EROTIC MAGAZINE FOR WOMEN AND COUPLES » Sexual Health and Wellness » What is sex positivity – And how can we embrace it?

The first time I masturbated, I used a pencil. It was one of those black and yellow HB pencils with a shiny red tip. My knowledge of sexual pleasure came from the late-night softcore Blue movies that channel 5 used to show after 10 pm, Sexcetera, Exotica Erotica, Emmanuel In Space On Sy-Fy (watched on the lowest possible volume so I could hear when my parents returned and switch the TV back over to more appropriate viewing) and whatever I could glimpse between partially closed fingers when my parents would tell me to close my eyes when intimate scenes would pop up in movies. In all these instances, what I knew of sex was that a man would put his penis inside of you, and it was supposed to feel so good that you released soft, aesthetically pleasing moans and writhed like a snake charmer was playing a tune for you on his flute. The thought of using a pencil had come to me like a stroke of genius; I would put it inside me, and then I, too, would moan (really quietly) and writhe like the girls on TV. You could imagine my sheer disappointment when I didn’t feel anything but a horribly sharp jab to my cervix and wondered what the hell the fuss was about. They had made things going inside of you look so good, but it wasn’t at all. On top of my disappointment was also this intense feeling of shame that I’d just done something so disgusting and perverse that I had no business doing.

About two years after that, my school (an all-girls school) announced that they would be teaching sex education classes. I was giddy with excitement, eager to learn about this stream of pleasure that had evaded me. What I got was a lesson about periods, that sex required a man who you cared about to put his penis inside of you (which I already knew because I was a pencil expert), that he would ejaculate, and that’s how babies were made. Whilst it covered the bare minimum of basics, it served as yet another letdown. I still didn’t know what the big deal was.

Sex-positive is about education

I took sex education upon myself in secret, a haphazard combination of skulking around the adult section of bookstores and reading the Kama Sutra, purchasing erotic fiction (that honestly should not have been sold to me) and then hiding it under my pillow so my parents couldn’t find it, typing in the word ‘porn’ and ‘sex’ into Google and watching the most bizarre things (2 girls 1 cup has scarred us all for life) and my personal favourite: fanfiction sites. I was wholly fascinated and began writing my own erotic stories in books I had acquired from the school supplies cupboard, fervently filling them with tales of glamourous debauchery, which became so popular at school that I became a walking smut library, with my peers itching to rent the books out so they could read the next chapter. We were enamoured by the idea of these glorious (and wildly misinformed) sex lives, but at the same time, if any of us were found to be engaging in the act in real life, we were shamed. The negative attitude around sex was so bad that girls would be taunted and bullied mercilessly for having done something that so many of us were craving. Reputations would be ruined over a blowjob with a boy who liked to kiss and tell, him coming out the victor for engaging in a consensual act, and her thrown to the wolves, reinforcing the need to be ashamed.

My experiences of sexual pleasure

The first time I had an orgasm, it was completely by accident. I was having a *pencil-free* exploration, and it happened upon my clitoris. I had no idea this magical bundle of nerves even existed, and to say I became obsessed with it would be a gross understatement because WOW! I finally understood what all the moaning and writhing was about. You’d think that this would be where things got better for me, but sadly, no. Lack of knowledge around female pleasure meant that I didn’t understand how it was meant to be stimulated. I believed that to bring myself to bliss, I had to press down on it and rub as hard as I could. I eventually ended up with a clitoris that was so badly bruised that I couldn’t get myself off at all and would wait until I was healed, only to start the process all over again. I didn’t have anyone to talk about my masochistic masturbation methods or any reputable resource to figure out where I was going wrong, so I kept it a secret and my shame grew and spilled over into my sexual relationships as I got older. I later discovered BDSM via way of a porn DVD, accidentally making its way into my possession, realised I was really into it, and then had to suppress a whole lot more than janky wanks.

Due to all of the negativity that I was taught about women and sexual pleasure, for a long time, I was afraid to try even the most basic things with my lovers, scared that they would judge me, discard me then announce my indiscretions to the world, dubbing me a ‘hoe’, which would lead to no man wanting to ‘wife’ me. I was so fixated on being ‘wifey material’ that I was blocking my sexual blessings. 

As we have matured, many of us still hold onto these ideals and are having to unlearn toxic sexual rhetoric that has essentially done a lot more harm than good. We’ve been indoctrinated by society at large—from the media, religious, political, and cultural influences, down to our family and friends—that sex is a bad thing, we are only allowed to engage in it under restrictive conditions, and we mustn’t talk about it because it’s impolite. 

What can being sex-positive teach us?

