Why your sex positivity is not.

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

One thing I’ve gotten pretty tired of is the phenomenon in the sex positive communities of having really sex-, gender-, and orientation-negative language dressed up and exhibited as acceptable behavior.

I went to a party a while back, and the guy that interrupted my conversation to chat with my (male gendered) friend went off into a conversation where he referred to women as “bitches”. Not in an angry way – that “She’s such a bitch!” way – but in a matter-of-fact manner that dismissed a whole gender. Had you asked him, I’d guess that he would not have said he was sex negative – in fact, it was a party in which sexuality is not just appreciated, but encouraged. I’m also fairly certain that it’s a colloquial term that, in some parts of the community, is totally acceptable. The problem is? It’s not.

Few folks raise a fuss when the term “vanilla” (as used as a synonym for unenlightened sexuality) is brought up. It’s boring, and it’s old, and if you’re doing vanilla, why – you just might be better off having no sex at all. Sex positive, right?

And while we’re on that topic – not everyone enjoys fucking. There is nothing wrong with having desires that differ from the norm, right? Unless, of course, it’s not even wanting to have sex, because that’s just not okay for anyone. Something is obviously wrong with you if you don’t want to screw.

I got called out on my offhanded use of referring to monogamous folk & Christians in less-than-accepting ways a few years ago. I can’t imagine how hard it was for those folks to do that – but I’m glad that they did. I put myself out there as a sex educator, and I need to be able to stand by that by continually seeking to make my communication as clear and affirming as possible. And yeah, it’s painful for me to be corrected – but it’s probably a lot less painful than it is to hear words that make you feel like you’re less-than from someone who is speaking from a place of expertise or authority.

If you are putting yourself out there as sex positive, listen to what you’re saying, especially if you’re in a subculture that’s suffered the slings and arrows of slander. It doesn’t make us suddenly either classy or holier-than-thou when we use terms that cause pain in others – even as a joke. We also don’t know how loaded terms that some of us use affectionately with friends – queer, slut, whore – will be received when someone else hears them.

Words have power. Wield them carefully.

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