As a sex therapist, psychologist, and sexologist I’m quite familiar with concepts like being “sex positive”. But others may wonder about this “sex positive” term I yap about and weave through my tv show, blog, and lectures? It’s a clinical and social “lens” that aims to not demean or pathologize individual’s relational/sexual choices, interests, and expressions. If you follow any of my work you hear me support polyamory, BDSM (fun times), open relationships, sex upside down, in a monkey (or dog) suit, and hanging from a chandelier. Well, my parents have heard all of this leak out of me on the phone, at family events, and especially on the beach during vacations where I oh-so-proudly proclaim my support of pee. On a phone call last week , my father said “Wow, I’m curious to see who you date next, because they better be interested in an open, upside down, nontraditional relationship full of pee.” His comment, full of humor and yet completely serious, made me reflect on the misunderstanding of both my message of being “sex positive” and of sexual activism. The “work”, my “work,” is not about creating new “norms,” expectations, or a new hierarchy (kinky sex is above and better than vanilla sex, and sex positive peeps better do it all!). Sexual activism, sexual health, and sex positivity are about a perspective and a lifestyle of not perpetuating or creating “norms” or policing borders of what is acceptable when consensual, non-damaging and pleasurable.
I support both clinically and socially a full range of myriad and diverse relational and sexual styles and behaviors, to the fullest extent, with all my integrity, but do not necessarily have an interest in them for myself. One can be very vanilla and very sex positive all at the same time. Being sex positive is about being open, flexible, non-judgmental, and choosing one’s sexual style and relational configuration while fully acknowledging all available options. It’s about allowing partners to do so as well without shaming them, and landing with what makes sense to you. Many of my married clients realize they have many options, still. They do not have to maintain monogamy, traditional concepts of “motherhood” or “wife”, or even “marriage”. I get to choose my identity, style, and commitments, as necessary. Renegotiation is an option always, and at all times (more of this in my upcoming book). This is being sex (and relationally) positive and sexually and relationally “healthy” and “mature”. Many people do not realize all of their options until after making primary decisions. I support you now in asking for what you want. Martyrdom and relational hostage situations are not acceptable!
So be asexual, bisexual, queer. Be both a man and a woman depending on the day and your mood. Date multiple people, have emotional monogamy but physical nonmonogamy. Have a primary leather lover with a sub secondary, and marry all three. Make masturbation your primary sexual style and partnered sex secondary to it. Fuck upside down while peeing, but make it all consensual, legal, and recognize that if an individual is on the receiving end that they have feelings and thoughts and take that into consideration (empathy). Awareness of options and consequences is what makes behavior functional. Impulsivity and compulsivity rebel against this and that’s when problems occur. “Why am I having sex or in relationship with this Other?” Ask this as template from which to make your sex positive decisions, as sometimes avoiding sex or a relationship is the positive move. Sex and relationships are meant to be pleasurable additions not necessary irritants and problematic baggage.