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10 Ways to Be Sex Positive

On Tuesday, we brought you part 1 of Nadine Thornhill's thoughts on sex positivity. The wonderful Nadine gave us an overview of sex negativity with examples of how our society sometimes paints sex as a fundamentally yucky thing that does bad things to our bodies and souls. She explained briefly that sex positivity came about as a response to this largely pessimistic view by offering an alternative, more accepting and inclusive perspective on human sexuality.

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Now that I’ve written about what sex positivity isn’t, I can get on to telling more about what sex positivity is. Except I'm not going to tell you. I’m going to let awesome sauce sex educator Charlie Glickman tell you. The following excerpt is from a piece that was given to me in my very first sex-positive workshop and I thought it was fantastic. I’m unlikely to come up with an explanation that’s anywhere near as good, so I'm going to sit back and let you soak up the Glickman brilliance:

"As a sex educator, I need to be able to reduce this confusion in order for my message to be heard. One method I have found helpful is to compare sex and food…

Try to imagine the following world: Accurate information about food is freely available and exists for all ages in appropriate ways. Talking about what sorts of food you like and negotiating with a dinner partner is a simple and relaxed experience. Different preferences, whether personal or cultural, are important for the information they provide and are no more or less important than hair color or family history, unless people are trying to figure out what to eat together. Some people prefer to eat with the same person indefinitely, others prefer to eat in a group and still others eat with a variety of partners as the mood suits them and nobody is ever forced to eat anything or with anyone. Each person is an expert in their desires and needs around food and their choices are respected.

While there are many examples of how our world is different from this food-positive one (as anyone who becomes vegetarian in a family of meat eaters knows), it isn’t too hard to imagine this place. Now go back through the last paragraph and substitute “sex” for “food” and “have sex” for “eat.” How much more difficult is this world to imagine?"

I don’t know about you but I think this analogy is swoon-worthy awesome. Not only does it get me all het up about the exciting possibilities of a sex positive world, it also clarifies the idea that this isn’t about being "Rah! Rah! Let's all have sex all the time!" Having a more positive attitude towards sex does not mean that having sex is better than not having sex. It’s saying that similar to food, sex is just a thing. It’s part of the human experience, there are many options and that we should all be allowed to choose what will work best for ourselves in our own lives.

Why I like sex positivity

So you don’t have to have sex to be sex positive. You don’t even have to want to have sex to be sex positive. But I do. Not that I’m in a constantly state of arousal, but being a sexual person is definitely part of my identity. I’m also an extrovert and something of an exhibitionist. I like dressing in ways that show of certain parts of my body. I like doing burlesque and undressing in ways that show off almost all of my body. Sex positivity is okay with all of that. Sex positivity doesn’t restrict my sexual expression because I’m married or a mother or closing in on my forties. That makes me pretty happy.

Sex positivity means I can stop worrying about whether or not I’m normal. There is no normal in sex pos; there’s just me, my body and my life. What works for me might be different than what works for you, and it’s all sweet, cuppin’ cakes!

That also means I do have to care about whether other people are normal. Truth time: I’m a lazy woman. Trying to define a universal set of acceptable sexual practices is hard. Having to determine how closely those around me adhere to those standards is hard. Assessing people’s moral character based on their sexual behaviour is hard. I have a career to work at and a family to care for. Also, I just started watching Mad Men. Analyzing all that subtext keeps me very busy! I don’t have time to be judging everyone. Thanks to sex positivity, I don’t have to.

Sex positivity means I can talk about sex. A lot. I can freely and openly discuss it with willing friends because sex is nothing to be ashamed of! Yay!

Ten ways I am sex positive

#1 I try to do work that reflects my beliefs that sexual health and reproductive choice are basic human rights and access to comprehensive, fact-based sex education is essential to achieving both of those aims.

#2 I am big into consent. I blog about consent. I teach consent. The smut I write includes consent. The Man-of-Mans and I renegotiate consent and boundaries on an ongoing basis. Without consent, there is no sex.

#3 If I tell someone I’m married I also say explicitly that I am sexually monogamous, since one does not automatically imply the other.

#4 I try to use gender-inclusive terms like ‘partner’ or ‘parent’ or 'people’ whenever possible.

#5 Sometimes I’ll hear or read about a sexual practice that shocks the dickens out of me. I try to check myself and be aware of my own judgeyness. I also try very hard not to make disparaging comments about sexy things just because they don’t appeal to me personally.

#6 I try to be a queer-friendly and a queer-ally.

#7 I’ve stopped saying “Holy balls!” as an expression of horror. Balls are not horrifying. Now I say it when something good happens. I’ve also stopped saying “slut”, “prude” and “cocksucker” like they’re bad things.

#8 When other people talk to me about their sexuality and/or sexual experiences, I try to suppress my tendency to always be talking and listen.

#9 I let people self-identify in their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. I refer to them the way they’ve referred to themselves.

#10 I talk about sex!

Are you a fan of sex positivity as well? What are some ways that you’ve found to incorporate it into your life? What are some challenges you’ve faced? This blog is my attempt to carve out a wee little pocket of sex positivity in the world, so thanks for reading along and being part of this conversation all the others!

This was originally posted on Adorkable Undies.

Nadine is a sexual health educator, playwright, poet, burlesque performer, partner and parent living in Ottawa, Ontario. The plays and poetry she creates tend toward subjects such as clitorises, vibrators and non-monogamy.

She enjoys candy, fashion and dreck television. She does not care for pants. Find her on Twitter @NadineThornhill. She also blogs on Adorkable Undies. Find her blog on Facebook and Pinterest.
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