How to Battle Sex-Negativity

Sex-negativity is the mentality that basically asserts that sex is wrong. Have you ever heard someone call another person who has slept with a lot of people, “dirty?” That is sex-negativity. Have you ever heard someone say that non-monogamy is “gross” or “immoral?” That is sex-negativity. Sex-negativity, at bottom, is the stigmatization of sexual freedom.

In modern times, sexuality is much freer than it was even twenty years ago, let alone a century ago. Nonetheless, sex-negativity is still a major problem in our world. People are still afraid to be who they are sexually due to the pervasiveness of sex-negativity. For instance, people still hide their non-monogamy because they are worried about the sexually-negative backlash they might receive from those around them.

It is clear that all sex-negativity serves to do is produce misery. Misery in those who wish to be sexually free, in their hiding and suppression; and misery in those who are sex-negative themselves, in their anger and ignorance. 

This article serves to provide solutions to the problem of sex-negativity, in the hopes of

combatting it and reducing the misery that it produces in the world.

We Need to Understand Sexuality

Sex-negativity can take two distinct forms: prejudice and discrimination. As with any other form of prejudice and discrimination, ignorance is almost always the cause. Sexism arises due to ignorance of whichever sex one is sexist towards; racism arises due to ignorance of whichever racial group of people one is racist towards. So too with sex-negativity.

Hence, there are societal and cultural norms that need to be incentivized in order to combat sex-negativity. The first is improved sexual education. Sexual education in the United States, for instance, is explicitly sex-negative –it promotes total abstinence and makes sex seem like only a risk (it fails to mention any of the positive aspects of sex, like love, connection, and, well, feeling good!) Sex education needs to make it clear that sexuality is a very diverse array of behaviors and feelings, and serious discussions in classrooms need to be had on how to handle such feelings appropriately, rather than just suppressing all of them outright. 

The second norm is more interpersonal. We need to encourage ourselves and others to have an empathetic dialogue with others when we do not understand something. For instance, let’s say you have a friend who tells you that they are opening up their relationship. Sadly, due to the influence of sexual negativity, many people will gasp or even outright insult that person for their decision. This reaction is due to pure ignorance of what an open relationship is. The sort of reaction we should have instead is that if we don’t understand what certain sexual feelings or behaviors are, we should ask others –from a place of a genuine wish to understand and empathize– what such behaviors and feelings entail and why they are like that.

Ultimately, the way sex-negativity will be combatted will be via one route: getting it through people’s heads that one cannot help how they feel sexually. People who are hetero, bi, or gay cannot help but be these things. And by understanding this fact alone, it makes no sense to see such forms of sexuality as “wrong” or “gross.” 

Also, understanding the fact that sexuality is not a testament to one’s moral worth or personal value will be a crucial fact to get through people’s heads. Much of sex-negativity entails describing sexually active people as “bad.” There is nothing wrong with being sexually active and this needs to be honed in upon through sexual education. The only moral arguments given for such badness derive from religion, thus are antiquated and should be ignored. When we put religion to the way-side when we think about the moral weight of sexuality, it makes absolutely no sense to call sex “bad.”

Of course, sex carries its risks, like sexually transmitted diseases; and of course, some sexual acts are immoral, like bestiality, rape, and statutory rape. However, it would be absurd to equate such acts with open relationships or LGBTQ sexuality, as sex-negativity so often does; likewise, it would be absurd to assert that the abovementioned risks are the only results of sex. If we are going to advertise the risks of sex in our educational system, we ought to also advertise the benefits as well.

At bottom, big changes in our culture and society need to occur to combat sex-negativity. The best any ordinary citizen can do right now to combat it, however, is to educate themselves as much as they possibly can.

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