Positively Sex-Positive

20121003-100758.jpgPolyamory has become quite the catch-all term for any type of non-monogamy, ethical or, unfortunately, more often not. At least in my limited experience. Although, I’ve started to get involved in the San Francisco sex-positive scene, and I’m very hopeful from what I’ve seen and experienced so far that those unethical players giving polyamory a bad name is something relatively unique to my former community…and will soon be only a distant memory. I’ve been to an event at Mission Control, and it was awesome. Hoping to attend PINK next weekend and Kinky Salon shortly after that. I love it here. The consciousness and support and integrity and self-awareness, both on the individual and community level, is truly wonderful.

Sex-positive. Another trendy term, coined by Wilhelm Reich and more recently popularized by Dan Savage. I just looked that up on Wikipedia. No time or energy for more research than that because for the past two weeks I’ve been busy renovating a beautiful house with panoramic lake views into an elegant home. My own little slice of heaven.

Additionally, several of my pieces, both short stories and poetry, are about to be published in various publications and anthologies, and I just had a great conversation with my agent about exciting things ahead. My future looks bright and successful and exciting. Fuck yeah.

Moving on.

There is a great discussion on a local SF community forum on what “sex-positive means to you.” The responses vary, but it all revolves around the concept that sex is beautiful and wonderful and natural, and that one should never feel ashamed of their sexuality or for enjoying sex.

Sounds lovely.

I was raised Catholic. Guilt and shame built in from a very early age. I remember reading a book called The Sensuous Woman back when I was 18. The year was 1987. The premise of the book was this:

You’re not a great beauty-supermodel, so you’ve got to learn mad-sexy-skills in order to keep a man.

Dangerous for a fairly sheltered 18-year-old woman who was coming to terms with her sexuality. At that time, the book confirmed that my sexuality was all that was worth anything to a man. If I couldn’t sexually please him, continuously, I was, in essence, worthless. And I’d be replaced. Quickly.

I believed the premise because thus far in my budding sexual life, that had already been supported by more than one man guy.

So skills I learned.

I sensually ate an ice cream cone, learning various fellatio techniques sure to drive a man wild. I took ballroom dance lessons so I could learn to follow a man’s every move. I did Kegel exercises, terrified that I wouldn’t be tight enough. I used feminine deodorant because I was certain that I smelled bad “down there.” I did all the book suggested, until it came to the chapter that was not optional, according to the book:


I was ashamed just reading the word. Horrified. I couldn’t do that, I mean…it was sinful, right? I couldn’t touch myself…but, finally, my dying belief in organized Christianity gave way to the importance of being able to “keep a man,” so I tried it. I used a running bath faucet so I wouldn’t actually have to touch myself, not that I thought it was gross or anything, but the guilt was magnified somehow if it was my own hand, and I couldn’t relax enough to make any headway.

So, running water it was.

That’s how I learned to have an orgasm. The book was right about the importance of masturbation and learning to have glorious orgasms. Over the years, I’ve gone from being able to let go just enough to have one orgasm to being a multi-orgasmic squirter who can come with as little as some nipple stimulation, if I’m turned on enough. Sometimes, even whispering sexy things into my ear can make me come. Yep. “Volatile,” as one once put it.

So…I’m all about sex-positivity. I love sex, and I worked very hard for at least a decade, studying Tantra and sacred sexuality and more, to get over the guilt and shame around my sexuality.

Or, at least, I did love sex. Past tense. Now as a rape survivor, I find it rather disgusting. Just another lasting gift from my rapist. Thanks.

Still, here’s hoping that’s temporary.

Back to sex-positivity…Like I said, I’m all about sex-positivity, ideally. Just like I’m all about polyamory, ideally. But what I’ve seen in practice is taking these beautiful concepts and, as in so many things when selfish, irresponsible people get involved, bastardizing it.

