In my last blog I introduced the idea of the American view of sex. In this blog, I will expand further on the ramifications of such beliefs and its counter, the sex positive movement.
Much of Western society’s beliefs about sexuality are based on fear:
• fear of pregnancy
• fear of sexually transmitted infections
• fear of loss of one’s reputation
• fear of letting go
• fear of getting hurt
• fear of public opinion
There could be more, but these are the main ones, and these fears affect the decisions we make about the relationships we choose. Many people then end up staying in dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships based on these fears, where they feel stuck and unhappy in their beliefs. They may think, “That’s just the way it is, the way it has always been, and the way it is supposed to be.” Yet this is not true.
Erotophobe vs. Erotophiles
Those who fear and hate sexuality are called erotophobes, while those who appreciate or tolerate sexuality are called erotophiles. In our society, there seems to be a one sided war between the two. In essence, we see erotophobes insist that both sides—everyone—live according to their values, while erotophobes typically just want to be left to live their sex positive lives.
It seems we are being corporately taught erotophobic rhetoric about the naturalness of wedded bliss, female sexual reticence, and happily-ever-after sexual monogamy—a narrative pitting man against woman in a tragic tango of unrealistic expectations, snowballing frustration, and crushing disappointment. While significant evidence points to the opposite, we still generally hold the expectation that romance and sexual attraction can last a lifetime of coupled togetherness.
These unrealistic and unattainable expectations lead people to make decisions based on fear rather than facts and to trust those who want to take advantage of those fears. For example, sexual addiction is the latest tool of an erotophobic culture that labels sexuality as a dangerous evil temptation that must be constantly constrained and feared.
Neither sex addiction nor porn addiction is listed in the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) which is the manual used by mental health providers to diagnose mental illness. This is a hotly debated issue within the sexological field, and if you’d like more information, read more on the work of experts Marty Klein and David Ley.
A Shift To Sex Positive Mentality
Thankfully a change movement has started in recent years towards positive sexuality.
“Sex positivity is an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes.” Source: Sex Positive Movement, Wikipedia.
The International Society for Sexual Medicine defines it as having positive attitudes about sex and feeling comfortable with one’s own sexual identity and the sexual behaviors of others. They describe sex positive people as having the following traits:
• Open to learning about sex, sexual activity, understanding their bodies as well as their partner’s bodies as well as the emotional and psychological aspects involved in sexual intimacy
• Understand the importance of safer sexual practices for both themselves and their partners. This includes physical safety, from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as emotional and psychological safety.
• Believe sex is a healthy part of life that needs to be enjoyed and discussed without shame or awkwardness or as a taboo subject
• Acknowledge that there are times when they and/or their partner are not in the mood for sexual activity
• Accept others’ sexual practices as long as the participants are consenting and feel safe without moral judgment even when others’ behaviors are very different from their own
Given this new body of information, we could conclude that the way people have looked at sexuality and relationships has been changing throughout time and it will continue to do so. Change is a force in our world that continues to happen and people have always found themselves in one of two camps: those who fear change and fight against it and those who embrace change and learn to adapt.
Sex positive erotophiles want to embrace change, explore the various options, and expand education and communication about sexuality for everyone to know what options are available and let others choose what is best for themselves.
My blog will be addressing the wide expanse of sex and sexuality and the many variety of topics that come up in connection with it. If you have questions, I invite you to ask. I look forward to exploring healthy sexuality together! If you are needing more direct or specific support, I invite you call for a free consultation.