Since this is Globe’s final edition for the semester, this week’s article is intended as a capstone for all the weird, the wobbly, and the no-holds-barred places we’ve been with “The Birds, the Bees and Getting Jiggy”. Sex positivity is a topic I’ve danced around and implied in every article, but I think it deserves proper attention since spreading sex positivity is the whole purpose of this column.
So what is it?
In essence, sex positivity is an attitude where sex is regarded as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable and fun and great. We can be sex positive by embracing our sexualities, and trying to reduce societal stigma and shame. Being sex positive also means being concerned about safety – both reproductive health (STIs and all that jazz) as well as our emotional and mental safety (consent, being ready for sex etc.).
So, you think everyone should be getting jiggy all the time? All over the place?
Sex positivity isn’t about encouraging people to have sex. More the opposite: if someone doesn’t want to have sex for whatever reason (religious, cultural, emotional etc.), the sex positive crowd will stand there with banners saying ‘WE SUPPORT YOU’. However if someone does want to have sex, and then goes out and has that sex in a cool, consensual and kind fashion, the sex positive banners will still say ‘WE SUPPORT YOU’.
Why is this important?
Sex is a pretty big part of life (an essential part of life, in fact). However, our society can warp it into something that shames men, controls women, and makes people who don’t fit within the lines feel bad. Sex positivity is about reclaiming this. It’s about looking at the shitty, dangerous, sad and shameful parts of sex and trying to reduce them for our communal well being.
A brief history of sex positivity
The term sex positive was first used by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich when looking at how different societies viewed sex. He classified some as ‘sex-positive’ which means they view sexuality as good and healthy, whereas others were ‘sex-negative’ which means they sought to regulate and repress their sexualities. Modern sex positivity spawned out of the ‘free love’ movement. Free love actually originated way earlier than the trippy 1960s. There were writers in the early 1900s talking about how women and men had an equal right to sexual pleasure and to have relationships that weren’t governed by law. It got more hectic in the 60s, where millions of hippies began to preach about the power of love and the beauty of sex. Ultimately, sex positivity is about living in a world that was only sexually liberated a few decades ago. There’s still a lot of deep-running prejudices and beliefs that exist in our society, and we want to deconstruct them for maximum jigginess and fun and emotional wellness.