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.
I love you all.
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