Think sex-positive

Sex on Tuesday

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.