Think sex-positive

Sex on Tuesday

nadia.web

One of the best things that ever happened to me was learning how to be sex-positive, thanks to some of the wonderful people I have met at Berkeley. Sex-positive isn’t a term that most people are familiar with. But it signifies exactly what it says — acknowledging that sex can be a positive force in our lives. Look it up, learn and be amazed. Sex-positive is a concept, a culture and a state of mind that offers a happier, healthier and generally more positive way of looking at sex. It is a view based on acceptance, communication, zero judgment and healthy sexuality.

But just because people have sex doesn’t mean they uphold positive attitudes about it. Despite increased acceptance of sex outside heterosexual marriages, there are still many disparaging and negative sentiments that keep individuals from appreciating their sexuality. Shifting your view on sex to be more tolerant can also change the way that others view it and how people view each other for the better.

Sex-positivity promotes the view that sex is healthy for people and that people can experience their sexuality however they like, so long as they engage in safe and consensual practices. Good sex can enhance people’s lifestyles and their self-esteem. Nobody looks back on life and says, “Damn, I really wish I hadn’t had all that awesome sex back in the day.” Sex-positivity recognizes the fact that most human beings are naturally inclined to have sex and that there’s nothing wrong with doing the deed — or not doing it.

Being sex-positive means respecting the sexual freedom, choices and lifestyles of others. It eradicates any hierarchies that assert one kind of sexual practice as better or “more righteous” than another.

One of the most salient goals of the sex-positive movement is the creation of safe social environments in which people can communicate and learn about sex. Open communication means acknowledging both the positive and negative aspects of sex and informing people through honest discussion. It’s our right to know about how to be safe and maintain good sexual health. Yet people often have to repress personal inquiries because talking about sex is considered inappropriate or they are scared of being judged if they bring it up.

Everyone has the right to abstain, but it’s also necessary to know how to handle sexual encounters. Maybe if people were more knowledgeable about the realities and consequences of sex from truthful and supportive discussions, they would know how not to feel bad about themselves after an unfortunate encounter or know how to prevent pregnancy scares.

This acceptance and openness also creates environments where people aren’t scared or ashamed of having sex, which is something everybody would benefit from. It sucks to get judged and feel bad about yourself for doing something that you, along with numerous others, really enjoy. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to talk openly about your awesome weekend sexcapades without fear of being judged?

Our culture can be a very “sex-negative” one in which, rather than allowing people to bond over something they all enjoy, social norms favor the act of putting others down for having sex. This is also known as “slut-shaming.” There’s a tendency to make moral judgments about individuals, mostly women, who have sex, especially if they do it “too often.”

It’s impossible not to bring up the double standard that blatantly values the sexual freedom of men over that of women. Female “sluts” are dehumanized and seen as unworthy individuals who have no reason to be taken seriously. The fact that the woman in question has feelings and a nonsexual agenda often gets ignored.

The amount of sex someone engages in tells you nothing about his or her personality. A person’s sexual practices are no sound basis for judging moral character. “Sluts” may be saving human lives or mentoring underprivileged children during the time they spend not having sex. The right amount of sex is subjective and varies. Nobody has the authority to criticize someone else’s lifestyle choices.

Don’t be a part of a culture that upholds discriminatory and sexist attitudes. It’s extremely insensitive to berate a person’s intimate experiences. Doing away with the hateful, hypocritical sentiments and adopting a more accepting attitude will make you a happier person.

Once you stop judging others for their sexual behavior, you’ll find that you become more tolerant toward your own sexual self. It feels good to internalize the belief that you deserve to be respected for your personal decisions and that you’re not doing anything wrong in doing what feels right for you.

The sex-positive message is not about having rampant sex. Rather, it is that people should feel good about doing whatever sexual deeds make them happy.

Contact Nadia Cho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @nadiacho.

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  • UKGuest

    I just wanted to post from the UK saying that I really enjoyed this column. Sex can be a positive force in lives, regardless of gender or other variables (sexuality, background etc).

