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What Does Sex Positivity Mean?


Sex positivity is the act of having a respectful, non-judgmental, and affirmative view toward others' consensual sexual practices and gender expressions. It views consensual sexuality as an inherently healthy aspect of the human experience and prioritizes pleasure and curiosity. While a person might not wish to engage in these sexual practices or expressions themself, being sex-positive allows them to be respectful of the sexual choices of others, given that they involve consenting adults.

Sex positivity encompasses all aspects of human sexuality and gender expression, including reproductive rights, sexual orientation, access to sex education, different relationship styles, body positivity, safer sex practices, and intersectionality. It seeks to remove any aspects of stigma or shame that have historically been associated with consensual sexuality.

Benefits of sex positivity

There are many benefits to sex positivity, and these occur on an individual and societal level. The World Health Organization asserts that sexual health is vital to the overall health of an individual and that in order to obtain sexual health, people must have access to sex education and sexual health care and live within a society that affirms sexual health.

Being sex-positive allows people to view their sexuality in a positive manner, as it enables them to work through and, ultimately, release the stigma and shame that may have been imposed on them by family, friends, media, or religion. Letting go of shame associated with sex improves people's mental health and well-being and opens up a whole world of pleasure waiting to be explored and celebrated.

Being free from shame allows people to communicate their sexual expression, needs, and desires in a proud manner, not only to their partner but to friends and family. This results in a healthy view of sexuality, which enables healthy communication with others.

Once a person has accepted themselves and their sexuality, they are able to empathize with and celebrate the diversity within others whose sexual or gender identity differs from their own. This is vitally important as a recent study in the Journal of Homosexuality has found that social support dramatically improves the well-being of transgender and gender-diverse people when revealing their identity to those around them.

Examples of sex positivity

As sex positivity covers many aspects of consensual sexuality and gender expression, there are many examples of sex positivity. These can include:

  • Respecting people's right to access sexual health services, including gender-affirming and reproductive health care.
  • Not being judgemental when someone discloses their sexual orientation, interests, or relationship style, providing that they are consensual.
  • Communicating your desires to your sexual partner/s.
  • Using someone's pronouns correctly, or not assuming someone's pronouns based on their appearance. If you're not sure of someone's pronouns, politely ask.
  • Respecting your sexual boundaries, as well as the boundaries of others.
  • Accepting that bodies come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.
  • Advocating for comprehensive sexual health and relationship education to be taught at age-appropriate levels.
  • Prioritizing your own sexual pleasure.

How to practice sex positivity

Becoming sex-positive does not happen overnight. It requires a commitment to changing negative attitudes and beliefs about sex that have been instilled through the media, religion, and society as a whole. However, there are some methods that can be adopted to practice sex positivity.

Don't yuck someone else's yum. This is a fundamental aspect of sex positivity. If someone enjoys a sexual act, for example, oral sex, and this act happens between one or more consenting adults, then this should be respected. Sexuality exists under a spectrum, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Not everyone has to like all sexual acts, but they should be non-judgemental of those who engage in them.

Get educated. Accessing information on sexuality and gender that is factual and inclusive gives people the opportunity to challenge their preconceived biases and judgments. Learning about different types of sexuality allows people to examine their attitudes, values, and beliefs about certain acts to see how these may negatively affect others. For example, people may have internalized beliefs about people with disabilities and their right to sexuality. Continuous education is important as these biases need to be constantly challenged, and research into sexuality is still in its infancy, which means that there is new information being discovered all the time.

Is it possible to be sex-negative?

Absolutely! Society is full of sex-negative messages. These messages that are disseminated by the media, education systems, and religion, are so prominent that they are easily internalized, often subconsciously. Sex negative messages often use fear, stigmatization, and oppression to control certain aspects of the population.

Examples of sex-negativity include:

  • The media blaming a person for their sexual assault.
  • Using the words that describe aspects of sexuality as an insult, like "gay."
  • Believing that people with sexually transmitted infections are dirty.
  • Assuming that someone is heterosexual or monogamous based on their appearance.
  • Violence against women, femme presenting people, trans people.
  • Slut shaming.
  • Abstinence-based sex education.
  • Shaming people for breastfeeding in public.

Additionally, many people in the world still live in countries where homosexuality is illegal, and other acts, such as marrying a child, are legal. In these societies, sex negativity is highly prevalent.

Conclusion

Sex positivity is a non-judgemental and affirmative view of consensual sexuality and gender expression. It is built on the fact that sexuality is an inherently healthy aspect of the human experience that contributes to a person's overall well-being. Becoming sex-positive requires a person to unlearn the sex-negative messages that are highly prevalent in society in order to create spaces that are inclusive, promote diversity, and are free from judgment and shame.

Key takeaways

  • To be sex-positive is to have a non-judgmental and affirmative view of consensual human sexuality.
  • Practicing sex positivity requires unlearning the ubiquitous sex-negative messages taught in the media, schools, and religious institutions.
  • Sex positivity is built on a foundation of respect and inclusivity, which aims to free people from the shame, stigma, and embarrassment often associated with sexuality and gender.

References

  1. World Health Organization. Sexual Health.
  2. Journal of Homosexuality. Coming Out to Family and Friends in the Trans and Gender Diverse Context.
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