Saturday, July 19, 2014

What 'Sex Positive' Actually Means

In previous posts, I've discussed openly my sexual orientation as well as my sexual behavior and the consequences I've faced because of this behavior. Yes, there can be negative results to having a hyperactive sex drive like I do. However, despite all this, I remain sex positive.

What does sex positive mean, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Sex positivity is the idea that men and women alike should have the right to express themselves sexually without being judged. Sex positive as it relates to feminism focuses on the idea that sexual freedom is essential in the fight for equality and women's freedom. In our society, men are often allowed, and even encouraged, to act upon their sexual urges with no fear of retribution or consequence because they have been taught since infant-hood that sexual desires are an innate part of being a boy. But with women, from the time we are young girls, we are told that our sexuality should not be talked about and should be kept secret, as if it were something to be ashamed of.

I remember being taught in Sunday School that our virtue was dependent on our sexual purity and our sexual urges were to be ignored. They were never acknowledged or dealt with; instead, they were swept under the rug. No one ever taught us, as young women, how to handle our sexuality. I was made to feel like I was not a proper girl because I often thought about sex like I was told boys do. And if I acted upon those thoughts, I would lose my virtue. To this day, I still do not understand this mentality. Do people not know the definition of the word virtue? Here, let me help you out:

virtue (ˈvɜːtjuː, -tʃuː) —n: 1. the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness.

Does it say anywhere in that definition "sexual purity?" I know for some people, that's what it means to practice moral excellence. But I have met many amazing and moral individuals who are sexually active, and they are far better people than some Christians or Mormons. Does this mean they have no virtue? No value?

Morality is an individual idea. It is a code either a culture or you yourself decide is ethical and acceptable. There is not one right or wrong way to morally govern your life. All you have to do is travel to a different country to see how different someone's morality can be simply because they grew up in a different culture. For this reason, I do not believe it is right for anyone to judge another person's actions. I mean, this is pretty cut and dry, people. Even Jesus taught that. You don't have to agree with others' lifestyles; but you don't have the right to look down on them for their decisions.

This practice of judging others for their actions has led to a culture in America of slut-shaming. Slut shaming is when someone bashes or verbally attacks an individual--usually a woman--for their sexual actions, or perceived sexual actions. THIS IS NOT OKAY AND NEEDS TO STOP. Unfortunately, within moral circles, such as Christian culture, slut shaming is completely acceptable and even somewhat encouraged. I attend BYU, and one of the things they make students swear to when they sign the honor code is to turn anyone in to the Honor Code Office that is being sexually inappropriate so they can face discipline.

Not only is that kinda creepy (like, dude, why are you so interested in someone else's sex life?), but it creates a culture that says it's okay to decide someone else's worth based on their actions and then punish them for said actions that do not in any way affect you. This also leads to a negative conception of sex. And people wonder why Christians have to fight against a guilty conscience concerning their sex life, even after being married.

The sex-positive movement is a movement that is trying to create a new culture which promotes and embraces sexuality all across the spectrum, from asexual to celibate to "sexually promiscuous." It also puts emphasis on consent and safe sex practices.

Sex positive means we acknowledge there is no such things as "sluts". There are women who are more sexually active and there are women who are not. Neither type of person should be shamed for their own choices.

Sex positive means we reject a culture that says if you aren't putting out, you're a prude; but if you've slept with even one guy, you're a whore.

Sex positive means we believe sex is a good thing! It is a gift that God gave us to create life, as well as to become closer to another human being and to experience pleasure.

Sex positive means determining for yourself what sex means to you and not determining it for others.

Sex positive means all sex that is being had should be consensual and safe, and any other factors are no one's business.

Sex positive means I can choose to wait for marriage because of religious convictions and still acknowledge that sex is important and not something to be ashamed of. It also means I can choose not to wait for marriage because of personal choices and that is not something to be ashamed of.

Basically, I'm saying all of this to try and get people to understand that sex is awesome, no matter how or when or with whom you are having it--it just needs to be consensual and safe. Having moral standards surrounding sexual activity is a good thing too, as long as it doesn't lead to bashing or superiority complexes. You don't have to agree with someone to love them.

I want people to also understand that when someone says they are sex positive, that doesn't automatically mean they are going around having sex with every person they meet. Some of the most sex positive women I've met didn't have sex until they were married, and that's great! As this article so wonderfully put it, "being sex positive isn't about encouraging everyone to have tons of sex all the time; it's about understanding that sex should be safe, shame-free and above all, based on informed, personal choices."

Let's get rid of a culture that puts women down for the same actions that are encouraged in men. That is sexism, and it is degrading and harmful. Let's get rid of slut-shaming and the idea that just because you don't agree with someone, that makes you better than them. Ask yourself, "Would Jesus have done this?"

We all need to be a little bit more loving and a lot less judgmental. Christian culture needs to refocus on what Jesus really came to this Earth to teach us: love and understanding and acceptance. He didn't teach us to call each other sluts or whores or prudes. He didn't teach us to shame or label or judge others. We get so caught up in all the rules and standards we think we have to follow in order to be considered a good person, and we forget to simply "love one another as Jesus loves you."

Let's stop the hate. Let's stop the judging. Let's start loving. Let's start being sex positive. Let's start being a little bit more like Jesus.

