Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why YOU Should Be Sex-Positive

I'm a pervert. I'm sexually liberated. I enjoy the sensual, erotic aspects of life, and I voluntarily spend a lot of my time indulging in them. Obviously, being sex-positive serves me, because I can be positive about who I am and what I do, and not wallow in shame. But why should you be sex-positive, if you're not like me?

The answer is, being sex-positive doesn't just help you to have better sex - although it does, and that's a worthwhile goal of its own. But I imagine that not everybody places "having better sex" as a high priority in their life. Maybe the sex you're having right now is fantastic. Maybe you don't really like sex - whether or not it's due to a sex-negative attitude - and having better sex is actually contrary to your goals.

But there's more to sex-positivity than just having better sex. And even if you, personally, are not in a position to reap the physical and psychological benefits of having a sex-positive attitude (although I doubt that's completely possible), I believe that embracing sex-positivity on a widespread scale will do much to alleviate the pain and suffering of many who currently live under a sex-negative framework, and increase their pleasure and enjoyment of life significantly.

The attitude of sex-negativity hinges on the belief that there is something immoral or sinful about sex. Obviously, if you have this opinion, then you're not going to think that embracing sex will improve the state of society. But sex is a natural part of human life, and as sexual organisms, we all experience sexual feelings and desires. Going against the grain, and saying that sex is the problem in the first place, is a very warped view of human nature and, if you're religious, God's creation.

Look at all the problems that sex-negativity fosters. How many people experience guilt and shame over their sexual feelings and desires? How many people grow up hating themselves, or being hated by others, because of the sexual feelings and desires they experience? Additionally, gymnophobia (the fear of nudity) contributes to the body image disorders that are becoming pandemic in modern society.

Sex obsession and sex addiction are often cited as sex-related problems that modern society faces. It is understandable that sex-negative social activists would caution us that embracing a more positive attitude toward sexuality would feed into these "illnesses", but this is actually backwards. Addiction and obsession are rampant, now, because we repress our sexual urges, and they are forced to manifest in unhealthy patterns of behavior.

Just because sex-positivity celebrates the positive role of sex in life, does NOT mean that it advocates turning a blind eye to people who engage in unhealthy patterns of behavior. Sex-positivity does NOT mean saying "sex is always awesome, let's all have sex all the time". It simply means having a more positive attitude toward sex, and treating it with the reverence and respect it deserves - which also means taking it seriously when it causes problems in people's lives.

The fact is, if we embrace sex, we will become less obsessed with it, and it will no longer be a marginalized aspect of our lifestyles, just dying to break out after dark and transgress all boundaries; it will instead be re-integrated into our daily lives, and recover it's own appropriate level of focus.

Another problem that sex-negativity causes - and this is a serious one - is a lack of communication. Negative attitudes support a stigma surrounding sex and our bodies. This makes it hard for people to develop healthy attitudes, and to seek help when problems occur. That not enough people practice safe sex often enough, which itself leads to the transmission of diseases and unplanned pregnancies, is a symptom of a lack of communication, often caused by embarrassment about the topic of sex, but also by prudish, overly modest attitudes - the kind that support abstinence as a "form" of contraception and the cultural institution of slut-shaming.

All of these problems could be alleviated by embracing a sex-positive attitude. Chances are you've been raised in a sex-negative culture, whether those influences have been blatant or more subtle. And if so, you feel uncomfortable about the topic of sex. Naturally, you're going to feel uncomfortable about adopting a more sex-positive stance, and probably healthily skeptical about the good it can do.

But think about all the social problems we have to deal with related to sex. Many of them are directly caused by the same embarrassment you feel, the stigma that causes people to feel less than happy, and be less than vocal, about the sexual aspect of their lives. And most if not all of the others are exacerbated by the culture of silence and shame that keeps these problems in the dark, where they fester without access to solutions.

Do you want to continue to contribute to that? Is your embarrassment, your allegiance to the social mandate that there is something unholy about the natural biological function of sexual desire and intimacy, more important to you than helping to heal society of its crippling sexual malaise? If not: if you're ready to stop struggling against your natural impulses, if you'd rather stand up and do something good for the world, then start to adopt a more sex-positive stance today. The more of you who do, the more popular it will become, and the better off we will all be in the long run.

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