When I sat down to brand myself (livestock pun intended), "sex-positive" and "modern lovers" quickly stood out from the pack of near synonyms and repetitive terms I listed over and over again. This, my first blog post, is my attempt to explain why. I guess it could also be read as a manifesto for my practice. Please forgive the dramatic tone, but few moments in life seem to beg for it so convincingly.
At the heart of my practice is a concept that I believe is not owned or defined by any one group, but rather is a growing philosophical and political movement: "sex-positivity". For me, this term encompasses the reasons behind and consequences resulting from a very simple idea: sexual connection is not inherently bad, dirty, shameful, or dangerous. Instead, desire, pleasure, and the physical and emotional benefits of a healthy sex life are ends to be sought out in their own rights. While there are, of course, negative outcomes of sex, the beneficial should not be thrown out with the risky. The desire at the root of the act is human and beautiful; dangerous consequences typically occur because of circumstantial factors. (More about this in a future blog post)
What is considered “natural” and subsequently “right” is often based on assumptions that sex is risky, dangerous, immoral.
However, American culture is particularly sex-negative at the moment (for a radical and detailed explanation of why this is and "so what?", check out Sex Outside the Lines.) What is considered “natural” and subsequently “right” is often based on assumptions that sex is risky, dangerous, immoral. Pleasure sought out for itself is selfish, shameful, or just wrong. What if, instead, the sexual desire we all feel, and which drives so much of our culture, could be celebrated? What if a shame free relationship with our desire became a "normal" part of a healthy adult life?
Think of your own life, your childhood, and your own sexual and emotional wants. Have you been told to keep these under wraps, as private thoughts that shouldn't be shared? Many people never contact their true desires, never explore or embrace them because they were told they are wrong just for wanting. To me, celebrating our sexual pleasure is moral, political, spiritual, and deeply human.
In light of this, my blog posts will always practice radical sex-positivity in perspective and language. If you get offended, so be it. I’m going to practice what I preach, and celebrate my sexual philosophy in new ways everyday.
Next, why “modern lovers"? Modernity, by definition, is constantly unfolding into more bizarre and wonderful permutations, and this moment offers a particularly ripe form of modernity. (That said, please don't get a big head. Always remind yourself that we are the bigots of the future.) But here and now, we exist in a unique moment; the rights of the modern individual have become the central driving force of political and social change: Women's suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement, radically fast shifts in queer rights (have we named those decades yet?), and now a fierce focus on institutional discrimination and the effects of systemic exclusion. In these moments can be found a certain social trajectory (or pendulum swing?) which has brought us to where we are today: the rights of the individual take precedence over nearly everything else. What are we to do the moment we've found ourselves in?
I propose the following: Make your own path. Fight for your wants. Never forget those around you and never assume what is best for you is best for them. Try to see the humanity in diversity and the power of compassion. I see modernity around me today looking like rejecting shame, fighting for the unique sound of your voice, and constantly trying to see the bigger picture, the reality outside ourselves.
But here and now, we exist in a unique moment; the rights of the modern individual have become the central driving force of political and social change.
Based on the foundational view that desire, pleasure, and intimate connection are intrinsically beautiful, healing, and life-affirming, I support those that are ready to abandon shame in order to become better connected with others. I do this because I feel called to it, but also because I feel that it is deeply needed in our society. In the face of constant violence in the world, teaching humans to connect and empathize with each other seems to be the only “teach a man to fish” kind of solution possible. Perhaps, if we can make peace with ourselves, even if society tries to say we are wrong or less-than, we can make peace with each other. Call me idealistic or the heir to the hippies, but the sex-positive modern lover has a unique opportunity here and now.