What is the sex-positive movement and how does it relate to periods?
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
Many who are up-to-date on third and fourth wave feminism, are familiar with the ‘sex-positive’ movement; a social and philosophical movement that promotes and embraces sexuality, and sexual expression, with an emphasis on female sexuality. The ‘sex-positive’ movement - being driven primarily by modern feminism - clearly demonstrates the importance of consent culture, and safe sex among both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. To put it simply, sex-positivity is an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as healthy and not shameful. Unlike past, and more traditional manners of thinking, the sex positive movement does not distinct sexual activities on a matter of morality; but rather, on a basis of personal preference.
A more current adaptation of the sex positive movement - that has taken place within the past ten years - is a revolution of sexuality beyond the binary. Essentially, the ideology that sexualities beyond ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ (or ‘gay’ and ‘straight’) exist. These identities include bisexuality (being attracted to both men and women), pansexuality (being attracted to all sexes and genders), and even distinctions between romantic and sexual attraction. This allows for people to be romantically attracted to different sexes and genders, as opposed to a more binary category of exclusivity and polarization.
At the same time however, this progression of how society views the ethics and fundamentals of human sexuality, of course inspires what has been known as ‘sex-negativity.’ This view perceives sex - when not heterosexual and with the intention to procreate - to be problematic, disruptive, and even dangerous.
Now, the sexual liberation movement has been occurring (with adaptations) for quite a long time. In fact, Freud originally used this in their writing analyzing the relationship between sexual liberation and psychosexual issues. As well as Wilhelm Reich, who originally coined the term. During the 1960s, a new culture of “free love” emerged, as millions of young people embraced the ‘hippie’ ethos preaching the power of love. At this time, a great deal of people felt that sexuality was simply a natural biological phenomena, which should be neither denied or repressed. Well into the 1970s, a new wave of sexual liberation developed as contraception, gay liberation, interracial marriage, women’s rights, feminism, and natural childbirth became more well-known and culturally accepted terms. Today, the sex positivity movement has continued to move closer into the mainstream. Social media has certainly played a large role in this progression, as a wider and more diverse audience is being introduced to its ideology.
All this being said, both the sex positive and negative perspectives have driven extreme ideologies that have the potential to invoke catastrophic impacts. In terms of the sex negative movement, it takes on the more conservative definition of human sexuality. This inherently shames sexually active people, or non-straight people for their sexuality. On the other hand, the sex positive movement can encourage sexual engagement to the point of pressure, especially towards young women. This inspires a culture of shame towards people who don’t want to have sex, or are of differing beliefs.
Personally, I am in favor of people doing what they want to do with their bodies. Whether someone wants to wait until marriage, or otherwise, as long as it is a individually driven choice it works towards equity. This, occasionally is an ideology in contrast to both movements, and is a perspective that needs to be more clearly illustrated to its audiences.
A positive aspect to the sexual liberation movement, is it’s acceptance of the female body. This contributes to menstrual equity, as it is a step further to becoming more accepting of females’ monthly shedding. On the other hand, it associates the female body exclusively with sexuality.
It is certainly not a simple issue to tackle! What are your thoughts? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below!