Sex-positivity isn’t a sexual free-for-all, sticking your cock into anything that moves, or sticking anything even remotely phallic-shaped–human, animal, or inanimate–into various orifices with anyone, anywhere, anytime, without integrity or responsibility for one’s own actions, not to mention responsibility to one’s partners.

I spoke with a friend the other day who has some friends who claim to be “polyamorous” and “sex-positive,” and all they talk about is sex. All they try to do is get my friend and their partner to join them in an orgy. Again. And again. And again. No matter how many times my friend says that they’re not interested, this “sex-positive, polyamorous” couple keeps pressuring them to join them in an orgy. And, furthermore, the “sex-positive, polyamorous” couple claims that because my friend and their partner doesn’t want to fuck them in this orgy, they want to continue their friendship as it’s been, that my friend and their partner are not “sex-positive.”



Additionally, my perception of “sex-positivity” in my former community was validated yesterday by a dear friend of mine back in Austin. They said that they noticed a certain “pathological aspect” in a facet of the local “sex-positive” community. They said that their perception of “sex-positivity” in this facet was “something like a nine-year-old’s notion of freedom of choice when left unsupervised overnight in candy store.”

Beautifully and quite accurately put.

I noticed the very same feeling in other facets of that same “sex-positive” community, a certain lack of responsibility and integrity all while spouting fancy words and trendy ideas about responsibility and integrity. There is a very big difference between responsible and ethical sex-positivity/healthy sexual freedom and a hedonistic free-for-all, no matter who is hurt as long as you get off. As I’ve briefly mentioned, I’ve either experienced directly or heard stories about people who fuck animals, justify incest, hide STDs, and excuse rape, all under the umbrella of “radical inclusion” and “sex-positivity.”

One of my biggest problems with some sex-positive communities, including my recently former one, is their absolute refusal to address sexual assault and rape, to even open a discussion about it.

Um. Hello?

It is VERY SEX POSITIVE to raise awareness about sexual assault, especially how to avoid suffering it and inadvertently committing it and how to handle it as a community when it happens. A truly sex-positive friend says that “sex critical” is very “sex positive,” and I agree with her. She’s also a survivor. Have I mentioned just how many I’ve met? Virtually every. single. woman., and quite a few men, have told me they are also survivors. It is an issue. It needs to be addressed. And it is *very* sex-positive to do so.

Sex is fun and wonderful and glorious, and it is nothing to be ashamed of…when it’s SAFE.

Being present with your lover is sex-positive.

Knowing when they check out or are triggered or can’t react because of being frozen in shock or fear is sex-positive.

Learning to be a more caring, compassionate lover is sex-positive.

Learning to care for the entire person and not just use their body as an ejaculatory tool is sex-positive.

Taking responsibility for your actions and to the relationship, no matter how casual or serious, no matter how short-lived or how long-lived, is sex-positive.

Be sex-positive and don’t steal someone else’s sexuality by violating their boundaries, even inadvertently. And if you do, own it. Fix it. Apologize for it. Through your responsibility and compassion, you will help your LOVER heal, your community will respect you more, and you will grow as a loving, sex-positive human being.

***SERIOUSLY*** just an ounce of human kindness, compassion, and an apology goes so very far…

Fortunately, as I said above, I have high hopes for the San Francisco community from the little I’ve already seen and experienced here. I’ve been warned that there are less-responsible facets within the overall community when it comes to “unwanted touching,” i.e. sexual assault, and personal as well as community responsibility around such things, both sexually and emotionally, but I’m hopeful because the community as a whole is aware of such things and openly discuss it. That’s already a HUGE difference and improvement from Austin.

As for me, I think actually having sex is still in the distant future, even with my husband. But when I do open my legs again, I will be ready to open my heart, too. They go together. Although some of the “mad-skills” I learned 24 years ago might be a bit rusty, I’m still a very considerate lover. I’m a skilled lover. A giving lover. A compassionate lover. A highly passionate lover. When I’m with a man, he feels as if there is no one more beautiful or sexier on the face of the planet. I worship and adore him, all of him, and he will reciprocate in kind.

