As a “sexpert” I spend my days talking about, reading about, and researching about sex. I look at it from all angles. The good, the bad and the ugly, and then I try and collate what I know and see into interesting and readable chunks for people to explore and examine and learn from.
In the years I have been doing this I have seen a lot, experienced a lot and learnt a lot, and every day brings more.
We humans are an ever-evolving, ever-learning species and I truly believe the more we learn about the world and people around us, the more we end up learning about ourselves.
Science, religion, mathematics, psychology... All of these things and more challenge us to look deeper into the universe and ourselves to find out what makes us tick, and sex and sexuality is no different. The more we know, the more we can evolve within ourselves and find our true paths.
To me, when it comes down to the crux of it, this concept of deeper knowledge and personal acceptance within the bounds of our feelings on sex and sexuality is what is becoming known throughout the world as “Sex Positivity”.
The Women and Gender Advocacy Centre defines “Sex Positivity” like this:
“Like many terms within feminism, sex positivity means different things to different people. As a broad ideology and world view, sex positivity is simply the idea that all sex, as long as it is healthy and explicitly consensual, is a positive thing.”
I would like to expand on this a little because I don't think it completely explains the broadness of this term. To someone like me who is around it all the time, I get it. I know what this little quote is saying and I believe and agree with it wholeheartedly. But then, I'm a sexpert. I get the full picture. I'm not someone who has been sheltered from the openness or the language of sex. My entire world and career is built upon a foundation of sex. I'm not someone who has to hide who I am or what I desire. I am lucky. I am a rare breed.
I know this because when I put this question to my friendship circle and asked “What does sex positivity mean to you?” the replies were varied. Of my sex worker and swinger and sexually open friends I got responses like one I would give if asked that question, but of friends who are not as into “sexual lifestyles” or even “gender politics” as myself, there was a lot of confusion. One friend even emailed me to ask if there was something wrong with her because she's never really liked sex all that much and could be quite happy living without it for the rest of her life and so did that mean she couldn't classify herself as sex positive?
The short answer to that is no. You can absolutely be a sex positive person and never have had sex ever in your life.
The long answer is a little bit more involved.
See, the thing is, not all sex is great. It can be completely consensual and completely wanted, and it can still be not great. All sorts of things can make it not great. Timing, technique, mood, so many factors. It can also be a case of “not for me”. Like for example, I am a huge sex positive person and yet if anyone tries to put semen anywhere other than below my neck, I get grossed out. I know right, the great sexpert gags at the smell of cum... Whoda thunk it, eh?
But the big difference is that I am fully aware that that is my thing. I'm totally fine with other people doing whatever the hell they want to do in the bedroom (in a consensual way obviously), and I am absolutely 100% fine with being able to talk about it without shame, or fear of rejection or ridicule. And that goes for all forms of sex. That's what the “positivity” part means. Not that all sex is woo-hoo awesome and everyone should love it and omg if you don't like it you must be some sort of prude and negative Nancy... No.
It means that all sex and conversations about sex, whether good or bad, no matter what you're into, should be able to be expressed properly and without judgement. That there is no shame in what we like or do not like. That there is no pressure to “conform” to what we think others want us to like or not like.
Sex positivity is not only about having a positive attitude to sex and sexuality and having the freedom to express yourself and explore what you like without shame, it's also about being confident to say yes, and just as confident to say no and to be comfortable within your own sexual skin. It's the knowledge that there is a whole universe of thoughts and practices around sex and that all of them, regardless of your own personal experiences or preferences, are okay within the boundaries of the people who are experiencing it.
In the simplest of terms, in the most convenient definitions (thanks Breakfast Club), sex positivity is an abandoning of shame and taboo, a recognition and acceptance of the varied myriad of sex and sexuality that resides in our world, and the ability to express ourselves without the fear of judgement. Even if it's not your thing.