Some people in the lefty / progressive / social justicey sphere of loosely affiliated movements online have disagreements on important issues. That’s fair. The DiscourseTM is meant to help us all improve our ethics, work toward a better world. You don’t have discourse without coming from at least slightly different positions. However, there are some positions people take that are so wrong they tempt me to throw my hands up and give that conversation a pass.
Too often, I see these things coming from people in asexual advocacy. I’m writing this article as an invitation to asexual people that hold those positions to give me the justifications that will change my mind, because I haven’t seen them yet, and I feel like my eyeballs are being poisoned just looking at these things on tumblr. So without further ado, my beeves:
“Sex positivity is bad! It’s a way to justify abuse and sexual coercion!” Apparently, some asexuals even refer to advocates of sex positivity as “sex pozzers,” a delightful way to reduce something and make it easy to dismiss. OK, I will absolutely grant that some people use the language of sex positivity to play the victim when people call them out for coercive or creepy behavior. Those are the kind of people that are most likely to accuse someone of kinkshaming. For example: Creep sends unsolicited bizarre sex fantasy scenario to a person on a dating site. Recipient says “yuck” and the sender cries “don’t shame my kink! That’s sex negativity!”
However, this is not a reasonable argument against sex positivity. ANY CONCEPT CAN BE MISUSED. Feminism can be misused. See SWERFs and TERFs. (I’ll be getting back to one of those in a minute.) Prominent male feminists have turned out to be serial harassers. Atheism is used to promote islamophobia and racism, which makes it no less true. Anti-racism can be misused. White guy sends unwanted advances to Asian lady, she says don’t creep, he cries racism. It doesn’t mean that anti-racism is an invalid concept. That’s fucking absurd.
So in case your opposition to sex positivity is based entirely on misunderstanding the term, here’s my understanding: Sex is natural and normal for people to engage in. They should not be shamed or abused for being sexual, within the bounds of consenting acts between adults. That’s it. Why is this important? Two reasons immediately spring to mind. One, sexual disgust is the basis of most homophobic oppression. Look at the propaganda used by US Xtian fucklords to promote ant-LGBT violence and state persecution in Uganda, Russia, Jamaica, etc. It is ENTIRELY based on presenting sex acts as disgusting. To see sex as positive in its various forms is a way of fighting against that.
And two, shaming people for the amount of and types of sex they have is the basis of much misogynist oppression, especially in the domain of women’s health and reproductive rights. Sex positivity and fighting against slut shaming directly fight back against those who would use promiscuity as an excuse to brutalize and oppress others. It’s so important, I’d go so far as to say it’s essential.
Take another look at that sentence. I’ll drop a few words from it to show why sex positivity is something you should relate to. Shaming people for the amount of sex they have… That can go both ways, as you’re well aware. Being shamed for not having sex is a thing, I’m given to understand. Being shamed for having too much or the wrong kind is something I’m more familiar with, but I won’t shit on your struggle if you don’t shit on that of others.
Back to SWERFs. Many asexual advocates are also SWERFs, or Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Their views line up perfectly with those of right wing religious opposition to pornography and sex work on pretty much every level. Given that keeping sex work illegal or on the margins of law prevents meaningful regulation that can save lives, given that it’s part of the reason prostitution is the single most dangerous profession in the USA, you’re going to need a mountain of evidence to convince me this is a reasonable position. And even then, I’ll take the word of sex workers over people who are admittedly “sex repulsed,” when it comes to matters of major impact on their lives and livelihoods.
So this is the invitation. If you think sex work and pornography are wrong and bad, if you think sex positivity is a bad thing, tell me why. This is the last time I’m going to invite comment on the matter, because real sex negativity – not reasonable exercise of consent, but the demonization of sexual people – is hateful to me, and I’d rather not see it.
EDIT – To be clear, not all advocates for asexual people are overly sex negative, oppose sex positivity, or are SWERFs. I’m also fine with people not caring about this topic so much because they perceive it as having minimal impact on their lives. This post is directed at those who allow their own distaste for sexuality to promote ideas harmful to others.