring those sexual experiences, it’s about working towards creating a safer environment for sexual expression.
If you’re still not comfortable with the idea of the sex-positivity movement, that’s okay. Hopefully, with time, you come to understand what it is and how you can live a sex-positive life.