By Jamie Kenney
“Sex positive” is, I am pleased to note, a term that has been gaining more attention in recent years. A social and philosophical response to repressed, limited, and often judgmental attitudes toward sex and sexuality, the sex positive movement emphasizes that “good sex” is defined as safe, informed, consensual, and whatever else it also is beyond those things is best left up to the people participating in the act. That’s it, and I think that’s awesome. As a parent, I am already doing my best to encourage sex positive attitudes in my children, who are 4-years-old and 19 months — despite the fact that they have absolutely no idea what sex is, and I don’t have plans to get into what it is with either of them any time soon. No, this is not a contradiction, and it’s not hard to do.
What it comes down to is this: Sex positivity rarely exists in a vacuum. It’s usually part of a larger life philosophy that believes all people are entitled to happiness and respect. I have found that there are broad areas of overlap between the body positive and fat acceptance movements, feminism, and the LGBT community. As such, there is so much a parent can say to their child that lays the groundwork for them to have happy, healthy, and fulfilling sex lives (when they’re ready) that don’t necessarily have a thing to do with sex.
“Your Body Belongs To You.”
So not only does no one get touch you without your permission, but you decide what happens to it. If you teach little kids that this is true in the non-sexual streets, they’ll be more likely to automatically believe it once they grow up and get between the sheets.
“If They’re Not Having Fun, You Have To Stop; If You’re Not Having Fun, They Have To Stop.”
Totally stolen from “Thomas” of Yes Means Yes, but when someone else writes something so well and so succinctly why reinvent the wheel? This concept of consent and mutual happiness doesn’t have to have a thing to do with sex to A) be great life advice, or B) set the scene to talk about and understand sexual consent later in life. To quote the original piece once again: “What I said will mean a lot of things in a lot of contexts; but it will always mean the same thing. Regard for one’s partner is a basic component of respect.”
“Penis. Vulva. Labia. Vagina. Breasts. Testicles.”
Using grown up anatomical terms for all of a person’s various bits and bobs does a couple of sex positive things. It enables your child to talk about their body specifically, which can enable them to be specific and clear if there’s a problem. It also puts “bathing suit area” body parts on the same level as “arm” or “foot,” which we have collectively decided are not parts that require euphemisms. None of our body parts are anything to be secretive or ashamed about. Yes, of course, children should be taught that “vulvas are private” or “only you or a doctor is allowed to touch your testicles,” but that’s not going to be conveyed by giving those parts cutesy names and getting all jittery when someone talks about them.
“Love Is Love.”
Kids will ultimately not find non-heterosexual relationships confusing at all (just ask same-sex parents). If a kid has never met a gay couple before, they might be a bit surprised by the idea the same way my kid was surprised the first time he saw purple M&Ms. But after, like, five seconds it’s like, “Oh. So this is the same basic concept as literally any other relationship/M&M I’ve ever encountered in my young life. Cool. Whatever.”
This was perhaps best conveyed by this little chap a few years ago…
Point is, letting your kids know that anyone can fall in love with anyone else doesn’t have to be a “very special after school special” conversation “when they’re old enough.” Anyone who thinks kids can ever be “too young” to be aware of non-heterosexual romantic relationships, by asserting that, is essentially just admitting, “I think there’s something wrong and bad and dangerous and upsetting about non-straight people.” Do you not feel that way? Then do yourself, your kids, and the world the favor of unburdening yourself of the idea that kids need to be grown up and holding onto something sturdy before they find out that some kids have two mommies. This is something anyone who understands what love and relationships are can understand. This sets the stage for your child to know acceptance is not for a select few, but for everyone.
“To Each Their Own.”
This is basically one of the central tenets of sex positivity, but, again, doesn’t have to be limited to sexual attitudes. It’s never too early to tell your kids, “Look, different people are made happy by different things. Different people believe in different things. And sometimes those things may seem strange to you… and that’s fine. You don’t have to do what they do any more than they have to do as you say or believe.” I cannot count the number of times a day I have to tell my son, “You do not get to tell your sister how to play with her toys. It doesn’t matter if you think she’s playing with it wrong. There’s no right way to play with a truck.” Some day he might even get it!
“Everyone’s Body Deserves Respect.”
