“…without judgement of yourself or others.” That’s right, it’s not just about accepting sex and sexuality as it pertains to others, sex-positivity requires self-examination.
If sex-positivity were the cultural standard, we would undoubtedly see more support for sex education in schools, a less transphobic and homophobic society, and more equitable decisions made in legislation, to name only a few. Doesn’t that sound great? So where do we start? Like so many things: the journey starts at home.
Identify and Re-frame Sex-Negative Thinking
It’s possible that you’re not as sex-positive as you want to be. Not yet, at least. Since sex-negativity is everywhere in society, it can go undetected under the guise of what’s “normal”. As humans, we can adapt our thinking and behaviour in incredible ways. That means that if you want to change your attitudes and ideals, you can! But it’s going to take practice! Becoming more sex-positive means shifting the cultural paradigm that we’ve known all our lives. That may sound daunting but once you begin to notice sex-negativity in the media, with your friends and family, and even within your own relationships, it begins to makes sense to become more mindful. Our beliefs, words, and actions, are all connected. It’s easy to go with the flow and laugh at sexist jokes, or ignore the lack of representation in film and television. It’s easy to look away as marginalised communities are stripped of rights or simply under-served by the powers that be. Learning, and as importantly, unlearning, is the only way that we can do better when it comes to making sex-positivity the norm.
Ask Yourself ‘Why?’
We’ve all passed judgement on another person because of the sex negative scripts that we have in our heads. Sometimes that judgement isn’t even what we really believe, it’s just how we’ve been conditioned to respond when faced with taboo or suggestive information. It’s also very easy to project how we feel about our own sexuality onto someone else’s situation or experience. If you find that you easily pass judgement on issues of sex and sexuality, ask yourself why that is. It’s important to remember that regardless of what you believe or what you are comfortable with, consenting adults can, and do, get up to all sorts of things behind closed doors. Accepting that truth and supporting freedom of sexual expression is an essential element of sex positivity.
Recognising Sex-Negative Language
Sex-negative language is, unfortunately, still very common in many places. When a sex-negative comment is made, the most sex-positive response is to address it. But that’s not always easy, comfortable, safe, or advisable. Maybe you don’t want to derail the conversation, or maybe you know that the other person will respond negatively to perceived “criticism”. Sometimes we just want to gloss over our own errors in speech because this stuff can be hard. Even if you decide not to intervene, you can still take some learning away from the situation and consider how you might respond in the future.
Responding to Sex-Negativity
Calling out blatant misogyny and sex-negativity is more common than ever, but the insidious nature of it means that it can slip by undetected. It can be intense to interject on such a polarising topic, but it’s also an opportunity to shed some light and express your own values and what’s important to you. A simple phrase like “Let’s keep the conversation/jokes sex positive.” is often enough to encourage someone to tone it down. It’s also a phrase that prompts the question “ What does sex positive mean?”. How much you wish to educate or proselytise about sex positivity is up to you, but people can be surprisingly open to new ideas when you present information without judgement. Ultimately, it’s less about having the opportunity to change someone’s mind and more about the opportunity to honour your sex positivity as a facet of your own sexual identity.
Advocating for Yourself and Others
The paradigm shift towards sex-positivity requires participation and activism, there’s no way around it. What that looks like for you is up to you, but self awareness and learning are a great place to start. In many places sex-positivity is being thwarted by legislation, and people are being directly impacted. Intolerance and bigotry have no place in sex-positivity. It is a philosophy that embraces and unites people, instead of driving them apart.
Sex-Positive Self Love
Embodying sex positivity can be include getting back in touch with, you guessed it, your body. If that sounds unpleasant or difficult, you’re not alone. Often we find grace and acceptance for others in places where we cannot find it for ourselves. But sex positivity challenges that. Sex positivity asks that you value your body and your sexuality, and nurture and respect it the same way you would someone else whom you loved.
Sex positivity is good for the world …
… but it’s also powerful when harnessed on the individual level. By accepting sex positivity and becoming more tolerant and aware of the depth and breadth of the human sexual experience, you just might find out a few things about yourself along the way.
Why is sex-positivity important to you? Share your thoughts below and join the conversation!