I don’t think I’ve read a better description or example of sex positivity before. It’s clear and concise and isn’t hinged upon using “positive” speech despite the sex-positive name:
Although fewer people would say that “I think anal sex is amazing” is a sex-negative statement, I consider it to be just as problematic as “I think anal sex is gross.” What makes something like this sex-negative isn’t whether one uses a positive or negative adjective. It’s that saying these sorts of things neglects the diversity of sexual experiences and pleasures.
Simply put, these sorts of things aren’t true. Anal sex is gross for some people and amazing for some people and boring for some people and exciting for some people. No matter what word you use to finish the sentence, you’re leaving out many people’s experiences and that is what makes it sex-negative.
On the other hand, when you say something like “I enjoy/dislike/fill-in-the-blank anal sex,” you’re practicing mindful speech. You’re explicitly recognizing that your experience is your own. You’re not making a sweeping statement and you’re not claiming that anyone else should have the same response that you have. It doesn’t matter whether the word you use is positive or negative in this example, either.
Sex-positivity isn’t about enjoying every possible way to have sex. Sex-positivity isn’t about only using positive words when talking about sex.
Sex-positivity is about making room for different people to have wildly different experiences. And in order to do so, we can practice using language that makes room for that. One of the best (and most difficult) ways to do that is to own our experiences and try to not make sweeping statements. It’s simultaneously quite simple and incredibly difficult, which is why so many people seem to not understand it. Well, that and the fact that there aren’t a lot of examples of mindful speech in the media- it doesn’t make for good soundbites. [emphasis mine]
This is from a post by Charlie Glickman on Good Vibrations Magazine called Owning Your Words: Sex-Positivity, Mindful Speech, and Why Some People Don’t Get It. I highly encourage you to read the entire article to get all of it in context, though what I quoted above is the crux of it. He has other awesome points that are just as important, however, so go read. I’ll be here when you get back.
Why does this matter? I’ve considered myself sex-positive for quite some time and this distinction is an important one. I’ve heard people saying that “sex-positivity” is some sort of trend word, which in some ways I think is true. There seems to be a big trend in those who write about sex and sexuality1 to adopt the term “sex-positive” even when it’s clear they know nothing about what it means.
Of course, being sex-positive and confronting your own internalized sex-negativity2 is a continual process, it’s not something you earn like a merit badge that you can then flash at people to prove that you are sex-positive. Saying you’re sex-positive only gets you so far if you don’t walk the walk. I love his point that it’s not about always saying something positive either, despite “positive” being right in the term itself. I think this is something people get hung up on and a very important point to make.
It may be some sort of trendy word to some, but for others of us it is something we strive for.