The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

The Joy of Sex-Positivity

Something a little more positive and up-beat today. I’d kind of like it if we never went a month at The Lady Garden without saying, “Sex is great!”

I wasn’t raised in a sex-positive environment. Now, that doesn’t mean that I grew up in an actively sex-negative environment, just like me describing as “sex-positive” doesn’t mean that I think everyone who doesn’t use the label is negative about sex. (Though, absolutely, there are feminists I would happily describe as “sex-negative”, no problems at all. If you think sex needs to be contained, that it’s only okay if it’s done in certain ways and in certain contexts, then your basic assumption is that Sex is Bad. IMO.)

The last few years on line, though, I’ve run across a lot of great sex-pos people and blogs. In RL, I have a whole lot more explicitly sex-pos conversations with friends in bars. I love it, it’s great. Note, I’m saying “great for me”, not “great for everyone”. I’d like to be able to talk about the joy that sex-positivity has brought into my life, without being told that I’m speaking for everyone, because I’m really not. This is my experience, okay? Do add your own in comments.

The absolute best thing is the lack of judgey-pants. I can talk about what I like, what I don’t like, what I fantasize about, what I think I might like to try, without seeing THAT facial expression. You know the one. The sudden square closed-face that says, “You just went down in my estimation as a human being because of what you get off on, you freak.”

That means I am much more at peace with myself. Because other people are accepting of me as I am, so am I. I think it’s probably hard to imagine with the apparent ease and pride I have talking about these things on line that at one point I loathed my own desires as sick and wrong.

And you know, there are still a lot of places and times I CAN’T talk about it. And I don’t mean “long graphic descriptions of Sex Acts I Have Performed”, because I never do that. But a couple of days ago, when a nurse asked me what my new tattoo meant? I told her the moons meant I was bisexual. I would not, could not, tell her the triskelion meant I was a BDSM practitioner. I didn’t have the trust that I wouldn’t see The Look from her, and it wasn’t worth the risk. But the contexts in which I can leave that tattoo exposed, happy to explain it, and even happier when someone doesn’t need it explained? Delightful. Precious.

And probably the simplest thing is the freedom from guilt. I don’t have to feel bad about enjoying sex. I don’t have to deal with people whose basic mindset is that sex is either Bad Unless Properly Contained, or that it just isn’t important (I don’t get this, much as I don’t ‘get’ people who don’t actively enjoy food), or that it should never be talked about.

I really enjoy not feeling like a freak because I’ve slept with too many people. (You know who thinks I’m a slut? Anders Breivik. Twenty does really seem to be the Slut Number.) Or the wrong people, or in the wrong way. It’s nice to be able to relax knowing nobody’s going to assume I’m weak because I “bruise easy”. (My doctor asked me what I did for stress relief. On balance, I decided not to tell her.) And even more than that, I enjoy knowing people will talk to me about stuff they’ve done, and know I’m not going to judge them, either. Even if they’ve cheated in a relationship, or been the other person, or slept with someone they utterly shouldn’t have, because we all understand how you get into those situations.

Basically, I love operating with the basic premise that Sex is Good. That sexually life is about getting what you want, more than about avoiding what you don’t want. Acknowledging as a basic “well fucking DUH” that the vast majority of sex is consensual and pleasurable and joyful, and that for the vast majority of people sex is a desirable thing to have in their lives. That we shift from talking about “sex” and “good sex” to “sex” and “bad sex”, because basically? Sex is Good.

54 responses to “The Joy of Sex-Positivity

  1. Jackie Clark July 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    One of the very many reasons I so enjoy reading your thoughts on sex is that, as someone who doesn’t have sex at all anymore, except occasionally with myself, I like to know that others are having a good time with it. I had an awful lot of really bad sex in my day – mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t picky about who I had sex with. Because my sex life was all about, in the end, fairly poor self esteem. Sometimes I had sex with someone because they turned me on, at too many other times I had sex with people who were briefly into me, but I wasn’t into them. And I never orgasmed with anyone who I wasn’t in love with, or cared deeply for. The sex I had was indiscriminate, and unexciting, in the main. Perfectly nice people, some of them were. But not enough, never enough. So keep on having sex – because whether you know it or not, you’re having my share too. And very glad I am too.

