Sex Positive Philosophy
The terms and concept of sex-positive (or, alternately sex-affirmative) and sex-negative are generally attributed to Wilhelm Reich. His hypothesis was that some societies view sexual expression as essentially good and healthy, while other societies take an overall negative view of sexuality and seek to repress and control the sex drive.
Like Reich, some contemporary advocates of sex-positivity define their philosophy in contrast to sex-negativity, which they identify as the dominant view of sex in Western culture and many non-Western cultures. According to these advocates, traditional Christian views of human sexuality define traditional Western values in relation to this subject. Thus, such proponents of sex-positivity claim that under the Western, Christian tradition, sex is seen as a destructive force except when it is redeemed by the saving grace of procreation, and sexual pleasure is seen as sinful. Sexual acts are ranked hierarchically, with marital heterosexuality at the top of the hierarchy and masturbation, homosexuality, and other sexualities that deviate from societal norms closer to the bottom. Medicine and psychiatry are said to have also contributed to sex-negativity, as they may, from time to time, designate some forms of sexuality that appear on the bottom of this hierarchy as being pathological (see Mental illness). However, Western societies which predate Christian influence, such as ancient Greece, have often endorsed forms of sexuality that strongly conflict with Christian beliefs.
The sex-positive movement does not in general make moral or ethical distinctions between heterosexual or homosexual sex, or masturbation, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference. Some sex-positive positions include acceptance of BDSM and polyamory as well as asexuality, transsexuality, transgenderism, and other forms of gender transgression in general. Most elements of the sex-positive movement advocate comprehensive and accurate sex education as part of its campaign.
Some sex-positive theorists have analyzed sex-positivity in terms of intersection of race/culture, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and spirituality. Farajaje-Jones (2000) highlighted the connection between white supremacist ideology and what he termed “erotophobia”.
Several definitions of sex-positivity have been offered by sexologist Carol Queen:
Sex-positive, a term that’s coming into cultural awareness, isn’t a dippy love-child celebration of orgone – it’s a simple yet radical affirmation that we each grow our own passions on a different medium, that instead of having two or three or even half a dozen sexual orientations, we should be thinking in terms of millions. “Sex-positive” respects each of our unique sexual profiles, even as we acknowledge that some of us have been damaged by a culture that tries to eradicate sexual difference and possibility.
It’s the cultural philosophy that understands sexuality as a potentially positive force in one’s life, and it can, of course, be contrasted with sex-negativity, which sees sex as problematic, disruptive, dangerous. Sex-positivity allows for and in fact celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationships structures, and individual choices based on consent.