15 comments:

  1. Great blog Keli. I definitely agree about being sex positive. I have to say that I am married now and have been for two years. And my husband and I have two wonderful sons as proof of our love for each other. I too have to say that there are times when I have a high sex drive. I also believe that sex has brought my husband and I closer together emotionally. Intimacy is something that our bodies seek as we get older. Sex is a tool used to get to know another person in a different way. I have to admit that my husband was not my first time.But when you have found the right one Sex can be amazing, funny, and fun. Sex is not always perfect like they show in the movies in reality it is the exact opposite.

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    1. Exactly :) thank you for your comment.

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  2. So you don't believe in the 10 commandments? There have always been commandments regarding sex and when it is appropriate. You should not slut shame, but it is right to stand up for God's laws. Those who don't obey may take the truth to be hard, but that doesn't change the fact that it is truth. Sex outside of marriage between a man and woman is forbidden by God. Christ did not condemn the woman taken in adultery. But the next thing he said was "Go and sin no more."

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    1. I don't think you actually understood anything this post was about....where did I ever say I was condoning the breaking of the commandments, or encouraging fornication? This whole post was simply about not slut shaming or judging people for choosing their own path and actions. That's not the same as telling you to accept and embrace them. And I don't know how you translated sex positive = no belief in the ten commandments....

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    2. "Morality is an individual idea. It is a code either a culture or you yourself decide is ethical and acceptable. There is not one right or wrong way to morally govern your life." If you believe in the ten commandments, then you believe that it is The way to govern your life, and the way others should govern theirs. You don't believe it is an individual idea. You believe that morality is dictated by God. And His law says that we should not fornicate, nor encourage others to live a life that is contrary to His law. He has asked us to encourage each other to keep His commandments. You are saying basically to mind your own business and let other people find their own way to heaven; it's not your business if they get there. But Christ always rebuked those who he saw breaking His father's commandments. Sometimes gently, sometimes not. And God has told us that we are indeed our brother's keeper. We need to help each other along the path. Saying "Hey, it's fine if you fornicate, it's not my business" isn't standing as a witness of Christ. I doubt that is what he'd say if he were standing in your place.

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    3. Believing in God is still an individual choice, is it not? Believing in Christianity or Mormonism or the Ten Commandments is still just one way to govern your life among a world full of other governing systems, yes? And the only thing that determines your way is THE way to govern your life is individual faith, correct?
      I still don't see in your comments any comprehension of what this post is all about. I never said, "Hey, it's fine if you fornicate, it's not my business." I very clearly stated SEVERAL times that it is not anyone's place to judge someone else's actions. You don't have to agree with them; and you can most certainly believe that there are better ways for them to live their life. But the slut shaming and judgmental culture develops when people like you decide that thinking your way to live life is better than theirs = I'm better than them and I'm going to call them immoral.
      I believe in the ten commandments. I really do. I don't believe that my belief in those commandments means I can put down others who don't believe the same things I do. That is not encouraging a life "contrary to His law," it's encouraging people to live more Christlike by not judging others.
      The best way to help each other along the path has never been and never will be to shame others. It is to love and show compassion, and if necessary do your best to teach them what you believe to be right and then allow them to choose whether they believe that too. I can't get people to heaven; you can't get people to heaven; even Jesus can't make people find their way to heaven. They have to get their on their own. They have to choose it for themselves. And slut-shaming and judging them is only going to make that path longer and harder.
      Do yourself, and me, a favor and stop thinking you are responsible for everyone's salvation. You are not and God has never said you are. In the end, Heavenly Father makes the final decision. NOT YOU. If you keep living life this way, you're going to wear yourself out and waste time focusing on others when you should be focusing on yourself and how to guarantee your own salvation. So just chill out a little bit, dude, and just listen to what I and other people are trying to say without automatically being on the defensive. You'll be much happier, I guarantee it.

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  3. That's funny.. I would like to know where in the church standards guys are encouraged to act on their sexual desires? And since when does gender equality have to do with having as much sex as you want? I feel like you are making things up just so you have things to complain about so that you feel better about the choices you've made. Do what you want, but don't bring down the church by bashing it and spreading lies.

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  4. "It also means I can choose not to wait for marriage because of personal choices and that is not something to be ashamed of."

    If you made covenants with God to obey the law of chastity then choose to break those covenants then you should definitely be ashamed. Your wording makes it sound as if you're speaking of yourself; let's hope that's not the case.

    "Morality is an individual idea. It is a code either a culture or you yourself decide is ethical and acceptable. There is not one right or wrong way to morally govern your life. All you have to do is travel to a different country to see how different someone's morality can be simply because they grew up in a different culture."

    Interesting. My experience with international travel has led me to believe that basic morality is one of the few things that transcends culture. Regardless, moral relativism is a very dangerous philosophy usually espoused by people who haven't actually thought it through. I encourage you to study up on your ethics.

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  5. http://www.millennialmormons.com/to-keli-byers-fighting-byus-ban-on-sex/

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  6. "It also means I can choose not to wait for marriage because of personal choices and that is not something to be ashamed of."If you made covenants with God to obey the law of chastity then choose to break those covenants then you should definitely be ashamed. Your wording makes it sound as if you're speaking of yourself; let's hope that's not the case.

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