Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Does "Sex Positive" Mean?

I recently joined Blog Catalog, on which I describe my blogs as being "sex-positive", among other tags. Though the term is self-explanatory to me, I've found that it isn't as clear to many others and there is confusion as to what it means. On one site, I read:

So what SHOULD we mean by "sex-positive"? The ability to choose and "un-choose" one's partners at will, I suppose, unconstrained by any "societal" mandates or gender-biased prohibitions. How to condense that into a more precise, accurate term, on the other hand, I'm not sure.....


To which someone answered:

As I hear it used among feminists and progressives, "sex-positive" seems to mean that one doesn't subject sexual matters to critical scrutiny. If you critique, for instance, pornography, polyamory, prostitution, sadomasochism, or anonymous sex, you are not "sex-positive." (Monogamy, however, is always in season: fire at will!)

To answer the second commenter, the biggest reason why monogamy is currently under critical scrutiny is because it's been rarely questioned and has had the official backing of church and state for hundreds of years. It hasn't needed a movement to defend it, unlike other forms of non-traditional sexual expression. Indeed, for many years, it has been considered the only ethical way of expressing one's sexuality in polite society.

For myself, being sex positive is to believe that sex is a natural, normal, healthy human need that can properly be expressed with or without love being present. Sex positivity affirms sexual pleasure for its own sake, unlike sex negativity, which asserts that sex is solely for procreation. What separates healthy sex from unhealthy sex is that healthy sex is always consensual and engaged in by those old enough to give informed consent. A sex positive society has more than one choice for ethical sexual relationships, including the right to make the traditional choice or to choose celibacy. Indeed, the traditional choice can only truly be a choice when it isn't by default; when society respects that one can choose something else.

According to the Glossary of Relationship Terms site, sex positivism is:

1. The view that human sexuality, including one's own, is delightful in itself, even apart from procreation. In theological terms, human sexuality in its generality is seen as preceding the Fall of humankind into sin and is viewed as a divine gift. A sex-positive stance does not preclude a morality of sexuality; nor does it preclude the social channeling of sexuality.

2. Belief that healthy sexual expression should be encouraged in a wide range of contexts. Within a sex-positive stance in this sense, there is much room for debate as to what is healthy for the individual and for society, so long as human sexuality is not seen as degrading in and of itself.

Comment: The term "sex-positive" is attributed to sex educators at the National Sex Forum (San Francisco, California) in 1968 or 1969.


Or, more briefly put:

Simply put, being sex-positive is about wringing the guilt out of sex. It’s opposed to self-loathing, hatred of the body, and fear of sexuality in general.

Works for me.

1 comment:

Iamcuriousblue said...

"As I hear it used among feminists and progressives, "sex-positive" seems to mean that one doesn't subject sexual matters to critical scrutiny. If you critique, for instance, pornography, polyamory, prostitution, sadomasochism, or anonymous sex, you are not 'sex-positive'."

Its not non-sex-positive to not practice or even critique or scrutinize various kinds of sexuality. I think the line into "sex-negativity", however, comes when one tries to prohibit or otherwise chastise or guilt-trip other people who do engage in those things consensually.

Obviously, the above is a simple nutshell of a more complex debate.