Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sexual Agency

As a sex-positive, I don't like the idea that sexual stimulation is fundamentally Wrong (with a capital 'W') under certain categorical contexts, even where all participants would disagree with such a judgment. If two (or more) people go into a bedroom of their own volition, fool around in private (without violating the bounds of a mutually agreed upon exclusive commitment), are safe, responsible, and decent to each other, and do not regret what they have done (absent external influences applied after the fact), then in my mind, they have done nothing wrong. Doesn't matter the sexes involved, the races, the positions, the number of participants, the familial connections, or the ages. The individual is the ultimate arbiter of their own sexual agency - not the government or society. The individual makes the decision - the government and society exist only to educate the individual about their options.

Now, to be fair, I don't have a problem with placing (reasonable) restrictions on specific types of sex acts - like unprotected sex, either physically or psychologically "extreme" sex, or procreative sex. People should have the privilege to choose to engage in these activities if they desire it and are of a sufficiently sound mind and body. In a completely liberated world, everyone would have the freedom to destroy themselves (but not others, without consent) sexually. But I recognize that the state has an interest in protecting people from their own stupidity (to a certain point). Failure to mitigate the spread of disease, or the risk of unprepared (whether planned or not) pregnancy, as well as coercion and physical or psychological abuse, should all be prosecuted on the word of the victim (with all the defenses of democracy in place), in a culture that encourages open conversation, and does not shame people into keeping silent about their sexual misadventures.

I just don't believe that some people should be allowed to have all kinds of sex without discrimination, and others none - that it's a binary step function, as opposed to a dimmer switch. I believe that we all should be subject to the same reasonable rules and protections. Not everyone is (physically or mentally) capable of engaging in all varieties of sex acts. But there is not a person alive who can experience sexual desire that does not have the right to some form of stimulation. And because they have this right, we owe them an education, so that they may navigate their feelings and desires, and wield their agency safely and responsibly. It is not our role to withhold information in the vain hope of keeping people from the threshold of sexual activity. It is our duty to give them the knowledge they need, so that they will be prepared whenever they decide to cross it.

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