    • tallulahspankhead July 29, 2011 at 6:12 am

      I assume, Jackie, that you didn’t mean that ‘you’re having sex for me’ thing to sound quite so creepy as it does?

      I’d really like it if we didn’t equate bad sex with low self esteem. That may be the reason _you_ had bad sex, but it doesn’t hold true for many others, and there’s a really short step to ‘she’s a dirty slut, because she gives it out to anyone who asks. Oh, no, I just mean she doesn’t seem to value herself’ kind of idea.

  2. Thomas Beagle July 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    While I’m a wee way off having to deal with this… it’s funny how so many of the default “father/daughter scripts” assume that I’m going to want her to never have sex until she’s found the one perfect person (sorry, I mean man) to marry. Not very sex-positive!

    Oh well, it’s just one of the challenges of bring up a kid in our confused society. 🙂

    • Emma July 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Oh, yeah, when it comes to sex, apparently fathers are complete fuckwads.

      One of the other challenges: trying to find a puberty book for our kids that didn’t assume everyone is straight.

      • Isabel July 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        Oh dear lord, I’m going to need to find one of those puberty books in the foreseeable. I find it interesting that talking about how babies are made has been reasonably natural but I find extending it to “and people do this just for fun as well” is a much less comfortable conversation.

        • Emma July 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

          The book we got for boys is really excellent. It’s called Puberty Boy, by Geoff Price. It talks about homosexuality explicitly, and also has a section on dealing with emotions. Also details changes girls go through. It’s really well-written. You can borrow our copy if you want.

          • Isabel July 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm

            I might have a nose through it sometime 🙂 I think puberty is probably still a wee way off but in the last year or so the lad has gone from being oblivious to being embarrassed by the romantic bits in books so there’s obviously something changing.

          • Hugh July 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

            The book my parents gave me when I was 14, waaaaay back in the day, mentioned homosexuality but it was almost an afterthought. Less than one quarter of one chapter.

      • trills July 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

        Ever thought about writing one yourself? Sounds like there’s a niche there waiting to be filled.

        • Emma July 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

          The Puberty Boy and Puberty Girl books are really good, but they seriously took me some finding. Because it’s a basic assumption that it’s okay to say stuff like “You might be starting to notice girls…”

  3. Moz July 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you Emma! Celebrating the sex-positive people is well worth it. Even if it has taken me 20 years to become someone who can deal with them face to face 🙂 It’s like talking about relationships – my favourite poly quote is a woman leading a workshop saying “poly is for people who like talking about their relationships, and don’t get enough of that with only one partner”. The usual caveats apply, but I find it’s true for me too.

    One thing that I still find hard is telling the difference between someone who is happy to talk about sex, and someone who is coming on to me. Which has led to considerable confusion over the years. Mostly people assuming that if I’m willing to discuss it, I’m willing to do it. With them. Right now. And because, of course, blokes are always up for sex and nice girls never talk about it, actually asking was not something they did. I assume that effect is more pronounced for women who talk about sex.

    • Emma July 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Oh! I forgot to respond to this. I don’t think anyone I’ve talked to about this stuff has lept to the conclusion that I’m gunning to sleep with them. But then, if they had, it’s a fair bet I might not have noticed. Basically, I tend to assume that nobody I meet fancies me. It makes life simpler, right up until the point where it suddenly doesn’t.

  4. Deborah July 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    or that [sex] just isn’t important (I don’t get this, much as I don’t ‘get’ people who don’t actively enjoy food)

    Sex is Good.

    I’ll do the ‘yes, but…’ I don’t like the label ‘sex positive’ because of the implication that those who don’t use it are negative about sex, as you say in your post, Emma. Which I think is an excellent post. And I support it. But re sex positive / sex negative… I suppose what I would prefer is something like, ‘sex open’, or something that implied that a better approach to sex and sexuality is openness to the huge variety of human experience. Sex is great, if you want it. Celibacy is great, if you want it. Polyamory is great, if you want it. Asexuality is great, if you want it. Monogamy is great, if you want it.

    I enjoy sex, some of the time. Quite a lot of the time even. Even most of the time. But sometimes I’m fairly meh about it. I’d rather read a book, or eat chocolate. Even though in my monogamous relationship of over twenty years, sex has been getting better and better. Srsly.

