Sex positivity is, in many ways, an individual journey. A journey best endured with like-minded people. The sex positivity movement is taking a full-frontal approach and is being practiced everywhere! Think of it as an awakening to sex-positivity in a sex-negative environment.
What is sex-positivity?
Being sex-positive means being honest, open, and accepting of all people’s consensual sexual lifestyles. It means adopting the concept that there is not just one kind of sex practice. It means building a community of people who respect each other, are thoughtful and considerate of others.
“Sex positivity helps young people by dismantling the shame around celebrating and exploring sexuality. It helps young people learn skills around consent, safer sex, communication, and positive relationships that serve as the foundation for healthy sexual and romantic relationships going forward." - Clinical Sexologist and Sex Therapist Rena McDaniel.
Something to consider is what it means to be sex-negative:
It is safe to just assume, unless you are actively trying to be sex-positive you are being sex-negative. Don’t take it personally- it is a lesson we could all stand to learn, society sculpted us this way.
Examples of sex-negativity:
1. Telling girls to put more clothes on before leaving the house.
2. Telling moms that breastfeeding in public is inappropriate (even though that is what breasts were made for).
3. Violence toward sex workers.
4. Instagram shadow-banning sex educators.
5. Slut-shaming or victim-blaming.
5 Ways to Be Sex-Positive
1. Examine Your feelings
To change your perspective on sex you need to start with YOU! Identify your initial biases and perspectives. You must first ask yourself if you agree with the messages you were given about sex, or if you naively carried them over from childhood into adulthood. The next step is to ask yourself, ‘All baggage aside, what it is that I want to believe? What are my values surrounding my own sexuality? Am I meeting my desires or have I been ignoring them?
2. Know that there is no one way to be sex positive.
Sex positivity is about cultivating enriched relationships in intimacy and de-stigmatizing non-normative sexual behaviors. So as you explore and discover what you’re into you can get away from feeling like you’re no longer part of what society feels is normal sexual behaviors. “Whether you’re consensually non-monogamous or monogamous, sexually active or abstinent, vanilla or kinky, you have a right to feel great about your sexual identity and relationships."- Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, Sexologist
A great place to start is to know what consent looks like for you and your partners and how to communicate that to one another. Consent is the mutual agreement between parties who are partaking in a sexual activity together – anything less does not constitute as consent. Be respectful of your own and of others wants, desires, and feelings of sex.
The hardest part is going to be acceptance. It is easy to be turned off or be put off guard to hear others fantasies, desires, and fetishes. It is not up to us to judge, but it is fully in our hands to embrace, experiment, and decide what further sexual activities may be looked at. Seeking out movies or books or shows outside of the mainstream media can also broaden your understanding of other people’s experiences, and possibly help you develop a more open and non-judgmental mindset.
5. Be an ally
This requires you constantly self-reflect and grow increasingly aware and practice anti-oppressive philosophies. Be a confidant, don’t preach and push societal norms.
Being sex-positive is a mindset, not a behavior.