    I do not understand why so many people below are implying you are over-riding consent or implying that people who think this way will get STDs, given you explicitly state, “sex is healthy for people and that people can experience their sexuality however they like, so long as they engage in safe and consensual practices.”.

    And I totally agree that positive experiences are key. I have regretted only one sexual encounter- that I went into for the wrong reasons. Whereas I have also had what people would consider ‘casual sex’ (e.g. I was not in a relationship or love match with the person) which was fun and fullfilling and a positive experience.

    I, and my social group, believe in frank discussion of sex, as it is a natural, human biological thing, with no judgement, Only encouragement of safety and doing it for the right reasons. I hope to pass this view on to any children I may have in future.

    A refute to a couple of comments which make me truly sad: 1) “The object of sex is to create a chemical addiction of two people to each other. Promiscuity permanently damages that pair bond creation.” It does not. This is not scientifically accurate and is not how neurochemicals work (I work in research). 2)”Women have sex with men who are worthy of them. A woman who has sex with many men must therefore have low value.” There are many, many fantastic men in the world so, no, I don’t think that sleeping with quite a few men has anything to do with lowering standards. Furthermore I refuse to believe my value is based on how… un used I am? What am I- a car?! Also deeply worried by a commenter who thinks 5 sexual partners is a lot…

    I appreciate many USA commenters will have a religious background, which I do not, and therefore may come to different conclusions. However, I really appreciate articles like this :)

  • Nunya Beeswax

    “Sex-positive isn’t a term that most people are familiar with.”

    Translation : I had never heard the term until I came to Berkeley.

  • adsahdj

    Men don’t hate you for being ‘sex-positive’–they just see you as somebody to get their rocks off with until they find a respectable woman (and by that, I mean a non-promiscuous woman) to marry.

    You can justify it all you want with academic jargon or appeals to political correctness and the non-judgmentalism that has become so popular in our postmodern, post-truth society. But you can’t change human nature, particularly the part of human nature where a man wants to have something, someone, of his own, someone who he does not have to share with five other men.

  • http://www.facebook.com/svendlarose Svend la Rose

    1. The object of sex is to create a chemical addiction of two people to each other. Promiscuity permanently damages that pair bond creation.

    2. Women have sex with men who are worthy of them. A woman who has sex with many men must therefore have low value.

  • TITS OR GTFO

    If you’re so sex positive, why don’t you post nudes as part of your articles?

  • Just Saying

    Seems like the writer didn’t really like the comments about her sexual activity in previous articles…

  • Anonymous

    There is nothing in this article that hasn’t been said countless times before. Thanks for the summary?

  • Twinkle

    I completely agree! And yeah, most of the people commenting below completely missed the point, which just goes to show how right you are when you said many people uphold discriminatory and sexist attitudes and can’t appreciate sexuality. Here’s to hoping those attitudes will change one day.

  • peepsqueek

    Sex is great if the having it are physically and mentally healthy. It would not hurt to have something in your heart for the other person either. If you are mis-shapened, have poor hygiene, under the influence, feel pressured, feel guilty, feel used, or with some one you know is of bad character, then what is the point? If you have to choose between you self-worth and an orgasm, ask yourself which one last longer. And remember, there are 2 million unwanted children born every year, and we know the cost and the statistics on these children. It takes a lifetime to build a life, and while sex does not keep you on the right track, it can definitely be the cause of throwing you off track.

  • sigh.

    So cliche. So boring. Such a waste of our time.

  • Guest

    Title should be “Think STD-positive”

  • g

    This is great — for many of us this might seem standard but I think for many other people (i.e. in the comments below) it needs to be explained and reiterated. Many of the people commenting seem to be missing the point — there’s nothing wrong with sex itself, as long as it’s safe and consensual.

    Thanks for a great article–clearly a lot of people needed it.

