What does sex positive mean and how to handle it

February 19, 2021

Sex and sexuality are an essential part of our human nature. However, many cultures tend to be negative about certain ways of expressing sexuality and sex in general. There is even a word for this kind of attitude – sex-negativity. Sex negativity is a belief that sex and sexuality are inherently bad and that sexual experiences at their core are harmful, dangerous, dirty, and will diminish us. This negativity is very much rooted in protecting ourselves and others from the dangers that sex represents. It brings such burdens as fear and shame and leads some societies to determine the specific ways in which sexual expression is acceptable. Restrictions that come with sex-negativity lead to holding particular types of sex and specific kinds of people as the ideal. In most countries, that’s usually sex between heterosexual people, monogamous, of a certain age, same race, and ideally married. Usually, the more you’re separated from this ideal, the more marginalized and stigmatized you get. For example, people who are elderly, or teenagers, are generally expected to have no sexual feelings or interest. Meanwhile, young and middle adults are expected to have regular sex (not too much, not too little, just the right amount).


Here are a few other examples of sex-negativity: 

  •         –  sex education that only teaches about reproductive sex
  •         –  considering anal sex “deviant” or “dirty” 
  •         –  considering certain body parts and its secretions “gross” or “undesirable”
  •         –  violence toward sex workers
  •         –  violence towards transgender people
  •         –  purity pacts
  •         –  shaming victims of sexual violence and holding them responsible for what’s happened to them
  •         –  STIs, STDs, and other sexual health-related shaming


Sex negative cultures offer a very limited amount of ways to express sexuality and then often use it to sell things that might have nothing to do with sexuality. But it’s considered to be ok because it’s making money. At the same time, you’ll probably get shamed for talking about your actual body or being open about your sexual feelings. The sex-negative attitude can come not only from your family members or religious leaders but also from the government. As a result, there is an estimated 40% of North Americans who view themselves as kinky, and 27% of those kinky adults report having a sexual desire that they haven’t shared with a partner. Seems kinda sad, right? But thankfully, there’s an alternative way of looking at sex and sexuality.  


What is sex positivity?

Sex positivity is… Well, a positive outlook on sex. One may call it a philosophy or a framework, but really it’s just a specific way of looking at sexuality. Psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich is often credited with coining the term in the 1920s. This is the year when he stated, contrary to popular belief, that sex is actually a good and healthy thing. His idea didn’t really pick up that well at the time, but it got a second life during the sexual revolution in the 1960s and has been evolving ever since. You’ve probably seen the term thrown around along with such hashtags as #FreeTheNipple, #EffYourBeautyStandards, and #SexualHealthIsHealth. Sex positivity means that you remove shame and judgment from all sexual experiences and that you are body positive, openly enjoy sex, sexplay, etc. And, most importantly, you agree with the thought that sex is normal, natural, and primal in the best sense of the word. 



Erica Smith, M.Ed, a sex educator based in Philadelphia and the Purity Culture Dropout Program creator, says: “You don’t have to have sex to be sex-positive. But you do have to genuinely believe that other people can have sex any way they want with whoever they want, so long as consent is involved.”


To be a sex-positive person doesn’t mean that you’re in a specific type of relationship or you’re personally open to having more than one lover at a time. It also doesn’t mean that you see sexual experiences in positive light only, as you probably agree that the reality of human sexual experiences may exist on a vast spectrum from traumatic to beautiful. 


Here is a quick video explanation from Robin Hilton’s URSU Sexual Health Outreach Youtube channel:


It’s really up to you to decide on how to live your life. But having a positive approach to sex and sexuality is really just a helpful practice. 


If you have no one to talk to about your kinks, try Pure app. There may be just the right person somewhere among the community, ready to join you on your journey to sex positivity and self-acceptance.2picPure - What does sex positive mean and how to handle it

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The American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), mentions its vision of sexual health to be one where all individuals are entitled to enjoy:


  •        –  Freedom of their sexual thoughts, feelings, and fantasies.
  •        –  Freedom to engage in healthy modes of sexual activity, including both self-pleasuring and consensually shared-pleasuring.
  •        –  Freedom to exercise behavioral, emotional, economic, and social responsibility for their bodily functioning, their sexual liaisons,        and  their chosen mode of loving, working, and playing.
  •        –   AASECT believes that these rights pertain to all peoples whatever their age, family structure, backgrounds, beliefs, and circumstances, including those who are disadvantaged, specially challenged, ill or impaired.


