While it pains me to admit it, I have two mutually exclusive sets of friends. One group I consider "vanilla" in nature. These are the friends that I have difficulty discussing most anything racy or titillating in nature with, and who most certainly do not want to hear it anyway. For example, in a mundane conversation my wife mentioned in passing how our bed was broken. Our friends immediately got red in the face and changed the conversation. We had not mentioned sex, and in fact the story was completely unrelated to anything risqué. On the other hand, different friends of ours, after finding ourselves bored on a Saturday night while sitting around and having a drink together, wanted everyone to load up and visit a local strip club. So there we were, having drinks and conversation similar to most middle-aged couples, except occasionally a topless girl would walk up to our table. These two examples are clearly direct opposites, but throughout most of our adult friendships a similar division has always been present. Until recently, I had given the differences between friends in this regard little thought. But one day while browsing the Internet I came upon a term that, once learned, caused several connections to click together in my head.

Sex Positive

The idea of being "sex positive" grew in response to both radical anti-pornography feminist arguments in the early 1980s and the largely white Christian cultural hegemony present in the American definition of morally healthy and approved sexual relationships. At its heart, being sex positive is a matter of perspective. A person supporting sexual relationships between two mutually consenting adults despite their own interest in that type of relationship is considered sex positive. Notice that the preceding statement makes no claim as to the 'appropriateness' of such an exchange, because such a distinction is often loaded with cultural baggage. So, someone who is sex positive would take no issue with a same-sex physical relationship between two adults, regardless of their own personal interest in such an activity, so long as it met the criteria of being a mutually consented experience. This is in contrast to many cultures' views where such a relationship is often frowned on socially and sometimes even barred by law. Essentially, sex positive implies that no individual should have power over what can and cannot be considered acceptable relationships outside of their own experiences.

Being sex positive is not the equivalent of being anti-religious or anti-feminist (though it is very revealing that both religious conservatives and militant feminists have espoused ideas from which sex positive movements grew as a reaction). For someone who is sex positive, it doesn't matter whether a person enjoys kissing girls or guys, but instead whether they are free to foster interpersonal relationships with like-minded individuals without fear of recrimination. While some feminists groups would argue that a woman should never participate in something like pinup photography because it objectifies females, a sex positive woman would argue that if pinup photography is something she enjoyed and to which she consented, then she should have the freedom to pursue it.

Il y a des moments dans la vie où la question de savoir si on peut penser autrement qu’on ne pense et percevoir autrement qu’on ne voit est indispensable pour continuer à regarder ou à réfléchir…

There are moments in life where the question of knowing whether one might think otherwise than one thinks and perceive otherwise than one sees is indispensable if one is to continue to observe or reflect…

Michel Foucault,

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