Cliff Pervocracy wrote a really nice post about what he means by sex-positive, so I figured I would talk about what I mean by sex-negative. (While glaring at the feminists of a generation ago who couldn’t think of any better words.)
I think a lot of times people think of sex-negativity as the Forces of People Who Hate Sex. Admittedly, people who really hate sex do exist: St. Jerome taught that he who loves his wife too ardently is an adulterer (wooo Church Fathers). And certainly it seems like the current batch of sex-negative people don’t like fucking too much, what with the trying to keep birth control from being covered by insurance and the abstinence-only sex ed and so on.
But I think that the Forces of People Who Hate Sex model oversimplifies the situation, at least when you aren’t talking about early Church Fathers. I think sex-negativity and compulsory sexuality are two sides of the same fucked-up coin. Look at two things that I happen to know a lot about, and that I would call glaringly sex-negative: modern Protestant fundamentalism and Cosmo magazine.
Modern Protestant fundamentalism is very obsessed with people not fucking until they get married. In fact, some people will choose not to kiss until their wedding day for fear that that might lead them to commit sexual sin. But they don’t see themselves as anti-sex: in fact, they recommend purity because they believe that sex is better when you’re married and you’ve only had one sex partner.
Once you’re married, women are expected to give their husbands sex regularly, even if it is uncomfortable or painful. Not wanting sex is “defrauding” him of his marital right. Before marriage, you can only say no; after marriage, you can only say yes.
…Okay, that’s really depressing.
On the less depressing and more stupid department, Cosmo! In Cosmoland, there are two kinds of sexual activities: there are Hot Sex Moves He Secretly Wishes You’d Try, and there are Creepy Things Weird People Like. I’m not sure about Cosmo’s logic here, because toilet paper bondage is on the Hot Sex Moves He Secretly Wishes You’d Try list, and girls in drag is on the Creepy Things Weird People Like list, even though I know way more people who are into girls in drag than toilet paper bondage.
(Please tell me I have a reader who’s into toilet paper bondage, that would make my life.)
About half the sex tips articles will assure you that these are the hot and kinky kind of sex tips, not the scary and kinky kind. (This is often phrased as “no whips and chains,” because Cosmo is Not Original.) Every month we have the Sexy vs. Skanky list; literally every human behavior has been put on one side or the other.
This is the difference between sex-positivity and sex-negativity. Sex-negativity is the model where there is a Right Way To Fuck and a Wrong Way To Fuck. It doesn’t matter what the content is: whether you’re a defrauder if you don’t fuck after marriage but impure if you fuck before, or unsexy if you don’t like spanking but creepy if you want to use a paddle, or a tease if you don’t put out but a slut if you put out too much, or– hell– anti-feminist if you don’t care about your sexual pleasure but also anti-feminist if your sexual pleasure involves being tied up. It’s all the same bullshit.
Sex-negativity is the belief that anything not forbidden is compulsory.
Sex-positivity, the way I see it, is the belief that as long as you and your partners are happy no one should give a fuck about the sex you’re having. If you or your partners are not happy, we can give you some advice about how to fix that, but if you are? It’s none of my fucking business.