If you want to learn more about sex positivity, we’d recommend subscribing to @sexpositive_families on Instagram. The blog was created by Melissa Pintor Carnagey, a Black and Latin sexuality educator and licensed social worker based in Austin, Texas. This resource will provide you with all the tools to check your sex-negative behavior so that you don’t pass those messages to others.

We also highly recommend reading such classics as Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture by Carol Queen, and Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive by Kristen J. Sollee. 

And if you still have questions about sex positivity or just want to surround yourself with an open-minded community, you can always download Pure – the most sex positive dating app out there.


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Here are 5 tips on how to be more sex-positive:

1 – Don’t be ashamed for wanting (or not wanting) sex

Sex positivity gives you the freedom to fulfill any of your sexual desires. Don’t feel guilty for having “abnormal” sexual feelings. Give yourself the necessary time and space, and be honest about what makes you excited sexually (or what doesn’t). Be considerate of the fact that people are turned on by different things and do not judge yourself, your partner, or anybody for having a sexual kink. Explore your options with sex toys, powerplay, polyamory, and anything that keeps you feeling safe and sexually fulfilled. The only rule you should have is not to be ashamed of your sexuality.


Here is a TedTalk by Mandy Ronda about moving beyond sexual shame:


2 – Explore your body

It’s great to be knowledgeable about sex and the issues related to it on a global scale. But it’s even better to know everything about your own body and orgasms. While focusing on pleasing your partner, don’t forget to get what you need as well. Be verbal about what you enjoy and how you enjoy it. And if you don’t have a partner to help you reach those sweet spots, be sure to treat yourself with some adult toys, erotic literature, porn, etc. Find out what you like, and remember to keep exploring!


Watch YouTuber JourdanRiane have a girl talk with her subscribers about exploring your own  body:

3 – Learn about sexual consent and respect other people’s boundaries

We’ve all heard the famous phrase “No means no”. However, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, more then 734k Americans are sexually assaulted each year. About two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Consent needs to be the standard – not an exception.


Here are a few examples of what consent looks like, according to the NO MORE Foundation:

  •  –  Each person is engaging in sexual activity enthusiastically, after agreeing to have sex.
  •  –  There’s continuous communication every step of the way while sexting, hooking up, or while in a committed relationship.
  •  –  Respecting the other person when they say no or are unsure about anything — from sending photos while sexting to engaging in sexual activity.
  •  –  The other person is capable of making informed decisions, and isn’t intoxicated or incapacitated, or being coerced. Consent needs to be demonstrated freely and clearly.
  •  –  The absence of a “no” does not mean a “yes.” The same goes for “maybe,” silence, or not responding.


Make sure both you and your partner feel safe and meet each others wants and needs during sex.


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4 – Be more accepting

Don’t think of anything as ‘strange’ or ‘weird’, just because you don’t like it. It’s important to understand that more prevalent does not mean morally better. Try to be more accepting of other people’s preferences and understand that other’s needs are their own.  


Kim Glenn, a sex and relationship therapist, says: 

“Anything that appears different or is misunderstood can create fear, which is a catalyst to destructive behavior. Sharing your kinks with your partner can create more physical, sexual and emotional intimacy.” 

If you want to learn more about self-love and accepting the darker, more sensual parts of your nature, try watching a leading expert in relationship patterns, Cheryl Muir, on YouTube.

5 – Stop the STI/STD stigma

Sexual health is an aspect of overall health. When a person gets the flu, we usually tell them a few nice wishes to get better soon. But if a person gets an STD, many people will treat them as they deserve it because they were dirty and careless. Why should it be any more shameful to catch an infection from sex than it is from shaking hands, a kiss, or being coughed upon? 

The only real cure for this stigma is better sex education. Read a few articles, learn how common STDs are and how easily they’re treated, and don’t forget to share your knowledge with others.

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