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5 Misconceptions About The Sex Positivity Movement

2 Min Read
5 Misconceptions About The Sex Positivity Movement

“Sex positivity” is a term that frequently appears in pop culture and feminist dialogues alike. However, the combination of overuse and lack of a universal definition has led to many false interpretations. So... what is sex positivity? I think it’s best put simply, as Texas-based sex educator Goody Howard did for Healthline:

“Sex positivity is the idea that people should have space to embody, explore, and learn about their sexuality and gender without judgment or shame.”

But sex positivity is also almost best defined by what it is not (— something you become familiar with the longer you are in the space). So… here are the top five misconceptions that I see the most.

1. It is not synonymous with promiscuity

Being “sex positive” is often confused with hypersexuality or promiscuity. This could not be further from the truth. Your sexual habits are your own personal choice, and they may look very different from those of the people around you (and those not around you, because sexuality is highly influenced by culture). Being truly sex-positive means understanding that having a lot of sex is a personal decision, as is not having sex at all, and there is no reason to judge either. 

2. It does not mean that you think you are amazing in bed. 

This accusation is usually directed towards women who refuse to hide or diminish their sexuality. It’s true — being sex positive in a culture which demands women hide their sexuality takes confidence. However, it’s important not to conflate that confidence with arrogance. You can be sex positive and be open to learning more about what you like, what your boundaries are, and what feels good. In fact, it takes a much more genuine confidence to dedicate yourself to the process of growing sexually with yourself and your partner. 

3. It does not mean all your sexual experiences are great or memorable. 

Wouldn’t it be great if it did? Even if you consider yourself a sex-positive person, you can’t have chemistry with everyone. Remember ­— it takes two (or more!) to tango.

4. It does not mean you are exempt from painful sexual experiences. 

Being sex positive does not mean you have exclusively positive associations with sex. Many people have experienced sexual trauma, harassment, assault, silencing, or violence. These histories can make a person’s relationship with sex more complicated. It’s important to realize that being sex positive does not mean sugarcoating these realities, or expecting to be exempt from them. Sex positivity is about creating a space where these truths can be upheld and accepted. Only then can there be space to heal.

5. It does not mean you will want sex 24/7.

A sex positive person understands that their sexual needs vary based on environment, partner, and situation. There are times when you simply feel less desire than you did before. A sexually positive person will experience these fluctuations just like any other person — often, the difference is that they are more empowered to have open dialogue about it. Talking through your sexual “ups and downs” is a good way to receive advice and better understand your own preferences and habits.

In other words: sex is a beautiful, diverse experience. Why not embrace it?