Sex positivity is a term that floats around often these days. People speak freely, sharing their sex stories or stating how kinky, poly, casual, etc., their interests are and all the while believing they’re sex-positive. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find clarity in what is or isn’t sex positivity.
What it isn’t:
Liking sex or thinking everyone should
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the act of sex. I encourage it. I like to consider myself a great sex enabler, and if there is any way I can help someone achieve a place where they feel their best sexual self, I’m all about it. However, finding pleasure in various sexual activities, and feeling positive about them, is not the same as being sex positive. Many love the act of sex and yet still judge others who do sex differently than they do. The fact is, it’s possible for someone to be extremely sex-positive and at the same time not be interested in any sexual activity at all.
Not having boundaries
Everyone has boundaries. Everyone. When someone makes the statement, they don’t have boundaries they’re either assuming that the person has the same sexual interest as they do. Or they haven’t yet been in a situation where a boundary of their own has been recognized. One of the most amazing things about sexuality is how varying tastes are for people. It’s easy to consider that no two people like the same toppings on their pizza. Usually, we’re open to sharing our food preferences. Sex is no different. Like our varying taste palettes, our sexual palettes differ as well. Everyone would fair better to have a conversation about boundaries before bringing out any floggers or whips or inviting your partner to a swinger party. Without such a conversation one can never be sure if scenarios are hard limits or hell yes’s.
The beauty of sex positivity is that everyone gets to decide what works best for them individually. Each person should feel safe and shame-free to make an empowered choice, whether enjoying casual sex with multiple partners, committing to a monogamous lifestyle, or living in chosen celibacy.
Some people are kinky. Some people are polyamorous. Some people are swingers. Some people are queer. Some people are monogamous. Some people are straight. Some people enjoy fetish play. Some people are vanilla. Some people prefer solo sex with porn. Some people prefer group sex. The list could go on, and we’d never see the end of it. Judging and shaming others because they find their pleasure differently is not sex positive. Sex positivity celebrates the different ways people sexually express themselves whether its of personal interest or not.
What it is:
Sex positivity is consensual between all parties involved whether that be one person alone or a group of several people. Those involved each have the agency to choose what level of activity works for them. Sex positivity is free from coercion and shame.
I believe in erring on the side of caution when it comes to accountability. Being proactive in getting tested regularly, being honest with a partner(s), and being honest with oneself regarding interests and desires — sometimes this means participating and sometimes not. It’s important to recognize that either is okay. It’s sex-positive to have conversations about when and when not to use barriers; disclose STI status and be clear about the intentions each person has when engaging sexually. One person may be seeking a casual encounter while the other is seeking a relationship. Both are valid, but it’s important to be clear.
Respectful of differences
To be sex-positive, one would need to feel good about the fact that others have interests that are different from their own and recognize those interests are equally valid.
Sex positivity is a state of mind. Being sex-positive is honoring and accepting that human sexuality is diverse, fluid, and subjective. Sex positivity invites us to acknowledge that there is no hierarchy in sexual interests, sexual orientation, gender identity, or relational configuration. Sex positivity is honoring that everyone has agency over their sexual preferences. The spectrum of sexual interest is as varied as humans are overall. To promote sex positivity is to accept various forms of consensual sexual expression whether they are of personal interest or not. To be sex-positive is to be kind.