I’ve made lots of progress in terms of self-acceptance. But I still struggle to embrace my sexuality. There were a lot of experiences growing up that caused me to see sex as a negative thing. Plenty of unwanted advances, a good number of people taking things too far, and the general climate around women and sexuality did a number on me.
But the older I’ve gotten, the less okay I am with having a negative perspective towards sex. I feel it’s robbed from many areas of my life, including the intimacy in my romantic relationships.
I’m learning that the fight toward healthy sex and self-image is an uphill battle. So I’ve set intentional guides to achieve my goal of sex positivity. I’ve been wearing what I want, listening to sex-related podcasts, and doing my best to stay present during sex.
Here are four habits to improve sex positivity, and a handful of examples of what that looks like.
1. Stop Judging
Ending the social acceptance of slut shaming is one of the first steps necessary to move toward sex positivity. What do we gain by criticizing another woman’s sexual expression? What they do in the bedroom really isn’t any of my business. The concept of policing another woman’s sexuality is one of many ways we police women’s bodies unnecessarily, not to mention how it shapes conversations of sexual assault and abuse.
Growing up, one of the scariest things to be thought of was a “fast girl.” Interestingly, these titles had little obvious impact on the girls who chose to be sexually active from a young age. Instead, it led to negative beliefs and manifestations from girls like me who were hardly having any relationships at all, let alone having sex. I lived my life doing my best to avoid any actions or expressions that would cause me to be associated with those concepts. But, at this stage in my life, I don’t care anymore.
Along the same lines, we gotta make sure we’re not judging those who choose not to engage in sex, as well. There are many folks whose lives don’t revolve around or prioritize sex — and that’s okay too. Sex positivity is about freedom of choice from both ends of the spectrum. We shouldn’t judge people for having sex, not having sex, or their (ethical and consensual) sexual preferences.
Looking for a resource? Check out Amber Rose’s SlutWalk.
2. Embrace Your Sexuality
One’s sexuality can be expressed in a wide range of ways, and it’s an umbrella term. Sexuality can be about sexual orientation and gender identity, the preferences and behaviors one likes to engage in within the bedroom, or even as basic as discussing sexual behaviors out loud and wearing attire that emphasizes sexiness.
What makes up the topic of sexuality varies from person to person, but we all deserve the right to display it in a way that we see fit, as long as that doesn’t hurt anyone else. In my case, that means ditching the fear of being associated with sexiness and no longer carrying the responsibility for males’ perceptions of my body and accepting that I can be sexy regardless of size.
Look out for examples of IG folks like sarahsapora who don’t let size limit sexy:
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Me: This photo changed the course of my life. In May of 2017 I was about a year into my journey of self-love and wellness and I was READY to start pushing the boundaries of what I was comfortable with in my newly changing body. I asked my friend, @keithwebb, to join me for a second year shooting pics on the beach. I took a risk, I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone, I breathed deep a whole bunch of times… and I let go. This picture, and the others taken that day, were a celebration of me. It was my way of pausing along my journey to stop and discover something sensual and, hopefully, beautiful in the body of a 38 year old woman on a journey to living her healthier and happier life. My ideas have never been about "glorifying obesity" or pushing a "diet" on someone. And, yes, I am 100% on my own journey of holistic wellness, inside and out. But I stand here, in my small little space of the internet, to remind us that ALL bodies deserve Hope and Action. All bodies, at every size and age and weight, deserve to find acceptance. Whether we are on a body-journey or not, the ONLY way for ANY of us to create long-lasting change is to do so from a place of love, without shame and with self-compassion. You can't grow a house built on sinking sand. The houses that withstand storms are those built on unshakable foundations of deeply rooted self-love.🧡🧡 "We need to know, that sensuality doesn’t have to be defined by our size. We need to know that beauty doesn’t expire after the age of 35. We need to accept that bodies in progress, those that are changing shape, may have looser skin. And that looser skin is just skin. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. We need to believe that larger bodies are just as entitled to their sexuality as their more slender peers are. We need KNOW that that all of these things that make people uncomfortable are facts of life. Bodies change shape. Bodies get older. Bodies are different sizes. Bodies are allowed to be sensual in their varied forms." #bodypositive #selflove #selfcare #personaldevelopment #personalgrowth #Inspiration #effyourbeautystandards
3. Calling Out Sexual Double Standards
We also have to make sure we’re calling out sexual double standards, and that will require some societal introspection. We will all have to ask ourselves why are we so afraid of women having the freedom to experience and enjoy sex to the same degree that men have been given throughout history.
It would also be beneficial for us to take that introspection a step further and examine the ways that people who are situated among society’s margins, like the LGBTQ community (know it’s okay to love yourself outside of gender margins) and people of color, experience a multiplied version of sexual stigma and shame. Sexual liberation should be accessible to everyone at equal capacities. Your race, sexual orientation, size, or ability status should not be the determining factor on whether you have the freedom to experience the joys of sex.
4. Advocate For Comprehensive Sex Ed
The importance of comprehensive sexual education cannot be overstated. I am originally from Texas, one of many states located among the Bible belt that has a reputation for horrible sexual education. I’m here to tell you the rumors are true. The sexual education I received as a kid was so bad that I was in college before I found out that you have sex from one hole and pee out of another. That’s ridiculously embarrassing. I’d been taught about everything but my own body. We need to make sure our children are exposed to better.
If we spend more time ensuring that our youth have access to comprehensive sexual education, which needs to include LGBTQ inclusive sex education, we can spend less time on the highly debated topics. Good sex education has the potential to do much of the heavy lifting.
The best sex education starts at home and at a young age. We must make sure we are teaching our children anatomically correct terms and providing fact-based information. Scare tactics and shame do more long-term harm than parents may realize. Letting our children know that sexual desire and expression (including masturbation) is normal will increase the chances that they will have a healthy attitude about sex and their own bodies.
We can’t become a sex-positive society without quality sex education.
Looking for a resource? Check out Women Of Color Sexual Health Network.
2019 is my year of embracing sexuality. I know I am one of millions of women who are fighting an uphill battle with reclaiming their sexual agency and learning that there is nothing wrong with appreciating and enjoying sex. But I’m determined to get there.