    Having said that, I’m in the safe vanilla part of the spectrum (where I’m thinking of the sexual spectrum being more like one of those shaded colour circles rather than a line), so my kind of sexuality is socially sanctioned. I think that there is a huge need for sex positiveness, as a corrective to constrictiveness of socially sanctioned sexuality. And an even bigger need for a megafuckton of non-judginess when it comes to sexuality. Whatever floats your boat is just fine (provided that everyone involved is a consenting adult). More to the point, whatever floats your boat ought to be something that can be talked about and acknowledged and celebrated. So on balance, yes, there’s a lot more to be said in favour of being sex positive than agin it.

    I’d probably say, “Sex is good. But not obligatory.” But that’s a different post.

    • Emma July 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      See, “sex-open” wouldn’t be sufficient for me. And I was pretty explicit that this post was about the “for me”. Because what I’m describing here is about being actively positive about sex.

      I get a little tired of the “oh but you’re saying everyone else is sex-negative”, because seriously, nobody is saying that. Just like nobody is saying that sex should be obligatory. I said “for the vast majority of people”, I think that’s okay. And I’m not and never have been condemnatory of asexual people, or people with low sex drive. So I would like to be able to, explicitly, talk about MY experience, without feeling like I have to hedge it round to include everyone else’s as well. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s part of enjoying being around sex-pos people, because I don’t want to be in Debate Mode all the time.

      • tallulahspankhead July 29, 2011 at 6:22 am

        I’m the same. Saying you are sex-pos has to indicate some kind of action. Or rather, you have to be actively positive.

        Which isn’t to say that if you aren’t being actively positive, you’re being negative. Surely there’s a ‘neutral’ setting somewhere in there?

        One of the things I most value of my friendship with Emma, is that she basically, wittingly or not, outed me as liking the things I like. And she made it OK for that to be relatively public knowledge, because she had already done it, long before me. I’m significantly more open, and less embarrassed, by the things I like, because she made that OK. Plus, getting drunk with her and talking about sex? Massive, massive fun.

        To me, what it comes down to, is the same as what most of my feminism comes down to. Am I deliberately hurting myself or someone else? No? Then get the hell out of my way. I like what I like in the sack, and I don’t think (anymore) I should feel ashamed of that. Nor should I be ashamed to be experienced, nor of not being afraid to ask for what I want. In the same way that I am learning to celebrate my ‘curves’, I am learning to celebrate that actually, yes, people think I’m hot.

        To me, being sex-positive isn’t about saying “sex is good”. It’s about saying, “well, the idea of that squicks me out no end, but hey, if that’s what works for you, then more power to you.” The idea of not wanting sex very often, or in fact, only ever wanting it with one person ever again, gives me the heebeegebies. But hey, if that works for you, who am I to judge?

        • Deborah July 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

          I think we’re talking past each other a little, because we reach the same place i.e. “well, the idea of that squicks me out no end, but hey, if that’s what works for you, then more power to you.”

          Except that I’ve come across very little that squicks me out. There’s plenty of stuff that doesn’t appeal to me personally, but feeling squicked by it is a different response. I’m all for live and let live, which I think is where we reach common ground.

          I feel uncomfortable about the normative flavour of ‘positive’ but I really like the enabling flavour. I think that’s where I’m not quite hearing what Emma has to say, because I’m hearing it as normative as well as enabling (I’d say ‘permissive’ as in giving permission, but that has overtones I don’t like either, both in terms of the idea that people need to be be given permission c/f just being free to do what they like, and the usual negativity associated with permissiveness).

          I think that part of where this conversation runs awry in so many places might be the distinction between enabling and normative. If you hear ‘sex positive’ as enabling, then it’s a fantastic thing. If you hear it as normative, then the element of telling people how they ought to behave comes to the fore, and seems problematic.

          I think I need to hear it more as enabling.

          • Emma July 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

            Yeah, it’s totally not supposed to be normative. My experience is absolutely not that sex-positivity is normal. It’s the neutral middle ground that I’d consider normative.

            It IS supposed to be enabling, and to see why you really only have to look at the proportion of LGBT and non-vanilla material on sex-pos sites, and commenters who come out of the woodwork when you start talking about this stuff in a positive light. Celebratory, yes, but just as importantly, safe. Because out in the normal world, we are not always safe unless we hide.