The life blood of the sex positive movement is the idea of mutual respect. Of course, the idea that everyone deserves respect is a core tenet of, like, common human decency and hopefully everyone strives to instill this value in their children regardless of their desire for them to be raised with sex-positive attitudes. So I’ll take it a step beyond “everyone deserves respect” and talk about emphasizing the idea that every BODY deserves respect. Kid bodies, adult bodies, your body, other people’s bodies, disabled bodies, fat bodies, thin bodies, black bodies, women’s bodies, etc., and any intersection thereof. We can’t define a “good body” simply as one that is pleasing to a viewer. A good body is one that enables the person who lives inside of it to do things and be someone that makes them happy. Body positivity is going to be clutch in laying the groundwork for sex positivity.
“You Are Loved And Valued.”
Sex positivity is nothing without self-esteem. Also kids thrive on the stuff, so it’s a good idea anyway.
“I Am Here Whenever You Need Someone To Listen.”
Complete Article HERE!
Have you ever wondered about the term, sex positive?
If you’re like me, you see it all over the place, especially on sex-related sites. I confess I use it way more often than I should. It’s become one of those industry buzzwords that has, over time, become so fuzzy around the edges that it’s now virtually meaningless. In fact, if the truth be known, I believe the term sex positive has been taken over by the sex Taliban who have made it a cover for their strict code of political correctness. Oddly enough, this is the very antithesis of its original meaning.
If you want to shame someone in the sex field—be it a sex worker, blogger or adult product manufacturer—you label that person as sex-negative. You may not know anything about that person other than you were offended by something they did, said or made. But still, you hurl the epithet as if you were exorcising a heretic. This is a very powerful tool for keeping people in my industry in line. But I’ve begun to wonder, who is setting themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not sex positive? I have to ask: What is the agenda? I mean, could compulsory ideological purity of some artificial standards of thought or behavior be “positive” anything? I say, no!
Like all good ideas that have gone bad due to overuse—or worse, sloppy use—the sex positive concept once had meaning that was life-affirming and enriching. Sex positive has been in the lexicon at least since the mid-1950s. It frequently appears in journals and research papers to describe a movement that examines and advocates for all the other beneficial aspects of sex beyond reproduction.
I’ve been using the term since 1981 when I opened my practice in Clinical Sexology and Sexual Health Care. The opening words of my mission statement read: “I affirm the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.” Way back then, I was flush with my quixotic pursuit to stand steadfast against all the cultural pressures to negate or denigrate sexuality and pleasure. I dedicated myself to spreading the gospel that healthy attitudes toward sex not only affect a person’s sex life, but his/her ability to relate well with others.
This came relatively easy for me, because I’d learned something very important about evangelization in my life as a Catholic priest. (Another quixotic pursuit, but we’ll have to save the details of that misadventure for another time. Or you could read about it HERE!) One of the first things one learns in seminary is how to proselytize, to sow the seeds of a creed, and then nurture them taking root by endless repetition of the articles of faith. Of course there is a downside to this, too. Repetition fosters mindlessness, stifles creative thought, and worse makes things boring.
But the creed statements of the world’s three great monotheistic religions are masterful works of theological art.
- Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam!
- Allaahu Akbar!
- In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Each contains the most profound kernel of religious truth the believer needs to know, but all are easy enough for a child to learn. And like I said, the secret is in the repetition. For the true devotee, these creedal statements are uttered dozens of times a day and to great effect.
Early on in my career as a sexologist, I decided to put the principles I learned in the Church into disseminating my new belief system. First, keep the message simple! I settled on: “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” This has been my mantra for decades. It contains everything you need to know about being sex positive, but it’s easy enough for a child to learn. Even now it soothes me to hear myself say these words. And it comforts me in the same way blessing myself did in my priestly days.
Despite my apprehensions, I continue to be an apostle of the sex positive doctrine. I know that even though my industry has corrupted the concept, others have yet to hear the good news. And there’s something almost spiritual about seeing someone grasp the idea for the first time. Let me tell you about one such instance. Some time ago I was asked to address a group of doctors on the topic Health Care Concerns Of Sexually Diverse Populations. Unfortunately, just a handful of doctors attended the workshop—which was pretty disconcerting, considering all the work I’d put into the presentation. I guess that’s why kinksters and pervs, as well as your run-of-the-mill queer folk, are often frustrated in their search for sensitive and lifestyle-attuned healing and helping professionals.
