What’s wrong w being sex positive..


So many things.

I am sex-critical, rather than sex-negative, meaning that I believe no one makes sexual choices without the influence of the social fabric of their lives. If you are a member of a strict religious community that enforces heteronormativity, and you are a lesbian, you will likely grow up feeling shame about this. If you are a straight woman and grow up in mainstream, advertisement-soaked western society, you will grow up learning to internalize the male gaze and try to manipulate your body to appeal to men by shaving, sucking in, plumping up, blowing out, painting on, etc. I want to see a world where all people are able to explore and grow into their sexualities freely, without coercion to be a certain way and without shame for who they love.

However, because society influences all things, that means that the people in power have more control over aspects of sexuality than those without power. That is why, in “sex-positive” circles, everything is always about the dudes and the penises and convincing women to go farther than they want, faster than they want, with more men than they want, etc. Sex-positive men and women praise themselves for being more “open” than everyone else, for being “adventurous” and not “vanilla.” In theory, there is nothing wrong with a poly relationship, for example, but in practice, because men hold power over women, they are the ones likely to benefit from such arrangements.

The saturation of porn in mainstream society is driving some of the sex-positive movement–everyone and their dad watches porn these days, and young boys are seeing more and more hard core porn before they ever have a personal sexual experience with someone else. That kind of influence is making more and more young girls the targets of harassment from boys (to take nudes, to give blowjobs, to have anal sex they don’t want, etc.) in the name of “openness” and “sexual freedom.” I say it’s not freedom if you feel coerced into performing sex acts.

Consent is a tricky thing. Consent can easily be coerced, bought, or manipulated by men who target women and girls who are young, who have low self esteem, who fear rejection. Things like DDLG kinks, rape porn, BDSM in general all contribute to and are products of an overwhelming rape culture where it is sexy for women to be submissive, young, hairless, dumb, and under control by men. What is positive or revolutionary about “consensual non-consent”? That’s just how things always have been, but with “sex-posi” women’s stamp of approval. That’s just taking us back to the day when it wasn’t rape for a husband to force his wife to have sex when she didn’t want to.

I’m not saying no one should have sex that they like. I’m saying we must evaluate the kinds of sex people are having under ostensible “sex positivity” and see if they are truly free, fun experiences that equally benefit men and women. Unfortunately, I see a lot less coming from that movement promoting emotional sexual bonds, gentle and mutual affection, women’s pleasure on equal terms with men’s pleasure, a commitment to non-violence, etc. I see too much emphasis on making rape fun, on making pedophilia fun, on making beating women and getting off on it fun, on making sexualized racism fun, etc.

For more information on sex-critical perspectives, see the following:

Feminist Current

Feminist Current again


XOJane (on choice feminism)


Feminist Frequency

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