What Sex-Positivity Is — And Is Not


What Sex-Positivity Is — And Is Not

I have been using the term “sex-positive” for over 25 years–I first heard it when I moved to San Francisco in the 1980s to get my PhD at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. It immediately became part of my vocabulary; I had been doing LGBTQ activist work since the mid-1970s, which included taking about homophobia, and the way “sex-positive” illuminates and helps to address a…

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Sometimes people say “sex is a part of life” to mean “sex isn’t a big deal.” I don’t agree with that. I think sex is a big deal—but only a big deal. Not a magical mystical none-of-the-normal-rules-apply deal.

Which is to say: the normal rules do apply. Everything you learned from Mister Rogers about how you treat other people—that’s how you treat other people when you’re fucking them, too. It’s simple stuff, mostly, and you don’t need some Sex Expert to dispense Sex Wisdom to know it: Be honest. Ask permission before touching things that aren’t yours. Be safe. Don’t bully or make fun of people. Don’t throw tantrums when you don’t get everything you want. Keep your promises. Use your words. Brush your teeth.

Really, this is the whole foundation of my sexual ethics. It’s not Betty Dodson and it’s not Susie Bright. It’s Fred McFeely Rogers.


Cliff Pervocracy



Everything you know about sex is wrong? Well, maybe not EVERYTHING, but I hope you’ll allow for a little poetic license. Besides, when you start seriously digging into the vast, wild, largely uncharted world of sex, it can start to feel that way.

Masturbation is always a solitary activity. Nope.

Hardcore porn has only been around for a few decades. Uh-uh.

There are only two genders. Wrong.

Women’s sex drives shut down when they’re pregnant. Not hardly.

Everyone gets laid at an orgy. Porn is inherently degrading. Prostitutes and strippers are victims. Writing good sex scenes is easy. You must have sensation in your genitals in order to orgasm. Circumcision doesn’t affect your sex life. There’s nothing sexy about chess. Or blood. All myths.

But this book is about much more than knocking down false beliefs. The contributors tackle things you may not even have considered. Who knew that being cold could be a turn-on? Or that a woman in her seventies and a man in his twenties could have a great relationship? What’s sex like when you’re tripping on LSD? What goes on inside one of the world’s largest dildo factories? Do erotic dancers ever get turned on by their customers? Who is the “Miller” in the Supreme Court’s famous Miller standard for obscenity? And - perhaps the least obvious question of them all - is the rectum an Easter basket?

Still other writers in these pages are rescuing sexual knowledge in danger of disappearing: The goings-on in the infamous but now extinct porno theaters of Times Square. The legendary powers of the vagina. The work of the greatest erotic folklorist of all time. Japan’s disappearing sex museums. The world’s biggest collection of pornographic material. The most famous swingers’ club, long defunct. The forgotten sex books published by bodybuilder Charles Atlas. The photo of Jesus and the adulteress that Hustler wouldn’t run.

Maybe by reading some of these articles and essays, you’ll realize that you’re not the only one who has experienced altered states of consciousness during sex, that other people name their sexy bits, that at least one other person in the world gets an erotic charge from popping pimples.

The subject of sex is practically infinite, and it touches on almost every other aspect of existence - religion, language, politics, law, health, death, art, literature, humor, history, love, violence, psychology, money, lies, truth… Everything we know about it may not be wrong, but we sure don’t know much.


Editor’s Introduction, by Russ Kick, to Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong

Signal boost for an amazing book I’m reading (via luffnstuff)

Putting this book on my to read list.

(via fuckyeahsexeducation)

(Source: love-in-transit, via fuckyeahsexeducation)

"If your butthole likes having things in it, go forth and enjoy. If it doesn’t, then you should probably listen to your body and leave your anus to its main purpose of excreting waste. If you’re trying to placate a boyfriend who won’t stop nagging you about fucking you in the ass, then he himself is an asshole, and I’d suggest he go fuck himself."

