Sex positivism? No thanks

We all have triggers – some which seem to be commonplace and some less so. One of mine is THIS term: sex positive/positivism.

I think a little personal disclosure is important. I have had sexual experiences when I have been in relationships and I imagine I will do so again. I have had mostly positive, loving, consensual, sexual experiences and some hateful, abusive, sexually violent experiences. I am anti-porn, anti-prostitution and not anti-sex. I am PRO-WOMEN, all women. All of this influences my frame of reference on the term and its impact upon me.

For those less than familiar, broadly speaking sex positivism is said to be a term that promotes sexual freedom for everyone with their sexuality. For me, it doesn’t. The term and most of its meaning appears (to me) to normalise sexual activity and normalise those who engage in sexual activity and seems to Other those who don’t. The majority of the definitions I’ve discovered relate to sexual activity, with a brief reference to those who do not engage – that’s not a criticism but is my observation of a much broader issue. 

I think one of my ‘issues’ around the term and its meaning is that in my society, EVERYTHING seems to be sexualised. This goes BEYOND raunch culture. I cannot walk down the street, read a magazine, read a book, watch the TV, have a discussion, without sex being a part of it. It feels as if it is metaphorically and physically shoved down my throat. I feel overwhelmed and bombarded by it. I’m acutely aware that the majority (seem to) practice sex, like to talk about it, hopefully enjoy it and it is a part of their culture. I would like a break from it in my day-to-day. Sex is being pushed as ‘the norm’ and I wish it wasn’t perceived in that way. The term itself sexualises as a benchmark and I ask myself – why do we need it? I don’t judge people who choose to engage in consensual and legal sexual activity and I don’t judge those who choose not to. Just stop normalising sex…..maybe I need to find a term which expresses that without Othering people who are sex positive? Until then……

Recommended reading relating to this post:

Sex positivity, compulsory sexuality and intersecting-identities – a beautifully written analysis from Jo on why sex-positivism no longer works for her.

My name is Tina and I am a sex positive feminist – where Tina explains why she is sexuality positive (Tina is an excellent writer: highly recommended).

Asexuality Network – an online resource and forum for people who I’D as asexual, greysexual, demisexual or whose sexuality simply doesn’t fit societies standards of ‘the norm’.

 

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9 thoughts on “Sex positivism? No thanks

  1. The whole “sex positive” label is meant to deflect the usual stereotyping of feminists as ugly lesbian man- and sex- haters away from women who want to comply with compulsory sexuality in the hope of a few extra crumbs from men – and toward radical feminists who everybody loves to hate. Even though it has “positive” in the label, it’s actually a deeply hateful and divisive concept, depicting women who give men what they want as being better than women who don’t.

  2. Thank you for your post, M. K. Hajdin. The label has bothered me from its inception and no matter how hard I try, it completely triggers me. I too find it divisive and don’t understand why a label needs to be made for a majority cultural experience. Jo’s post on the subject is wonderfully written and helped me to feel less alone on the subject. And now you have too. Thank you.

  3. Thanks, Portia – I thought I was the only one… Also worth checking out reactions to “raunch culture”. These two concepts have done women little good, IMHO.

    1. Totally agree, Judi. I get a lot of grief from many people about my discomfort with both issues. “It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s just the way things are these days….”
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. Thanks for this. I recently got into a twitter discussion where Sasha Grey was being lauded as an exemplar of “sex positive feminism”. There is nothing positive or liberating about her life in pornography. The fact that women are saying this ad are ostensibly feminist is beyond depressing.

    1. I feel the same. I am so sick of it being presented as something which needs a term of its own, something which needs to be discussed ad nauseaum. It is *everywhere* and does not need it’s own special platform. Thank you for the comment.

    1. Thank you for asking. I think your definition is very inclusive for people who I/D as sex-positive. I don’t see a need for a term that defines something that is the norm. I’m not asexual or sex-neutral. I simply don’t want a term created to celebrate and amplify the norm.

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