SEX+STL Discussion Group: Sex-Positive: What Does It Mean?

Team SEX+STL: We're here to help!

by David Wraith

When we started Sex Positive St. Louis in 2010, some people heard the words “sex” and “positive” put together and assumed we were an organization for people living with HIV. Some suggested that we change the name. We decided early on that the term “sex positive” was so powerful and meaningful that it was better to educate people as to what it meant than to run away from the potential confusion.

Okay, so what does sex positive mean? If you asked all four co-founders of Sex Positive St. Louis what “sex positive” means, you’d probably get four different answers. Hell, you might get two different answers from me if you asked me on two consecutive days. One definition that I really like comes from rope bondage artist and traveling sex educator, Gray Dancer, who said, “Sex negative means ‘don’t do anything you’re ashamed of.’ Sex positive means ‘don’t be ashamed of anything you do.’”

I always associated the phrase sex positive with feminist writers and sex workers I was exposed to in the 90s like Susie Bright, Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen and Patrick Califia, but the phrase goes back to at least the 1950s when it was coined by Austrian American psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich. His Wikipedia entry is worth a read if you have a moment.

What I’ve discovered in researching the history of the term is that dictionary definitions, while useful, are less important than what being sex positive means to you. That will be the subject of our discussion group this Sunday. Please join us at the LGBT Center of St. Louis for Sex-Positive: What Does It Mean? Maybe you’ll walk away with your own sex positive mission statement and brand new sex positive bucket list.

SEX+STL Discussion Group: Sex-Positive: What Does It Mean?

Sun, April 15, 2012, 3:00pm – 4:30pm

LGBT Center of St. Louis

4337 Manchester, St. Louis, MO

3 Responses to “SEX+STL Discussion Group: Sex-Positive: What Does It Mean?

  • I was sad that our little changing banner of what sex-positive means disappeared from our website. But then I found it HERE! on the about About page: http://sexstl.com/about/ Refresh and enjoy!

    To me, being sex-positive is about accepting yourself and others for who they are.

    Pretty awesome that we are having a SlutWalk meeting and this talk in the same weekend. We += community!

  • I absolutely LOVE that we have a Sex Positive Community here in St.Louis. Keep up the great work.

  • I’m unfortunately going to miss the discussion, but figured I’d add a little here instead.

    Sex positive is:
    * Being able to say no to sex you don’t want, say yes to sex you do want, and get no shaming or guilt trips or pressure for either choice.
    * Social acceptance that sexuality is a human right that we’re born with, and it’s natural and just fine, whether it is the ‘normal’ sort or far more diverse.
    * Respect for other people’s feelings about their bodies, their gender, their sexuality, and their intimate emotions.

    * Age-appropriate, factually accurate information about how sex works, how relationships work, and how to explore and discover oneself.
    * Respect for children’s sexuality, without adult interference, but also without diminishing/ignoring that children have their own feelings about their bodies and minds. Providing them safe space to grow up in, and keeping their hearts and bodies safe until the teens years, when they are old enough to begin stepping into that responsibility themselves.
    * An appropriate blend of privacy and supervision for teens / young adults in the dating age range. (There’s huge debate around this, and I think there’s not just one right answer; it’s cultural and contextual.)

    * Reducing social shaming, so that individuals can explore their own bodies and what makes them feel good, in ways that are respectful and safe. Not having to hide/deny masturbation. Not getting caught up in social scripts about women never having a desire to initiate sex. Not shaming the natural feelings that are part of being biologically human.

    * Teaching good communication strategies for asking for consent, negotiating difficulties, resolving confusion, and speaking in plain, clear words about desire. Being able to say cock and pussy without getting tangle-tongued or going silent. Being able to ask for what we want, and not crumble to pieces if a partner says no.