Stoya, on the will to perform (via asgardian-feminist)


(via manhattan-avocado)

(Source: montecervesa, via fuckyeahsexpositivity)

"Abstinence-only sex educators, embarrassing New York Times columnists named Ross, and people threatened by a partner’s greater experience, insecure about their own lack of sexual experience, or worried they have too much sexual experience all have something in common. They see sex as math, as a calculation where a woman is diminished by having multiple partners and experiences but an inexperienced man is also diminished if he cannot surmount or keep up with her number of sex acts & partners therefore true love is disappearing from the world and the species is doomed. That’s why they are obsessed with people’s number of sexual partners and looking for the threshold where you get to call someone a name that means you think they are less human. I want to yell at them that sex is not math, it’s a story. It can be a good story no matter how and where you start. It’s a story anyone can tell with anyone else, as long as everyone is of age and willing. I want to tell them, you can fuck none of the people, you can fuck ALL the people, and when love finds you, it will shine for you like a jewel. You will know it for what it is and you will deserve it no matter what your math looks like."

— Captain Awkward, “I want to try ALL THE THINGS with my new sex partner, but I’m worried my enthusiasm will make it weird.” (via fuckyeahsexpositivity)

"I have educated myself about feminism, patriarchy and gender politics just as you have, and I do not believe that all porn always has a positive effect on humanity, or is always a positive experience for performers. However, I think that just as it is possible for humans to have consensual sexual experiences that are not inherently exploitative, it is possible to record those experiences in a respectful way. Feminist porn is no less impossible than feminist sex, and I think as a political movement we’ve moved on from Dworkin’s idea that “violation is a synonym for intercourse.” Sexuality is personally and socially complex, and so is porn. As feminists, both are possible."

— Pandora Blake (On not being exploited | Spanked, Not Silenced)

(via fuckyeahsexpositivity)

"Men celebrated our sexual liberation — our willingness to freely give and enjoy blow jobs and group sex, our willingness to experiment with anal penetration — but ultimately many males revolted when we stated that our bodies were territories that they could not occupy at will. Men who were ready for female sexual liberation if it meant free pussy, no strings attached, were rarely ready for feminist female sexual agency. This agency gave us the right to say yes to sex, but it also empowered us to say no."

— bell hooks, Communion: The Female Search for Love (via a-golden-lasso-of-my-own)

(via bemusedlybespectacled)




Excuse me while I draw cuties having safe, consensual sex :>

Why can’t there be more art like this, absolutely perfect <333

AHHH!! I’m in loooove with this!! LOVE!!!!<3

(via fuckyeahsexpositivity)

"We talk about how our knees don’t bend this way or that, how we feel bad with our clothes off, how we need to be touched, how you must never close your fingers around our necks; we talk sheepishly or confidently about genital configurations and mobility aids, we inform our partners about allergies, precautions and protections, about medical histories and abuses and exes and fantasies. We, the people who have sex while owning bodies and histories, have sex while having Crohn’s and Asperger’s and Klinefelter’s, while having celiac and lupus, while being fat, with our survival stories, with our cancer, with our scars. We have sex even if societies don’t think we’re sexy – fat, old, gay, disabled, dirty, sick, poor, unbeautiful, radical, revolutionary, STD-having – we have sex. Years ago my oldest dearest friend and I were discussing her girlfriend, and the dark line of hair that runs down from her navel – called a “Happy Trail” in boys. We called it her Pleasure Highway. Some of us have Pleasure Highways that will frighten off the weak. Our Pleasure Highways take up space. We take up space. Your genital herpes is upsetting and painful, but by God, Dental Dams, we are vast – we contain multitudes – we will find room."

Elodie under glass.

From Todays captain awkward. http://captainawkward.com/2013/06/03/484-how-do-i-minimize-embarrassment-when-telling-a-partner-that-i-have-a-body-and-a-past/


I think understanding of sexual consent—what it is, why it matters—is sorely lacking in society and crucially important.

These two really, really need to go together. If abstinence-only sex ed is like driver’s ed without talking about cars, then sex ed without talking about consent is like driver’s ed where they show you the gas and the brake, but assume you’ll pick up all the “how to follow traffic laws so you don’t kill people” bits on your own.


Yes, yes, yes, a thowsund teims YESSSSS. Cliff over at The Pervocracy nails it again. (via evaporites)

Cliff is wonderful. :3


(via fuckyeahsexpositivity)

(via fuckyeahsexpositivity)


What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive

  • I think freedom of sexuality is something that we all need and very few of us have
  • I think sexual pleasure is a legitimate thing to want and ethically pursue
  • I do not judge people for the (consensual) sex that they have or want
  • I will…

An Open Letter to Some Sex Positivists

Hi There,

First, let me say that I appreciate the work you do.  Providing people with info about sex is important, and I’m always glad to see other people doing it.

