Nowadays, people are more open and comfortable with talking about sex. The taboos around sex are decreasing, and the topic is being more and more accepted. Because of this, the benefits of sex and safe sex practices are more well known, and people are more comfortable with their bodies and identities.
Sex positivity embraces human sexuality with a positive attitude. We can say someone is sex positive when they are comfortable with their own sexuality and sexual identity, and they respect other people’s sexual preferences.
Sex positivity can be shown in numerous ways, but it can be defined as “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation” (Shkodzik, 2019). With that said, there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to sex, as long as all individuals engaged in the sexual activity consent to it and are enjoying it.
How to be sex positive
To embrace your sexuality and be a sex positive person means reflecting what you want from sex. What kind of sex do you like? What things would you like to explore in bed? Exploring these questions will help you embrace your sexuality and discover more about yourself. Some may still feel a bit ashamed as they explore their sexuality and their body, while others may even discover that they have low or no sexual desire at all — and that’s totally okay!
Asexuality means lacking sexual attraction towards others and having little to no sexual desire. Although asexuals may not be interested in sex, they can still be sex positive individuals. They can be supportive of other people’s sexuality and sexual preferences, even though they are not interested in taking part in any sexual activity themselves.
Part of being sex positive is also battling sex-related shaming and sex negativity, the oppositive of being sex positive. While sex positivity acknowledges that everyone has the right to make decisions about their sex life, sex negativity is shaming other people for their sexual activities and preferences, for being sexual abuse victims (victim-blaming), or for having sex outside of marriage.
Some examples of sex positive behaviors are:
- Openly discussing your sexual preferences and boundaries with your partner.
- Exploring your body, discovering what you like in bed or what gives you pleasure, and opening yourself to try new things.
- Knowing and practicing safe sex, such as using condoms and other contraceptive methods.
- Knowing the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections and how they are passed on and contracted, and getting tested for STIs whenever needed.
- Understanding that your partner may not always be in the mood for sex when you are.
- Accepting other people’s sexual preferences, even if they differ from yours.
What Sex Positivity DOESN’T mean
We affirm that sex is healthy and very much a part of human life, but that doesn’t mean that sex is a part of every individual’s life.
Enjoying sex does not automatically equate to being sex positive. There are people who enjoy sex, but judge or shame other people for how they have sex or enjoy sex. An example of this would be judging or invalidating how homosexual couples have sex. Judging or shaming others for their sexual activites is NOT being sex positive.
There are also people who love sex and pressure or force others to have sex with them. This shows that they don’t respect other people’s choices and rights to their own bodies.
Just as liking sex does not automatically mean you’re sex positive, you can also be sex positive without having to like sex at all. If you support what other people do, whether you like sex or not, then you can be sex positive.
While there are several ways to be sex positive, there are also a lot of ways how to not be truly sex positive.
Forcing everyone to like sex
Being sex positive doesn’t automatically mean you like sex, and it also doesn’t mean forcing everyone to likes sex. Everyone has the right to decide that they’re not interested in sex, and all their reasons are valid, even if they don’t make sense to you.
Showing everyone the joys of sex, whether they’re interested or not, doesn’t make you sex positive. If you really want to spread sex positivity, you should respect other people’s sexual preferences and the choices they make for their sex lives.
Wanting to have sex with anyone, anytime, all the time
If we want to make a world in which everyone feels empowered to make their own sexual choices, then we should also respect when people don’t want to have sex, are not in the mood for sex, or are not interested in casual sex. Saying ‘no’ and refusing to have sex with a person is also a valid choice. Anyone who can’t accept the rejection and calls you prude is also violating your consent.
Sexually objectifying other people
A true sex positive person does NOT treat other people as props or objects for their own enjoyment. If through sexual attraction is the only way you see other people, then clearly that’s something you need to work on. Regardless of what a person is wearing or how they are acting, you have no right to project your own desires on them.
Feeling entitled to sex
What’s worse than objectifying people is feeling people owe you sex. That’s sexual entitlement, and some people claim that it’s being sex positive. Not everyone wants to have sex with you, and you should respect that. Don’t ever force or pressure other people to have sex with you — that’s not sex positivity!
Women are often pressured or coerced to always be in the mood for sex when their partner wants to have sex, especially when they’re married or in a relationship. Sexual entitlement is the root of sexual violence. Destroying rape culture also means destroying the idea that anyone owes anyone else sex.
We should view all people as individuals; human beings who have their own needs and desires, and the right to make their own decisions.