Here's what I thought: That being "Sex Positive" was thinking sex is great *raises hand,* promoting a wild & crazy sex life, and wanting to spread that belief to to the world.
Well, it kind of is, and kind of isn't. It's more about knowing who you are, claiming responsibility for your own body, being unashamed of it, and figuring out what you like, or dislike, based not on what others tell you is "good sex," but on what you decide for yourself. Those choices could include celibacy or asexuality, polyamory or swinging or monogamy, being gay or straight or "hetero-flexible," kinky or vanilla... you get to figure out who you are, and who you are not.
It's about being part of, and building, a safe community for all kinds of people to express their sexuality in a way that feels right FOR THEM. With vulnerability, but without shame.
[Note: I've joined a local, Sex-Positive group, read the materials and attended one orientation, which is not the deepest and most thorough knowledge one can have. So while I am striving to convey what I learned as accurately as possibly, it is entirely possible I have gotten something confused or am misstating it here. All such mistakes are my own, not the fault of SPLA.]
|Sexy organizer Gabriella Cordova, who is "out" as Sex-Positive.|
Here's what I learned at my Sex-Positive LA Meeting. (While you can be a Sex-Positive person without belonging to any formal organization, having that support can make this attitude a lot easier.)
Care, Consent, and Confidentiality
Let's take the last first: Confidentiality. Because there is such a stigma in current culture about sexuality (something this movement aims to change), many members of this group use assumed names so that it does not affect them professionally, or with members of their family, Therefore, no names or identifying photographs will be used here without permission.
Care. Being sex positive means caring for yourself, your family, and the others in the community. It means being responsible about being regularly tested for STIs, if you are in a non-monogamous relationship, AND using condoms; it means emotionally and physically caring for one another.
This is not a group to join if what you want is to cheat on an unsuspecting spouse or partner. Coercion, trickery, and lying are NOT caring, nor respectful. Not to your spouse, not to your partner, and not, actually, to yourself.
While morons and rapists may argue that "sometimes no means yes," no NEVER means yes with active consent.
Too drunk or whacked out with a head cold to say no, does not mean yes.
Cajoling or badgering until the other person gives in and says, "Okay, I guess," does not mean yes.
Only Yes, or, in some cases, Hell, yes! means yes.
Gabriella and the others emphasized that permission must be obtained for everything, not simply for what we typically think of as sex, but even things like a touch on the shoulder. Every single time. And that bodily autonomy must be always respected.
But what about seduction, about romance? Doesn't this kind of thing spoil it?
You don't read much romance, do you?
Few things are sexier than the almost kiss. The two leaning toward each other, and then, just as their lips are about to touch, he whispers, "May I kiss you?"
She whispers back, "Yes, oh yes!" and their lips meet, ever so softly, tongues flickering to tease each other's top lip, bottom lip, dancing together, bodies pressed so tight against one another, for long, slow, sweet moments, until her nipples grow hard and her knees grow weak.
She pulls her mouth away from his, locking his eyes with her own. "I want to take off your shirt, and rub my nipples against your chest. And then I'd like you to lick them, and suck on them. Is that okay with you?"
I could go on, but I think you get the point (as our heroine will, shortly). Consent is sexy.
But What If You Get a No?
If someone tells you no, the kindest reply is, "Thank you for taking care of yourself."
Think about it. Much of the time, problems in relationships come up because Person A thought Person B wanted or liked X, but he didn't, and bad feelings were created.
When someone says no, it is because s/he has checked inside, decided s/he was not comfortable with what you were requesting. This means that YOU don't have to guess, you don't have to take care of her/his feelings; s/he is taking care of her/himself. And when you get a no, that means when you do get a yes, it is a genuine, enthusiastic yes.
This Group Is Not For the Intolerant
For myself, I am uninterested in a "Red Room of Pain," a la 50 Shades. This does not mean putting down people who are, nor going all judgey on people who don't like the things that I like. Kinky is okay, vanilla (or, French vanilla), is perfectly okay.
In fact, I understand there are people in the group simply to be touched, held, and snuggled. Who will never be pressed to "take it to the next level," but are welcome to attend events built around the things that make them feel comfortable. Welcome are all LGBT people, the disabled, those with fetishes... Whatever your "thing" is, if you can't help make this a warm and welcoming place for everyone, it's not a good fit for you.
Orientation Not Optional
In order to join this group, you must attend an orientation. At the one I attended, besides Gabriella and the other organizers talking to us, showing us a short film clip, and a break for potluck refreshments, we shared a little bit of information on how we would label ourselves. Later, we practiced some lessons on boundaries, on saying no, on negotiating, on complimenting one another. And enjoyed a five-way hug.
I even got another compliment, later - one of the women who hugged me was very petite, had laid her head on my breast and enjoyed it very much. I probably should have replied what I was thinking, which was "I get that a lot" (especially lately from the littlest kitten), but I simply smiled at her, happy that I had made her happy.
I was also pleased to hear some people referencing Robert A. Heinlein, who often wrote stories including non-traditional love relationships. He's one of my all-time favorite authors, and while Time Enough for Love is my favorite (perhaps because it was my first, and I'm sloppily sentimental that way), I also love I Will Fear No Evil, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. I found Friday kind of sad, though the group marriage concept was interesting.
Will I be back?
Probably as long as they'll have me. And I will continue to share what I can, without breaking the agreement for confidentiality.
Have you ever attended a Sex-Positive event?
What did you think?