Sex Positivity includes a set of ideas for how to frame conversations about sex. Sex education talks are so important for healthy, functioning adulthood. Make “sex talks” easier, and less awkward, by following these three tips.
1. Talk Positively About Safe, Pleasurable, Consensual Sex, Alongside Abstinence
Many states in the U.S., like Michigan, either don’t require school districts to teach sex education, or only require education about procreation, pregnancy prevention, and STI prevention. Advocates of sex-positivity argue this is problematic.
First, procreation and abstinence-based sex education are relatively unsuccessful at preventing teen pregnancy and STI transmission. Teenage brains develop sex hormones before they fully develop the ability to assess risk. Only teaching about sex in procreation leaves a lot of room for experimentation. Teenagers may not realize other actions that feel good could lead to STI transmission in the same way that heterosexual, procreational sex can.
The basic idea behind sex positivity is that all consensual sex is healthy. Therefore, sex-positive sex education would teach about consent, pleasure, and safe sex practices inside and outside of heterosexual sex. Talking about consent and pleasure at the same time as abstinence makes it more likely for people to have healthy sex lives once they are ready to become sexually active.
2. Be Positive About and Include Diverse Perspectives While Talking About Sex
Sexual identities are much more complicated than people initially thought. When considering gender and sexual orientation, there’s a lot of diversity in the world. Excluding this diversity while talking about sex in schools and with youths doesn’t erase it.
Sex positivity allows people to feel safe to express themselves when talking about sex and gender. Sex-positive spaces teach open-mindedness and inclusion. Sex-positive attitudes make it more likely for LGBTQ+ teenagers and young adults to practice safe sex – if they have sex at all.
3. Sex Positivity Allows us to Get Rid of Stigmas by Talking About Them
There are a lot of stigmas around sex and sexual health. Decades of sex-negative sex education in schools in the U.S. have resulted in feelings of shame associated with contracting STIs and unexpected pregnancies. This shame does little to prevent the transmission of STIs, or rate of unexpected pregnancies. Rather, it leaves those affected alienated from potential systems of support.
Sex-positive sex education would include realistic images of living and coping with STIs alongside prevention. This would provide a more holistic and less judgemental understanding of issues around STI transmission. Therefore, sex-positive attitudes make it more likely for someone to seek support in the event of STI transmission.
Sex positivity refers to the attitude we bring with us when we have sex talks with youth. It’s the idea that part of sex education is ensuring people have healthy sex lives once they become sexually active. Sex-positive sex education is worth it because it allows us to engage more youth in healthy understandings of sex and sexuality!