    • Thomas Beagle July 29, 2011 at 7:01 am

      One facet of sex positive:

      “I think the world would be a better place if more people had more and better sex.”

      • Deborah July 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Or, “Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you.”

        How about, “The world would be a better place if people have the sex they want.”

        • Thomas Beagle July 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

          You’re right, I think the world would also be a better place if more people ate more good vegetables.

        • Thomas Beagle July 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

          More seriously, it wouldn’t be good sex if they didn’t want it.

        • Max Rose July 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

          A better analogy might be “The world would be a better place if more people ate more and better chocolate”. Unlike vegetables, most people acknowledge that chocolate makes them feel good, but they are sometimes made to feel guilty about it if they enjoy it more than moderately or don’t enjoy it in socially sanctioned ways, and a lot of people never get to experience really fine chocolate.

          What would a chocolate-positive world look like?

          People who really enjoy chocolate for its own sake wouldn’t be told that they really only ought to have chocolate on special occasions with that special someone, and that if they enjoy chocolate too immoderately that they’re only doing it to fill an emotional void.

          People would openly discuss what it takes to have a healthy chocolate life, and acknowledge that there are certain chocolate practices that could be bad for your health, without the assumption that because you love chocolate you’re automatically makes unwell.

          People who like gooey caramello will be able to acknowledge that some people prefer hard, bitter dark chocolate, and vice versa.

          While acknowledging that parts of the chocolate industry are rife with exploitation, that is not a reason to ban the sale of chocolate or assume that anyone in the chocolate industry is a sad, exploited, broken person. Instead, making the chocolate industry legal and well-regulated should raise the standards of chocolate and the working standards of those that sell it, and we can openly advocate for the establishment of fair trade practices. We might even find that some people sell chocolate because they like chocolate, they like making others happy through providing chocolate, and make good money doing so.

          When someone takes chocolate from you without your consent, you won’t be judged for how much you like chocolate or whether your chocolate was presented in a particularly enticing way.

          We can celebrate the joy of chocolate in all its rich diversity, rather than making anyone who loves chocolate feel guilty or calling them “chocoholics”. Calling chocolate “sinful, wicked and decadent” may still provide an added frisson for certain chocolate lovers, but it mostly just contributes to the commercialisation of chocolate rather than recognising that it is a vital and legitimate part of most people’s lives. And celebrating all that is good about chocolate won’t stop us from working to improve or eliminate bad chocolate, or acknowledging that for some people, chocolate will never interest them or will be at most a mildly pleasant occasional experience.

          And here’s where I might get a bit more controversial. “More people eating more and better chocolate” doesn’t expect everyone to like chocolate, but it does suggest that a lot of people who currently don’t see what all the fuss is about might have happier lives if they could explore more of what chocolate has to offer.

          Some people might have decided that they can take or leave chocolate, based on a lifetime of Cadbury Dairy Milk. Maybe if they tried some Schoc dark chocolate with chilli their lives would suddenly open up to a whole new world of fierce chocolatey delight, but society has always told them that it’s immoral and decadent to go looking for new chocolate experiences.

          Some people may have started off loving chocolate, and have stocked up on a lifetime supply of Whittakers. Now, Whittakers is good, tasty, wholesome chocolate, and most people would be delighted to enjoy it. But perhaps after a few years it’s starting to go a bit stale, and maybe you’d be tempted by a bit of a dalliance with a slender Lindt or a secret rendezvous with some fun but trashy Roses chocolates. Society tells you that brand loyalty is more important than enjoying the taste and texture of chocolate for its own sake, so instead you tell yourself that chocolate isn’t much to get excited about, and carry on with a fortnightly square of good old Whittakers.

          Perhaps we could get to the stage where everyone who wants to can proudly and openly say that no one chocolate will ever meet all their needs in life, and that variety and experimentation are part of what makes chocolate great. No-one would be called a chocoslut if they have more than 20 chocolates in their life; no-one would be accused of being afraid of committing to one chocolate; no-one would be made to feel pervy because they like watching other people have chocolate. Hell, you could even invite your friends around for a big old messy chocolate fondue, even it that does sound very Seventies, without being told that your taste in chocolate is perverse.

          That’s what it would mean to me to be chocolate-positive rather than just chocolate-open: acknowledging that chocolate is not for everyone, but realising that there are chocolate-negative pressures in society that stop a lot of people from realising all the diverse joys that glorious chocolate could bring to their lives.

