First of all, what is sex positive feminism? It is the idea that sexual freedom is a major part of gender equality. A woman should feel empowered by her sexual and romantic choices rather than shamed or judged.
Makes sense, right? Well, it is still something many women are shamed for, even by other women. In order to be a feminist, a woman should not need to be modest or prude. She should be empowered by her choice whether that is to take part in casual sex or remain celibate or anything in between.
Why is sex positive feminism so important in today’s culture?
For ages, women who chose to enjoy sex were seen as easy or less of a woman. They were judged for their choices. They were and even still are viewed in a negative light while men that have multiple sex partners or “conquests” are praised for their ability to get a woman in bed. [Read: Positive lessons we can learn from slutty girls]
Women who decide to enjoy sex for their own pleasure and freedom were also assumed to have low self-esteem. They were told that by enjoying sex, they were disrespecting themselves and letting men disrespect them.
When in fact, many women view a lively sex life as empowering. It gives them a positive relationship with their bodies and pride in their sexuality. Sex positive feminism is about women no longer feeling ashamed for their bodies or their desire for sex.
Sex for women should be enjoyable. It is something they should be able to be proud of instead of ashamed of. As long as the sex is safe and consensual, there should be no input from the outside world.
Why is sex positive feminism hard for a lot of people to accept?
Women’s bodies are often times controlled by men. Whether it be healthcare, sexual assault, or even religion, letting women be proud to make their own choices on what they do with their bodies is shocking for many people to understand.
Instead of looking at a woman who has an active and meaningful sex life as empowering, many people view her as impure. This is an archaic and sexist way of thinking. Unfortunately, still a very common idea in society.
People twist a woman’s sexual freedom and desire to enjoy sex as an excuse for her to be treated poorly by men and other women. They see her as sinful or deserving of assault or disrespect just for owning her sexuality.
And while people look down on women who defy these suppressed ideas of women, they also judge women for being prude or modest. Women’s bodies are for men to ogle. But they must also remain “pure” and untouched. [Read: Is the madonna-whore complex still relevant?]
As a woman, how do you balance what society demands of you? Easy, you don’t.
Why we need sex positive feminism
Sex positive feminism is just another aspect of the larger idea of feminism. All people should be treated equally. That means at work, in politics, in religion, in a household, and in regards to sex.
If you claim to be a feminist but do not support sex positive feminism, you may need to rethink some things. Being a feminist is about supporting a woman’s choice in all aspects. Whether she chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or a CEO. If she chooses to be a virgin until marriage or sleep with whomever she chooses.
A woman’s choice to enjoy sex as a physical act of pleasure or a more meaningful romantic gesture is hers and hers alone. Her choice does not affect anyone else. It is not up for debate or open to interpretation or judgment.
Sex positive feminism is about women’s liberation. And although many people think that means women are going to sleep around, it actually means women now have the choice to. Just because a woman is a sex positive feminist, it does not mean she will sleep with every person she comes across nor will she avoid casual sex.
It means she has the right to choose whatever she wants without judgment or shame. For too long, women have been told to feel shame for enjoying or even wanting sex. But women should feel empowered and confident in their sexuality, their bodies, and their sexual choices.
Although many people still judge women for their number of sexual partners or discussing their sexual experiences openly, women should not be made to feel unworthy or impure for their sexual choices. As long as both people involved are consenting adults that is where the opinions on someone else’s sex life ends, or should end. [Read: How being sexualized can make or break you]
My experience with sex positive feminism
There is a lot of fear for women in society when it comes to sex. You do not want to be seen as a prude, but also do not want your number of sexual partners to get “too” high. Balancing that ideal is impossible and not something anyone should have to endure.
That includes men. Men should be shamed for sleeping with not enough women or no women at all. For me, I always felt pressure to say yes even if I wasn’t 100% sure about it. And what that led to was regret and shame.
Sure, that shame has been engrained in me from a young age, but it was also because sex without an emotional connection and trust just doesn’t feel right to me. Now, I think that casual sex without romantic feelings is great for those who enjoy it, but for me, it just isn’t what I enjoy.
Does that make me a bad feminist? No. What it makes me is a sex positive feminist. Because you do not need to enjoy casual sex or even want to have sex in order to be a sex positive feminist. All you need to do is accept each person’s sexual choices for what they are, theirs.
How can you become a sex positive feminist?
No matter who you are, you can become a sex positive feminist with a little bit of self-reflection and compassion.
#1 Open your mind. If you never considered any of this, I get it. You are likely privileged enough to have never dealt with this sort of judgment or shame. Of course, that is not your fault, but open your mind. Go beyond what you have experienced and support everyone’s sexual choices. [Read: This is how you can show respect to women]
#2 Respect others’ choices. Being a feminist and a sex positive one is mostly about respect. You do not have to agree with everyone’s choices, but you do have to respect those choices. You may choose to dress modestly and not sleep with anyone unless you are in a committed relationship and that is fine. You don’t need to love casual sex in order to respect that choice from others.
#3 Question things. I know it is easy to avoid thinking about these disturbing and confusing topics. A lot of us avoid thinking about how awfully women have been treated in society for centuries, especially for their sexual liberation. But if you actually take the time to ask why women have been shamed for their choices, your opinions may change.
If you question why men are praised for the choices women are mocked for, you can see another side to this.
#4 Put yourself in others’ shoes. For someone who never felt pressured into sex or into celibacy due to society, it can be hard to understand where sex positive feminism started. It can be hard to understand its importance. But if you imagine what it would be like to feel those feelings on a daily basis you may be able to better understand. [Read: Feminine energy – How to embrace it, release it and increase it]
#5 Focus on your decision. If thinking about others’ burdens is not enough for you, think about yours. Many deny that societal norms and influences affect us. It is nice to think we are above it. You may think you are making your own choices about sexuality, but are you?
Think about what made you say no the last time you had the opportunity for sex. Are you uncomfortable? Or did you feel like they wouldn’t respect you if you had sex at that point? Have you not told a friend you slept with someone because you worried they would judge you?
Instead of worrying about someone else’s sexual choice, think about your own. No matter what your choice is, do you feel empowered by it? Did it come from within you or from an external source like the media, religion, or society in general?
[Read: Different types of feminism and how they differ from each other]
Sex positive feminism is just one part of a larger movement to ensure women are treated with equal respect and acceptance for all of their decisions, including what to do with their bodies regarding sex.
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