Since the group of doctors attending was so small, I decided to ask them to pull their chairs in a circle so that our time together could be a bit more informal and intimate. Frankly, I’ve never found it easy talking to doctors about sex; and discussing kinky sex was surely going to be very tricky. So, I decided to start off as gently as I could. My opening remarks included the phrases “sex positive” and “kink positive.”
Sitting as close to my audience as I was, I could see at once that these fundamental concepts weren’t registering with them. I was astonished. Here was a group of physicians, each with a large urban practice. Could they really be this out of touch? I quickly checked in with them to see if my perception was correct. I was right! None of them had heard the term, sex positive. The two who hazarded a guess at its meaning thought it had something to do with being HIV+. I had my work cut out for me.
I decided to share my creed with them. “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” I asked them repeat it with me as if I were teaching a catechism to children. Surprisingly, they did so without resistance. After we repeated the mantra a couple more times, I exposed them to the sex positive doctrine unencumbered by political correctness.
- Sex Is Good! Sex is a positive force in human development; the pursuit of pleasure, including sexual pleasure, is at the very foundation of a harmonious society.
- And Good Sex Is Even Better! The individual makes that determination. For example, what I decide is good sex for me, may be boring sex to someone else. And their good sex may be hair-raising to me. In other words, consensual sexual expression is a basic human right regardless of the form that expression takes. And it’s not appropriate for me, or anyone else, to call into question someone else’s consensual affectional choices.
- Sex Is Good! Everyone has a right to clear, unambiguous sexual health information. It must be presented in a nonjudgmental way, particularly from his or her health care providers. And sexual health encompasses a lot more then just disease prevention, and contraception.
- And Good Sex Is Even Better! The focus is on the affirmative aspects of sexuality, like sexual pleasure. Sexual wellbeing is more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others.
- Sex Is Good! Each person is unique and that must be respected. Our aim as healing and helping professionals is to provide information and guidance that will help the individual approach his/her unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner. This will foster his/her independent growth, personal integrity, as well as provide a more joyful experience of living.
- And Good Sex Is Even Better! Between the extremes of total sexual repression and relentless sexual pursuit, a person can find that unique place, where he/she is free to live a life of self-respect, enjoyment and love.
Finally I told them they ought to think creatively how they could adapt this concept to their own practice. It was up to each of them to make this creed their own. As it turned out, this primer was just the thing to open my planned discussion of health care for kinksters.
In a way this experience was a bit of a spiritual reawakening for me, too. Despite my misgivings about the contamination of the sex positive doctrine by malicious people bent on using it as a weapon against those they disagree with. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to watch these sex positive novices hear, and then embrace, the message for the first time. It was nothing short of a religious experience.
Hey sex fans!
Join me, and an amazing panel of other guest speakers, for this special event here in Seattle. I’ll be signing copies of my latest book, The Gospel of Kink after the event.
[When] Tuesday, August 20, 2013 [Time] 7:00pm until 9:00pm
[Where] Neighbours Nightclub 1509 Broadway Seattle, Washington 98122
Seattle is a national leader in supporting all areas of sexuality. In fact, Seattle has a robust and active sex positive community to prove it. With annual events such as the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival, community centers like the Center for Sex Positive Culture, and more, it is plain to see that the city is home to many people that believe the appropriate uses of sex extend beyond reproduction.
This community discussion, like all SOSes events, is open to the LGBTQ and Allied Communities. It does not matter what sexual orientation you identify as, gender you express, or if you are gender nonconforming. ALL are welcome.
According to the Center for Sex Positive Culture officials, the appropriate use of sex includes “creating personal pleasure, bonding intimate relationships, promoting spiritual growth, and enhancing emotional and physical health. In a sex positive world, everyone has the freedom and resources to pursue a fulfilling and empowering sex life.”
In August, Social Outreach Seattle’s INTERSECTIONS program will focus its community conversation on this culture. A panel of guest speakers will be on-hand to educate, answer questions, and some might even perform demonstrations for the Sex Positive Culture – Sex Without Shame discussion. Guest speakers will be representative of the sex positive culture and guests are reminded that this is an 18 + event, due to the content. As more information is made available, we will post to this page and you can always check for updates at www.socialoutreachseattle.com.