          • tallulahspankhead July 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

            Man, I really want some chocolate now.

          • Emma July 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

            And I’m now having serious issues with what a walking fucking cliché I am. Because I was fairly “meh” about chocolate for years, and especially the expectation that all women just LOVE chocolate. And then I discovered that I DO like chocolate – as long as it’s dark and spicy. I’d say “I’m never going to look at a bar of Schoc Lime and Chili quite the same again… except I totally am.

          • Curvaceous Dee July 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm

            Max, that is a totally awesome comment! I think that may win the internet today.

            Mind if I quote this on my blog?

            (And if I hadn’t already had amazingly delicious hot chocolate at the Mexican Speciality Store in Ellerslie this morning, I would want some right now…)

            xx Dee

          • Max Rose July 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

            Dee: feel free. Chocolate was made to share 🙂

          • Curvaceous Dee July 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

            And my post quoting this great metaphor is now up here. (The majority of my blog is full of nudity, sex-positivity, educumacational stuff about dental dams and whatnot. You have been warned!)

            xx Dee

          • Isabel July 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm

            Don’t forget that going for the Whittakers doesn’t mean you can’t have creamy white tonight and then enjoy some fruit and nut tomorrow 😉

          • Thomas Beagle July 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

            Oh gosh. I think just read the first draft of the chocolate manifesto!

  5. Hugh July 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    To me most of the non sex-positive strands of feminist thought come not from the idea that sex is bad, just that sex is intensely special, and that if it doesn’t occur within certain parameters or contexts it’s somehow perverted, corrupted, etc etc.

    Gail Dines is a good example of this. She never says anything bad about sex as a concept, but she is very particular about exactly what sorts of sex she thinks people should have (while claiming she doesn’t want to be prescriptive, but I think that’s just hypocritical defensiveness).

    Unfortunately I have seen a lot of feminists identify themselves as sex positive when they really aren’t. To some people “sex positive” seems to mean “I am not opposed to the idea that sometimes some people will have man/lady sex”

    • Hugh July 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      And also, how can you make a post that references Alex Comfort’s “Joy of Sex” without including any beardy seventies pencil-drawn porn images?


    • tallulahspankhead July 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      Hugh, it’s a very good idea not to invoke Dines’ name around Emma and I.

      • Hugh July 29, 2011 at 1:04 am

        Well actually I specifically invoked her because she’s an example I know you guys are familiar with.

        • Emma July 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

          I spent some time last night thinking about whether or not I consider Dines sex-negative. I mean, Sheila Jeffreys and her political lesbianism, absolutely sex-negative.

          But yeah, I think I do. Way back I posted a link to a Penn and Teller Bullshit piece that featured a portion of one of her seminars, and she was talking about porn being degrading to women because it contained certain sex acts (anal to mouth and group, from memory). Now, to me, that’s sex-negative, because she’s saying, no matter the consent or how it’s performed, that act is degrading in and of itself.

    • Emma July 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Yeah, I mean, like I said to Deborah, to me, sex-positive means being actively positive about sex, not just failing to be negative about it. It’s like, if I say I’m short, I’m not implying everyone else is tall. There’s a whole range in between.

  6. Scar July 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    *Trans whine, feel free to ignore*
    It’s hard to be sex-positive when you’re either seen as utterly disgusting or extremely fetishised for traits you hate in yourself (some people with non-normative bodies may relate to this).
    It’s taken me a long time to just masturbate without feeling extremely guilty for enjoying having a vagina and breasts; it really kills the ‘positivity’ aspect when you know that people think you’re just a creepy autogynephiliac for feeling good about your own body.

    • Emma July 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      I can totally see where you’re coming from on this, Scar, because I think we can identify with the degree to which “good sex” comes from feeling good about your own body, or at least at peace with it. Can I say, I do hope it gets easier with time?

      • Scar July 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        I really hope it does as well. However, while people still hassle trans women for finding their own bodies sexy, there will always be the associated guilt. Perhaps that will go away eventually as society becomes more educated?

      • tallulahspankhead July 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

        I was going to say the same thing, about feeling positive about yourself being one of the keys to good sex. I also hope that gets better for you.