  • constructive criticism

    I find this column a little boring. The writing is somewhat stilted too. A lot of the sentences seem to simply reword the preceding sentence, as if the writer didn’t have enough thoughts on the subject to fill the column space. Sex-positivity is a well-worn topic to me, and this column does nothing more than briefly describe it- no new thoughts or stories. For all of these reasons, it reads like a passably good high school book report. I hope these thoughts aren’t too harsh, but sex columns should be fun to read!

    • anonymous

      i agree, the writing style is difficult to get through. kia was fun to read, something you kinda looked forward to. she knew how to reel the audience in.

  • SEXXXY

    i think the point of being sex-positive isn’t being a slut, but actually feeling comfortable with your body and your sexual side to know why the other gender appreciates it.

  • Yeah

    I applaud you for finally writing a mature, more objective article than in previous weeks. I can’t say I agree with you at all, but the actual writing is good.

    • sigh.

      LOL no it wasn’t! She rewrote the same sentiment over and over, paragraph by paragraph. Who the hell calls this writing?

      Could’ve been summed up in a few sentences: Have sex, don’t feel bad about it. Done.

      • Calipenguin

        “Just do it”

  • So young and naive this one is

    Yes, STD’s are AOK

    “Sluts” may be saving human lives or mentoring underprivileged children during the time they spend not having sex.

    you can replace “sluts” with any other bad name
    “coke addicts”
    even “serial killers”

  • M

    its articles like this that cause love to really lose its meaning. Sex is intimate, and to treat it as something to merely satisfy an urge seems cheap…There is a reason why people feel bad about themselves after a regretful sexual encounter, its because they gave away the deepest part of themselves, for one night of satisfaction, with absolutely no commitment from their partner….To ignore that, and as you preach: “focus on the positives, and ignore the “sex-negative” is just deluding yourself…

    • gary

      gtfo

      • EAT A ZEBRA’S DICK

        Suck a donkey’s ass.

  • I_h8_disqus

    It is because we are humans with feelings that your position doesn’t work, Nadia. Sex isn’t just sex. It is an intimacy that should be based on feelings so that the result is positive. I agree that there shouldn’t be a double standard for men and women. Men should recognize that their sexual actions also include repercussions to their feelings and their ability to have lasting relationships if they ignore feelings. The biggest obstacle to long term relationships in our age is that we don’t take time to get to know each other and to develop feelings. We get to the sexual part much too quickly, and it hurts relationships. From the simple biological perspective, sex releases hormones in men that will affect their ability to develop deeper feelings for women than they already have. Nadia, what is going on in your head so that you think you need to have this sex positive attitude? Most people would much rather have someone to love.

    • M

      absolutely

    • iPosit

      I don’t think sex precludes love, even if you have pseudoscientific evidence to warrant such a claim. There are addicts of all sorts who use the human spirit to overwhelm the captor named neurotransmitter. One really liking sex and its possible varieties does not suddenly lose the inclination for a loved one.

      But Kanye does say, love is cursed by monogamy. So who knows which part of the social structure you subscribe to anyhow?

    • anon

      Can you ever just shut up?

      • I_h8_disqus

        If my comment keeps you from getting laid, you have no one to blame but yourself.

  • Calipenguin

    Sometimes social rules benefit young women who need an excuse not to hook up with a new friend. Maybe a shared interest in comedy clubs is all that the relationship is meant to be. I’m glad Nadia pointed out “there’s nothing wrong with doing the deed — or not doing it” but try telling that to a judgmental guy (or lesbian) who expects sex at the end of every date, and who will call you unpleasant names because he or she thinks “sex-positive” means “always says yes”.

  • fuck you

    boooooooooooooo

  • Nunya Beeswax

    Yeah, because social strictures just kind of exist for no good reason.

    Rude awakening, dead ahead…

    • Crabs

      Hahaha STD central.

  • Guest

    “Don’t be a part of a culture that upholds discriminatory and sexist
    attitudes. It’s extremely insensitive to berate a person’s intimate
    experiences. Doing away with the hateful, hypocritical sentiments and
    adopting a more accepting attitude will make you a happier person.”

    LOL. The name Stan De San Diego comes to mind.