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    What Does Sex Positive Mean?

    Updated 24 May 2019 |
    Published 04 May 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    Have you ever heard the term “sex positivity” and wondered what it meant? Nowadays, talking about sex has become much more acceptable. The taboos surrounding sex are decreasing, and the benefits of sex are much more well known. But do you know what being sex positive entails?

     “Sex positive” examples and meaning

    As its name implies, sex positivity is based on the belief that sex isn’t something that we should be embarrassed about. People who believe in being sex positive have a positive attitude regarding sex and respect other people’s sexual preferences. Sex positivity is also about feeling comfortable with your own sexual identity.

    Sex was a taboo subject for thousands of years and still is in many cultures. However, in recent years, a large portion of society has come to accept sex and sexual desire as a normal part of human life. 

    One definition of sex-positivity states that it is an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation. That said, as long as all parties consent to sexual activity and enjoy it, there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to having sex.

    These are several examples of sex-positive behaviors:

    • Being open to discuss your sexual preferences and dislikes with your sexual partner
    • Understanding and being comfortable with the fact that your partner might not want to have sex every time you do 
    • Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections whenever needed and talking about STIs without attaching stigma
    • Practicing safe sex, using condoms and other methods of birth control to protect yourself and your partner
    • Being accepting of other people’s consensual sexual practices, even if they differ from your own
    • Learning more about our own bodies, how they work, how to keep them safe during sex, and what provides sexual pleasure
    • Discovering what gives you pleasure and being open to trying new things
    • Developing communication skills that ensure that both you and your partner are getting what you desire from sex
    • Advocating for comprehensive sex education so that everyone knows how to have safe sex, what consent means, and that having sex is a natural part of life

    What is the sex-positive movement?

    The sex-positive movement encompasses all individuals who believe in sex positivity. The sex-positive movement focuses on emphasizing safe and consensual sexual activities, regardless of what the activity is. Each person’s preferences are regarded as their own personal choice, without judgment.

    Sex education is another key factor in the sex-positive movement. Every individual needs to receive a comprehensive sex education to be able to explore sex safely. Providing sex and reproductive education is also a way to decrease the taboos that still surround sex in certain cultures and areas.

    The opposite of sex positivity is, of course, sex negativity. Sex negativity is based on the belief that sex is destructive unless it’s practiced strictly within the confines of heterosexual marriage. For many years, physicians and science contributed to these sex-negative beliefs. Nowadays, however, science has discovered the many benefits of sex, and you can find doctor-approved tips to improve your sex life.

    Sex-positive culture

    The sex-positive movement has grown exponentially thanks to social media platforms and modern media. In the past, sex was a taboo topic that was perceived as shameful and embarrassing to talk about. 

    But in recent years, sex has been recognized as a normal part of life that should be talked about and discussed openly. These positions have also helped to encourage safe sex, especially after HIV and its prevention became a part of everyday culture in the 1990s.

    A sex-positive culture also seeks to battle sex-related shaming. While sex negativity shames people for their sexual activities, for being victims of sexual abuse, or even for having sex for the first time outside of marriage, a sex-positive culture accepts that everyone has a right to make their own choices about their sex life.

    Sex-positive asexuality

    Sex positivity can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. This includes the LGBTQI community and asexual individuals. Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction towards others and having low or no sexual desire at all.

    But that doesn’t mean that all asexual people feel the same way about sex. While some asexual people aren’t interested in sex at all, other asexual individuals also identify as sex-positive. That simply means that they’re accepting of other people’s sexual preferences and might be interested in learning more about them even if they’re not interested in taking part in those activities themselves.

    You can be asexual, avoid shaming culture, and promote a comprehensive sexual education — all parts of sex-positive culture.

    Sex-positive parenting 

    Sex-positive parents seek to teach their children — especially teenagers — about safe sex and consent and to empower them to make their own decisions about their sex lives.

    Studies have shown that teenagers who have discussed sex openly with their parents are more likely to wait until they’re older to pursue an active sex life. They’re also more likely to approach their parents with any sex-related questions they might have. Growing up in a sex-positive household also increases the likelihood that teenagers will engage in safe sex and use condoms and birth control appropriately.

    Overall, sex positivity seeks to change negative perceptions about sex and empower all individuals to take control over their sex lives. As long as sexual activity is pleasurable and all parties enthusiastically consent, being sex-positive can lead to safer sex and more pleasure for everyone involved!

    History of updates

    Current version (24 May 2019)

    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (04 May 2019)

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