In a Sex Positive World
Pretend you’re a teenage virgin in Kansas City in the 1980s. Everyone talks about how hot David Lee Roth is and how Reagan is going to save the world. Sex happens, but you never see it. It happens in secret, in the dark. It happens in the backseats of cars, in closets, always behind parents’ backs, and, on one memorable occasion, under a pool table in a puddle of spilled beer.
You’re hot and bothered, but you never go all the way. Maybe you think sex is icky. Maybe your parents would kick you out if you were sexually active. Maybe if you went all the way people would call you a slut. But if you’re a virgin, you’re called a prude.
Your best friend is gay, but he can’t tell anyone. Already, people who suspect call him ugly names. Some guys in a pickup truck throw beer cans at him as he walks home from school.
Then flash forward 30 years.
In a sex-positive world, everything is different. Sex is discussed openly. It has purposes other than making babies: health, spirituality, relationship growth, exploration, and fun. Sex is consensual. It isn’t a source of anxiety, it’s a wellspring of joy. In a sex-positive world, sex isn’t used as a weapon; it’s a form of communication.
In a sex-positive world, all identities are welcome. Sex isn’t granted to people as a privilege or inflicted on people as a punishment. Sex is claimed, as a human right.
You get to decide what kind of relationships you want to have. Monogamous? Polyamorous? Casual? Committed? Short-term? Long-term? You get to be yourself: gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, sapiosexual. Transgender, cisgender, bigender, pangender, gender fluid, gender queer. Your race, religion, and politics don’t shut you away from a sex-positive world.
You’re a senior, or disabled? You are also a sexual being.
Kinky? Maybe you like feet, or have a thing for masks. You play with knives or electricity. You like to tie people up and hang them from the ceiling. You feel like a wolf, or a horse, or a playful tiger cub. You’re a hero, a slave, a martyr, a master, property. All that’s okay with the people around you. They may not like the same things, but --with a few exceptions-- they don’t pass moral judgments.
What Sex-Positivity Isn't
There is no place in a sex-positive world for nonconsent or illegal behavior. Most people have hard limits that have been articulated. Most scenes are carefully negotiated. Busting through other people's hard limits is considered sexual assault. And it should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway), that pedophilia and bestiality are still taboo, as is any illegal behavior. In short, kidnap play with someone who has negotiated it ahead of time? Okay. Actual kidnapping, not okay.
In a sex-positive world, you keep learning.
You learn about clear communication. You learn new techniques. You learn to live more authentically. You don’t say, “I’ll never get why people do X,” because five years later you might find yourself loving X. But the main thing you learn? The thing that keeps you coming back?
You are beautiful, whoever you are.
Previously published on the Center for Sex Positive Culture's website.