What does it mean to be sex positive?
March 24 2022 | Written by Nadia Ladak (She/Her) in collaboration with Next Gen Men
So, you want to be sex positive?
Let’s talk about sex baby…literally. Growing up, I was constantly fed the narrative that sex is dirty and something that you should be ashamed of. Words like sex, vagina, and pleasure were considered “hush hush” and were never to be said. Sex education was taught from a heteronormative lens, something we unpacked with our friends over at Next Gen Men, and only focused on the basics of STI prevention & contraception. But, sex education is much more than that. Sex education includes health, anatomy, well-being, pleasure, justice, and open communication with your partner. Through a more holistic lens, sexual health should be viewed as an important part of our overall wellness and this stems from a belief called “sex positivity”.
What is sex positivity?
Sex positivity is based on the belief that sex can be a positive thing in your life. It’s an attitude towards sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as healthy and pleasurable. It’s the idea that individuals should have the space to embody, explore, and learn about their sexuality and gender without judgement or shame. The exploration without “judgement & shame” is key as too often, sex is stigmatized & this prevents individuals from learning about their body.
Do you have to have a lot of sex to be sex positive?
No, definitely not! This is a common myth that if you are sex positive, that means you have a lot of sex. However, this is not the case. Someone who is sex positive is not necessarily having an increased amount of sex, rather, it means that they view sex in a positive manner and believe it is an overall important part of their health. They have a non-judgemental attitude towards sex & pleasure. They are open to learning more about their own body, their partner’s body, and how to communicate about sexual health topics.
Where did the sex positive movement start?
The term sex positivity is often attributed to Wilhelm Reich who first coined the term in the 1920s when he stated that sex is actually a good and healthy thing. While others had a negative view of sex and wanted to repress and control libido, he viewed sex positively.
Throughout the 1960s, there was another socio-political movement often termed “sexual liberation”. Millions of young people embraced “hippie” values and preached the power of love and the beauty of sex as a natural part of life.
Now, sex positivity is often associated with advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools and normalizing the conversation about sex with youth so that they can understand their bodies and make informed decisions.
So, what does it mean to be sex positive?
Individuals who are sex positive advocate for comprehensive and inclusive sex education, an informed understanding of consent, safer sex, and self-exploration. There are four key pillars related to sex positivity called “The Four Cs”:
- Comprehensive Sex Education
- Changing the Culture & Conversation (which is our focus at Marlow!)
What does Marlow believe?
At Marlow, our goal is to change “the talk” for the next generation from uncomfortable to refreshing. We want to be at the forefront of the new movement around sexual wellness. We understand that this is a learning journey and so we want to meet you where you’re at by providing a safe space to learn more about your own sexual health. That’s why we created the Mar-lowdown.
Why is it important to learn about sex positivity?
We focus on our physical, mental, and spiritual health but often, sexual health is overlooked even though it is a critical part of our overall well-being. Learning to be sex positive will:
- Encourage comprehensive sex education so that people understand their bodies
- Promote happy & healthy relationships
- Reduce the stigma, shame, and taboos around sex so that people feel confident to ask questions and learn
- Encourage regular STI testing & taking care of our reproductive health
Promote safe sex practices & consent
How can I be more sex positive?
Here are four ways you can be more sex positive:
Start to reflect on your own attitudes towards sex. Where did you learn about sex? What beliefs did you internalize about sex growing up? How do you communicate about sex with others? Taking time to answer these questions will allow you to begin your learning journey about your own sexual health & views towards sex.
Begin to Normalize Conversations Around Sex
If a friend or your child asks about sex, don’t shut down the conversation. Be open to answering their questions and hearing their thoughts. The organization Sex Positive Families does a great job of providing resources and tips to talk to your child about sex.
Read a Sexual Health Book
Try reading a sexual health book or follow sexual health social media accounts and influencers. If you’re looking for your next read, check out our blog on Top 25 books to learn about sexual health.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Practice communicating openly with your partner about your needs & wants. This can also include open conversations around testing & contraception. Our friends at Reya Health wrote an awesome blog on how to talk to your partner about birth control. Check it out!
Today, we discussed what it means to be sex positive and the importance of learning about the sex positivity movement. If you’re looking to be more sex positive, try out one of our four starting points to begin your learning journey. If you have any burning questions that you want answered, as always, feel free to reach out.