With the growing surge of Instagram educators, unabashed bloggers, and unedited online platforms, we are seeing a new era of sex-positivity. That in large part is thanks to the internet.
This ever-handy tool that constantly lies in our hands and on our laps, has created opportunities for a like-minded community, evolution-based in education, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be a sexual being.
The internet broadens access to life-changing information and breaks down barriers around sexuality.
With this new decade comes a new era of sex positivity, understanding, and acceptance.
Before looking forward, we need to take a look back at the sexual revolutions that have made this possible.
While cultural movements in the 1920s brought a growing number of women to openly explore their sexuality, these efforts were largely quieted in favor of the more modest eras that followed.
When people generally think of sexual revolutions, they think of the 1960s. Hippies, free love, widespread access to birth control – all factors that helped pull this engine along.
The leaders of these movements pushed for abortion reform, informed research on women’s pleasure, access to STI testing and treatment, and broadened our ideas around female sexuality.
With time, we’ve seen progression and regression. Some areas that seem to have propelled forward, while others that have remained stagnant or even moved backward. *cough* We’re looking at your abortion reform *cough*.
In recent years, we’ve seen a huge shove to expose the widespread prevalence of sexual violence in the “Me too” movement, and how sexual trauma impacts sexuality across all genders.
Sexuality, like humans, is complicated, it encompasses so much of who we are and what drives us, which means sex positivity is going to look different for different people. At the same time, there are fundamental principles that can be maintained across cultures, ones based on understanding, evidence-based knowledge, respect, choice, and freedom from judgment.
The New Roaring Twenties
The foundation of this era of sex-positivity is based on education. It requires people to have access to information about their bodies, their pleasure, their health, and their choices, as well as what societal influences are shaping this.
The outdated models of sexual education that propose abstinence as the most effective form of birth control are shameful and ineffective.
Education doesn’t have to be formal, it’s safe to assume that most of the sex-ed people get these days is not coming from textbooks.
While it’s important to look at things through a critical lens, there is a lot of power in anecdotal and peer-based education. Especially considering the lack of research on female-bodied sexual health. As well as the inherent biases that often inform what research is out there.
Learning from someone’s lived experience through communities, online forums, and social media gives young people the chance to ask questions they might not normally be able to or even feel safe to.
Educational sex positivity means taking a keen look at what it means to destigmatize sexually transmitted infections, understand just what the cervix is, and examine the ways hormonal birth control may affect your mental health.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it speaks to the importance of asking in-depth questions and utilizing the tools we have to find answers.
Intersectionality and Inclusivity
To look at people and society through an intersectional lens means to examine the many factors that shape them into who they are.
That means that sexuality isn’t just a matter of who you like to have sex with, it’s taking into account someone’s environment, culture, health, potential traumas, and more – that shape their ever-evolving sexuality.
We don’t live in a bubble, and there are so many things that impact our sexual identities and how we relate to intimacy. Recognizing the need for intersectionality makes space for inclusivity.
Sex positivity in this day and age means the recognition and understanding of the nuances of gender and sexuality and respecting people’s varying identities and desires.
Being inclusive doesn’t mean you have to share or practice the same views and ideas as someone else, but it means that as long as they aren’t harmful, you promote acceptance.
With health and wellness being one of the fastest-growing industries out there, people are prioritizing their wellbeing more than ever.
Sex can be a powerful tool in anyone’s wellness kit.
Being sexually satisfied, breaking down stigmas and judgments, and having knowledge of the inner workings of one’s body are all components of feeling well and healthy.
With sex-positivity, vibrators are as important as face masks, masturbation is as powerful as a soothing bath, and getting tested for STIs should be as routine as going to the dentist.
As we dive further into this new era of sexual positivity, we urge you to get to know your body, examine what sexuality means to you, what areas you want to deepen your knowledge on, what stories you have to share, and how you incorporate sex into your wellness routine.
We still have a ways to go, but times are changing, and the world is embracing the variations of human sexuality on a wider and wider scale.
It’s time we shift the narrative from sex being something that’s taboo, to sexuality being one of the most fundamental parts of being human. That is sex-positivity.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.