There is a $5 suggested donation at the door.
See the Facebook page HERE!
Religion and sex have been intertwined for thousands of years. Religion often inspires guilt about sex. That guilt needs to go away.
I was raised Christian, which involved Catholic school, Baptist church and consecutive nights at Bible study. The recurring message throughout all of the teachings was that sex is wrong, wrong, wrong – unless you’re married.
When I’ve written before about the complicated relationship I have with religion and sex, people have messaged me that it’s possible to be religious and fuck. While I’m sure this is true, and there are absolutely liberal churches out there, where I was raised the rules were staunch on this: you don’t have sex until you’re married. Full stop.
Letting Go of My Guilt
I’m an atheist now, for a variety of reasons, and I’ve been working to let go of the guilt I’ve attached to sex for as long as I can remember. The guilt was a combination of my own sensitivity (I’ve always taken things to heart), and the teachings that spanned my school education and social activities. Having dated several committed Christians as a teenager, none of whom believed in sex before marriage, I’d become accustomed to not fucking. I wasn’t one of those “anything but” religious types, either. Sure, I’d engaged in plenty of dry humping, fully clothed, but I was beyond sexually frustrated well into my 20s. When my lon- term boyfriend decided that even making out was sinful, I started to wonder if this was the kind of relationship I even wanted to be in anymore.
More Than Just Teaching Abstinence
Abstaining from sex wasn’t the only thing that religion taught me about sex. Time and again in Bible study and Youth Group, the leaders got majorly specific about what was OK and what wasn’t OK. For instance, one workshop I went to in college told everyone that men could masturbate because they needed the physical release, but that women should abstain altogether. As a massive feminist, this should’ve been the only wake-up call I needed that perhaps religion was not for me, but it was years before I gradually moved away from religion and the rules that went with it. The fact is, letting go of rules that have been programmed into us from an early age can be incredibly difficult. (Read more about the author in How I Became a Sex Positive Feminist.) Friends of mine balked and broke the church rules time and again. When one got pregnant at 16, her family decided in conversation with the church that the solution was simple: she’d get married. Once she was married, she was instantly absolved of the perceived sin that had occurred. Despite the rules, people have sex. They just get shamed for doing it. (Read more in The Worst Analogy for Premarital Sex Ever.)
The Rules Totally Affected My Life
In hindsight, abiding by the rules of the church was no mean feat, and completely fucked my head up. Telling my body to deny itself, and constantly being denied the physical affection I so craved, gave me a bit of a complex about relationships. That being said, I respect anyone whose decision it is to not have sex for whatever reason. It’s all down to personal choice and being respectful of your partner’s wishes. Because religion is often an inflexible set of rules, personal wishes get lost, and this can be problematic. I didn’t have sex until I was 24. I’d previously been in situations where it was offered, but it took me a long time to untie myself from the associated guilt. Even when I stopped going to church and chose to start moving in a new direction, my old habits stuck. It was difficult to shake the thoughts, feelings, and teachings that I’d held for 20 years. It was important for me to reclaim sex for myself and separate it from the shame that so often gets applied to it by religion. Religion has a lot to say about sex. It dictates when, how, with whom, and, to some degree, how often people should have sex. As a feminist, I couldn’t live this way anymore. And I absolutely couldn’t stand the sexist doctrine that set different rules for men and women. I’m pro-masturbation, and don’t think that it should ever be separated out by gender. Repression shouldn’t rest more heavily on women, and any doctrine that says it should isn’t one I can abide by.
Breaking Free From Religious Guilt
There are some religious and spiritual traditions that have a more positive view of sexuality. In fact, in a number of cultures the moment of orgasm has been described as a transcendental experience in which one is momentarily elevated to a divine level of awareness. Instead of designating sex to an off-limits area, only talking about it in conjunction with sin or marriage, and refusing to recognize that it’s a natural and enjoyable part of life, we should celebrate it.
I don’t want outsiders dictating who I can sleep with. I’m ready to discard the shame I’ve been layered in like butter. I want to peel off my guilt and make choices that feel right for me. And I want to encourage you to do the same.
Complete Article HERE!