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Love & Lust 2014: What I mean when I say I’m Sex-Positive
Updated: January 31, 2014 at 9:04 am
I’m sex-positive! And, I’m realizing that’s a painfully ambiguous term. I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from “not viewing sex as inherently evil” to “insisting that everyone should have tons of orgasms and it’ll solve all their problems.” You can see how people using the first definition could have some seriously unproductive arguments with people thinking they’re using the second.
About the “orgasms for everyone!” thing. It’s not entirely a strawman. I once saw a presentation by American sex educator Annie Sprinkle where she basically argued that we would have world peace and feminist utopia if everyone in all the armies just fucked and had orgasms instead. It’s superficially sweet-sounding — yay, pleasure — but there’s some really obvious problems. Not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone wants orgasms, and there are lots of people who have fabulous orgasms, but they’re still assholes.
Sex-positivity has had problems with misconstruing personal choice as sexual repression and sexual exploitation as personal choice, and I don’t want to deny that. (“Sex work is always great because sex is super fun happy time,” is every bit as vacuous as, “Sex work is always terrible because no one could ever possibly choose that.”) I also don’t want to deny that I’ve done it myself at times. But, I do want to move away from it.
So here’s my definition/manifesto. Defifesto. When I say that I’m sex-positive, this is what I mean:
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