        Also on a vaguely related topic, there’s the link I put in this week’s roundup about feeling bad about _not_ being ‘hollered at’.

        The idea being that for trans women, and women who don’t fit beauty ‘ideals’, there can be a certain guilt that goes along with wishing you were ‘attractive’ enough to be harassed – and how othering that can be.

        I haven’t read all the comments, but there was some good discussion happening.

  7. Scar July 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Point of order; your comment implies that trans women can never fit beauty ideals. Some of us do. More than you’d imagine.

  8. Isabel July 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I love that you’re talking about this and I love that you’re being so inclusive. I know that a someone who is pretty much straight, vanilla, cis and currently monogamous I have a heap of privilege in this area but still, as a member of our society (and a woman to boot) almost every message I’ve ever had about sex is that I’m doing it wrong. Most of me loves that so many of the sex positive voices are from the LGBT and BDSM communities but there’s a tiny little bit of me (conditioned by all those past messages) that wonders if this isn’t going to turn into yet another way I’m doing it wrong. I know that this is my own shit but I am aware of there being conversations that I’m slower or less honest about joining in.

    • tallulahspankhead July 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Yeah, Is, I understand that, and I think that is what Deborah is kind of getting at, a little too. That when we’re being all ‘hey, look at us with our kinky sex and our openness and out freedom, etc’, there’s a little voice saying ‘why aren’t you like that, how can you be so damn vanilla and boring? You’re doin’ it wrong’.

      This is one of the reasons I don’t like the word Vanilla, because it often implies boring. Whereas, as one of my favorite people points out, vanilla is a fucking good flavour. It is delicious.

      What I would say is that for all _I_ identify as sex-positive, I don’t particularly identify with either of the two communities you mention, despite my… proclivities. Mostly, for me, I don’t much care what _anyone else_ is getting up to, as long as they are doing it safely and consensually, they have my support. And it would be lovely to feel like I, and other people, have that same support, but we don’t. There’s a long way to go before we have that.

      Someone recently said to me, in the context of some general flirting, ‘I clearly haven’t hurt you enough yet’. And it made my knees go a little weak. But later, I was thinking ‘God, imagine if someone had overheard that, and got the wrong idea. We’d be in so much trouble.’ It’d be nice to believe random eavesdropper wouldn’t think I’m a) a victim of some kind of assault, or b) a dirty perv. But that’s not the world we live in.

      I do understand where you are coming from, because I have issues with the idea of poly relationships. Not because I believe we are all naturally monogamous, but because I can’t imagine it working for me. And it’s an area where I really struggle to do what I try to preach with the sex-positive stuff. But I’m learning.

      • moz July 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

        I feel obliged to comment that one of the most kinky people I know loves vanilla… ice cream, also.

        Tallulah, I totally hear you on actually doing the sex-positive thing. It’s something I sometimes struggle with, and also something I really value about one of my partners – they’re amazingly comfortable with their sexuality, and wonderfully responsive. Which helped me feel more comfortable with my own sexuality. And that’s a step forward for me.

        Also, what works for me is quite situational. I suspect I’m more flexible than the average shaved monkey, but I don’t know that for sure (us not-really-a-sluts just don’t have the breadth of experience). But my experience has involved a fair bit of “ooh, I didn’t know that I liked that”. So for me it’s more a matter of not ruling out partners just because they’re into things I haven’t tried/thought about. Well, and ruling out ones who really want to do things I don;t want to do, regardless of how attractive they are in other ways.

        One day can we have a discussion about dealing with the fallout from partners who have been sexually abused? Coz that’s differently sex-positive and I don’t want to have that discussion here.

        • Isabel July 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm

          I think a lot of it can be very situational – I know there are things I’ve enjoyed with one partner that would have seemed ridiculous with the next. I’m also very aware that by choosing monogamy (and from what was, in hindsight, a very young age) I am exploring one area of my sexuality in depth at the expense of breadth of experience.

          • Emma July 30, 2011 at 9:45 pm

            And the thing I think would be really positive for everyone about a greater acceptance of polyamory is that it makes monogamy an actual choice, not just something you do by default because it’s the social expectation. And if it’s a social norm, or it’s “natural”, then where is the virtue in it?

      • Isabel July 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm

        Of all the things that someone could say about my sex life I think telling me I’m boring in bed would worry me the most.

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