Sex-Positive Celibacy

Here’s a little-known fact about me: This past June, on my thirtieth birthday, I took a one-year vow of celibacy and am considering maintaining abstinence until I enter into a serious, long-term commitment (but not necessarily marriage—which is another blog post entirely). This fact is little known because this is the first time I’ve told anyone outside my own brain, because what if I fail? Then everyone will… honestly probably not care, but I’ll still feel bad.

But, it’s not really a vow if I’m not allowing myself to be held accountable (and it’s a needed fact for this blog post to make sense), so there it is.

This might come as a shock to some of the people who know me, because I have always considered myself to be sex-positive. In fact, I still do.

There’s this pervasive idea that being sex-positive means always being willing to have sex. The words “sex-positive” and “abstinence” are considered polar opposite. The two are mutually exclusive and cannot exist at the same time.

That’s just silly.

Of course, I know there are going to be people who hear that I’ve taken a vow of celibacy (however short) or am considering abstaining until I commit myself to someone and will brand me a traitor to feminism. The assumption is that I’ve obviously internalized harmful anti-sex mindsets. After all, what kind of person really doesn’t want to have sex? Or worse, decides not to have sex, even when they want to?

(Asexual people? Personal autonomy? Madness.)

The other assumption is that, because this is what works for me, I must want to cram it down the throats of every other person I come in contact with.


Let me make something clear: I don’t care if you have sex. I really don’t. Your sex life doesn’t affect me at all (as long as you’re not trying to include me, of course).

Let me make something else clear: Whatever my opinion on sex as a practice is—positive or negative—is completely irrelevant to my being sex-positive.

Whether I think sex is good, bad, or grey; whether I think it’s something that should happen between two people in a marriage, any number of committed partners, or a whole group of anonymous people in a dungeon; whether I think it should be done in missionary, or with the lights on, or with ropes and blindfolds, people are going to have sex.

No group of people—no religious organization, no government organization, no social organization—is going to stop people from having sex if they want to have sex.

So, my personal opinion on the morality of the matter is a moot point; it’s gonna happen. If it’s gonna happen, I want it to happen in a way that is as safe as possible and respectful to all involved.

To me, sex-positivity isn’t about me personally thinking all sex is good (and this is true of everyone; everyone has their personal limits). To me, sex-positivity is about creating a space (and hopefully an entire culture) where people are not shamed for choosing to have sex, where others’ personal (private) opinion on the matter, doesn’t negatively impact anyone else’s private lives. Where people can have sex, in whatever way(s) they please, and feel safe and respected while they do. Where people who want to have sex have access to things like birth control and disease prevention, without having to share those details with a thousand people before the doctor will even see them.

Sex-positivity also means that people shouldn’t be forced or coerced into sex if they feel it’s not right for them—in a moment or in general.

Sex isn’t something I personally find beneficial to my life. I find sex—the desire for it, the attempts to bring it into my life—distracting. I have done… just stupid things out of the desire for sex. I’ve made a fool of myself, jumping through hoops trying to get people I wanted to have sex with to notice me. I stayed in a relationship with someone who hurt me very badly because the sex was good.

Nothing about that is positive. I would much rather not have sex than have an unhealthy relationship with it.

And that’s what my sex-positivity is about: Creating a space where people who want to have sex can develop a healthy relationship with it, whether I’m one of them or not.

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6 thoughts on “Sex-Positive Celibacy”

  1. I agree with you. As long as the sex is between consenting adults–I don’t really have the F’s to waste on worrying about other’s sex lives.

    I went through a period where I just stopped wanting sex when I got into my mid-thirties. It was a really strange feeling for me and I actually ended up going to the doctor for it because I was afraid my testosterone levels were off. However, it just ended up that I was over having an unhealthy relationship with sex and sexual partners.

    We all need a healthy relationship and view of sex–but that doesn’t mean we have to be doing it all the time if we just don’t like what that might entail.

    Maybe it’s getting older. Maybe it’s maturity. Maybe it’s changing hormones. Maybe it’s just getting tired of all the nonsense that can come with it.

    The most important thing is knowing who you are as a sexual being and not compromising that or apologizing for it.

    You do you, blog buddy. Anyone else can suck it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve had a fluctuating sex-drive for years and for a while actually identified as asexual (so I get especially salty when people erase ace identities in their “what kind of person doesn’t want sex???” arguments). It took me a really long time to be comfortable with that, especially coming from a background in sex-positive feminism where the concept of not wanting sex in general (rather than learning to say no in individual moments) was never even touched on. Seriously, for the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me for not being interested in sex like my friends were, like I had been brainwashed by the puritanical patriarchy.

      When sex-positivity/sex-positive feminism doesn’t include (and may even shame) people who choose not to have sex or who lack an interest in sex, it can be so incredibly damaging. I do not ever want anyone to feel like the two can’t coexist.

      Like you said, the important thing is knowing what you’re about and embracing it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think it’s so important for any type of information given about human sexuality to include “sometimes ya’ just don’t want to—and that’s okay, too!” As long as you’re physically and mentally healthy, then enjoy having spare time to pursue other things.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Okay, Adie, I tried to send you a post either last night or the night before that — time’s a blur right now — and I thought I hit post comment, but, apparently, that’s not the case. Let me try this again! I think that your post is incredibly important because most things in life are hyperplayed up (usually to sell some b.s.) and the truth gets lost or distorted and then people feel inadequate or like there’s something wrong with them because seemingly everyone and everything is telling them what they’re supposed to think and feel and do, except that’s not their truth, so there’s that disconnect! Sex is so personal and as you journey through life, you change and evolve and so does your desire and even preferences. Again, like so many things, sex is on a spectrum. It is what it is regardless of what other people want it to be! So, I’m glad that you are making a statement and sticking up for what is right for you at this moment. We each have to do that in all aspects of our lives! Good for you, Adie! Great post! PREACH, WOMAN!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Mona! This comment means a lot to me! I agree that messages and truth gets distorted. Especially on the internet where everyone can see everything you do and there’s this pressure to be infallible and present this perfect image of who you are and what you’re about–we often don’t allow people the space to shift and learn and change. It’s important to me that people know it’s okay to not fit into the mold and that just because something isn’t right for you doesn’t mean that you can’t still be part of the group!

      Thank you again for commenting! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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