But we’ve got a problem.  Actually, we have several problems.

I follow a number of you on facebook because hey, I’m a young lady who wants to teach people about sex, and you are slightly older ladies who’ve made a career of doing just that.  And we’re all champions of sex positivity, which as we all know is a bastion of shiny rainbow orgasms and acceptance.

Yeah, no.

First off, look around us.  I am noticing a distinct lack of folks of color and queer folks.  This tells me three things are possibly occurring. 1) You are actively working to exclude these groups from this community. 2) You are not explicitly excluding them, but you are pushing them so far to the margins and privileging white, straight, cis voices that to the casual observer other groups do not appear to exist. 3)  There are issues within the sex positive movement that our privilege is blinding us to, but that POC and Queer people have spotted a mile off.  So they’ve gone and made their own communities in an attempt to avoid those issues.

I’m willing to bet points 2 and 3 are the most likely explanation.  Especially since, when I do run across critiques of the sex positive movement from marginalized folks, I see far too many of you jumping on them for being negative or sensitive.  This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.  If you are trying to build a movement that is inclusive, you need to listen to people when they tell you that something you are doing is problematic.

My other concern is that there is a distinct lack of critical or radical thinking in some corners of the sex positive movement.  I know you think that, just by talking about vibrators and vaginas in a public forum you are fighting against oppression and patriarchy.  And I think, to a certain extent, you are.  But you can talk about vibrators and still reinforce a damaging status quo.

Don’t believe me?

Remember “Steak and Blow-Job Day?”  A day whose whole function seems to be reinforcing the idea that men and women are inherently different in terms of there sexual and romantic needs. A day that oozes bad gender stereotypes with a dash of heteronormativity thrown in for good measure.  You were a little too quick to embrace it, too happy for an excuse to say blow-job on Facebook.  Who has time to wonder if this is reinforcing bad gender norms, we get to talk about blow jobs (tee-hee, aren’t we so naughty and subversive)!?

Or, worse, the fact that all of you changed your profile pictures to those damned HRC equal signs during the start of the DOMA/Prop 8 hearings.  I won’t go into the issues with the HRC here, because people far more affected by their nonsense than I am have written eloquent pieces explaining it.  But the very fact that you do not know any better is troubling to me.  You consider yourselves allies, that much is clear, yet you appear to only have a cursory knowledge of issues within the queer community.  You are people who are supposed to be knowledgeable in issues of sex,sexuality, and gender.  You need to be more actively and critically engaged than this.

So, why did I write this?  Shockingly, it’s not just to rant at those of you who are bothering me.  I wrote it because I’m hoping some of you will see this and listen.  Because I really believe that the sex positive movement has a lot to offer in terms of advocacy and activism, and there are some organizations that are succeeding in that.  But if we let ourselves become too insular a community, too resistant to critique or to critiquing the discourses around us, we are not going to do as much good as we could.  We’ll just be chicks with vibrators, and nothing else.

"We believe that pleasure is your birthright and every adult deserves safe access to trusted information, quality products and resources to explore sexual health, because sexual health is an integral part of your overall health."

Jackie Strano, executive VP of Good Vibrations

Check out the entire interview I did with her here:http://www.theaggie.org/2013/04/11/feels-so-good/


There are a lot of messages floating in the cultural ether about what you’re supposed to like in terms of sex. It seems that you’re supposed to only dabble in the really “dirty” stuff to prove that you’re not, like, totally boring. But don’t be too into the dirty stuff, because that’s just weird and icky.

Yeah, no. Be as kinky as you want, be as vanilla you want. As long as you and your partner(s) are safe, consenting and happy with what you do, who gives a damn if someone else thinks it’s too weird or not weird enough?



My last column for the Aggie. 


Brilliant checklist to determine if your healthcare provider is sex-positive. Part of our parenting dream team is health professionals who share our values. The Canadian Federation for Sexual Health did an excellent job with this.

(via fuckyeahsexpositivity)