Becoming sex-positive helped me understand that sex is not bad. It’s a natural act that most living things do, so we most definitely should be talking about it. Many of us grew up not talking about it, and now we’re having to spend all this time unlearning and re-educating ourselves about it in our adulthood, which is wonderful because no matter how long it takes you to reach your destination, at least you got there in the end. With the sex-positive movement, the generations under us aren’t having to battle with themselves as much, but remnants of sex negativity are still present.  

Becoming sex-positive altered my life in so many beautiful ways, both in and out of the bedroom. My confidence is the highest it’s ever been, giving me the courage to navigate the world without feeling the need to shrink myself, my communication skills are even better because talking about orgasms and the like makes it easier to have tough conversations and speak up for myself. I’ve learnt so much about how my body functions and how to take care of it, from periods to pleasure. I gave myself permission to wear what I love, feel sexy and enjoy my body; I’m a LOT less judgemental (we love to see it!), and my sex life is absolutely fucking delicious, babe. Sex positivity gave that to me, and that’s why it is now my life’s work to help other people feel the same way so that they can have the amazing sex lives they’ve desired for so long but have been afraid to go after. I do this through creating sex education content, running one of London’s best sex workshops that help you build confidence, remove shame and explore your desires in a fun and safe space, public speaking around the world, providing honest reviews of sexual wellness products so you know what worth your money and time and writing award-winning smutty romances that make you giggle and kick your feet in the air. 

Yet sex positivity is frowned upon, its definition whittled down to encouraging people to have ‘loose morals’ and creating ‘porn addicts’ amongst other taboos. To be sex-positive, to advocate for yourself and others, to be properly educated about your anatomy, how it works and how to look after it across the board (because sex ed is more than periods, babies and STIs). 

Also, being sex-positive is learning about proper hygiene so that you are not giving yourself and others unnecessary infections or being tricked into buying awful products like vaginal washes, tightening gels, toxic lubricants or services that will only increase your chances of catching something or exacerbating your condition. It’s learning about and trying sex toys and aids, which one is right for you, how it can enhance your sex life and which ones to avoid completely, as some can cause serious health risks.

It’s demanding more medical research is done on the female reproductive system to support people with vulvas who are suffering from conditions that are often overlooked, such as Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and more, and challenges racial bias in the medical field to lower the number of higher maternal death rates for marginalised communities. 

It’s helping to put a stop to female genital mutilation, period poverty, sex trafficking, child marriages, laws that dictate what a person with a vulva can and can’t do with their bodies, laws that allow sexual abuse to go by unanswered for and understanding that the levity of said abuse is equally bad across all genders. 

It’s learning effective communication, boundary setting and consent to give you the confidence to speak up when you need to and educate your lovers to be respectful of you and your body. It’s a vessel for confidence building, permission to explore your body and desires to learn what you actually like so that you can have more fulfilling encounters and close the orgasm gap (in a nutshell, straight men climax 95% of the time whilst straight women do not reach climax 75%-80% of the time). Maybe it’s even learning that you don’t have any desires and don’t actually like sex and that this is normal (Asexuals, stand up!). It’s understanding that sexuality is a spectrum and that as long as you are happy, safe, and not hurting yourself or anybody (unless they’ve consented to it) you can do what you like. 

Sex positivity is embracing different relationship structures that work for you because monogamy isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s unburdening yourself from being judgemental against others, which will also have a direct impact on how judgemental you are against yourself. 

It’s stopping violence against the queer communities and standing up for their rights so that people don’t have to die at the hands of others for simply existing in their truth. It’s the building of communities that create safe spaces for people to be who they are. 

It’s supporting the rights of sex workers and championing ethical porn creation because they are human beings and deserve to have a safe working environment and be paid properly just like everybody else. 

It’s devaluing toxic purity culture so that young girls don’t grow up believing that their worth balances precariously on what’s between their legs. It’s creating diverse sex education and erotic content for people of all genders, abilities, ethnicities, ages and sexual preferences. It’s educating ourselves about fetishization. 

I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea now.

Why we need to be sex-positive

Sex positivity is vital and integral to our society and to YOU. It doesn’t mean that you have to get on board with every single eyebrow-raising trend, but it encourages you to educate yourself, be respectful of others, and have them do the same for you.

I love that for us!

Comments & Sharing

One thought on “What is sex positivity – And how can we embrace it?

  1. Well said. I grew up in a ‘hidden-sex’ environment. Not actually sex negative. You weren’t told anything about sex. Nothing about the physical side at all. As a boy I knew nothing about girls’ sexuality or that they could enjoy sex. Nothing about masturbation, I just enjoyed it – a lot – and only very slowly came to the knowledge that others did it as well. What I did experience was the intense attraction to girls, and also some boys, all of which of course had to be kept secret and never discussed. Why? Well, it just wasn’t. I envy the openness young people have today with the internet, I’m not sure that we are yet a wholly sex-positive culture though. Porn may be informative to some extent, but a lot of it ignores the sheer joy of liberating one’s own sexuality.

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