Because, if he wants (and can handle) my pussy and my multiple, wet orgasms, then he will also respect and care for my tender heart, my sharp mind, my loquacious tongue, and my fractured soul with love, compassion, and integrity.

We’re a package deal.

I’m so much more than my pussy.

I am a true goddess on all levels of being, and only a true god would recognize and respect that, and treat me accordingly.

That’s sex-positive.

~ by omgrey on October 3, 2012.

18 Responses to “Positively Sex-Positive”

  1. I’m glad to see you are healing. Most of what you said about the “bad” sex positive groups is like the Free Love Movement in the 60’s where Men used that to pressure women into sex.

    I think you have the right handle on the sex positive idea and am very glad you shared it. You must be an amazing lover and I hope you heal enough to be that and more once again.



    • Thank you, Clint! I hope so, too!!!

      And, yes. I am indeed healing. Leaps and bounds now. 🙂

      It’s funny you should mention the 60s and “free love,” as that’s exactly what I thought as I was walking out of Starbucks after writing this post this morning. I feels very similar to that. It started so beautifully, but then it was ruined by greedy, lascivious, selfish people saying the pretty words and wearing bell bottoms and love beads, using spirituality and the pursuit of peace and love as a cover to exploit and use women.

      Then they chalk it all up to, “Freedom, man! Freedom! Don’t bring me down.”

      It’s bullshit.

      It’s what killed the movement.

      I’m seeing that trend now.

      • Same thing could be said about most religions too. Greedy, selfish people wanting to ruin other peoples lives in the pursuit of power. (Instead of sex)

        The sure thing to do in both is to educate people. Enlighten them. Then the jerks who want to use something beautiful as a weapon have less power.

      • Exactly. It’s about shining the light in the dark corners of abuse and abuse of power, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

        Shine on. Shine on.

        Sex and power. It’s all about power, isn’t it? With these abusers and sociopaths it sure is. Sex or religion or politics, all attract this type of power-hungry abuser. And they do take something beautiful and use it for their own benefit while others are hurt.

        Not okay.

        Let’s keep shining that light and minimizing their power. Indeed.

      • I feel a need to point out a distinction that may sound trivial, but I think it isn’t.
        There are, I think, two very different kinds of transgressors (who can be male or female) that get lumped together:

        1) There are psychopaths/sociopaths, to whom all other humans have about the same significance as farm animals – people who do not, cannot, never will care about anyone. Such calculating predators sometimes drift into alternative communities, simply because such communities often try harder to be open-minded, judge less by mainstream standards, so these people can pass for awhile..

        2) People who are escaping some kind of heavy control or repression (that they perhaps never believed they would or could escape) sometimes act like the proverbial kid in a candy store for awhile, until someone shakes them and makes them realize they are hurting people. This is especially so when the bonds being broken are so-called ‘moral’ rules. People who were heavily indoctrinated as children to see the world in two sharply divided categories -those who followed The Rules, and those who are Of Satan (or whatever), who supposedly followed no rules at all…
        Such people often escape this indoctrination only in stages. When they first realize there’s a whole world living outside the rules they were raised with, they tend to gap the fact that there are still rules out here – more subtle rules of civility and respect, that we follow not because God Said So, but for more subtle reasons like we wish to do no harm..

        The difference:

        The second (far more common) kind is an immature person going through a phase, and will probably eventually become a decent, more responsible person. A community that is still small and growing quickly, and consists almost entirely of people who were not raised within that community is, of course, flooded with this sort of social refugee. Its a big problem, but it will eventually get better…and we as a community will eventually get better at helping these people make the transition (if the gay community is any indication..).

        The first (thankfully far more rare) kind will almost certainly never get over it, can only be defended against.

      • Agreed.

        Although that’s an explanation, it’s not an excuse for the damage either causes.

        Sociopaths are said to occupy 4% ofte population, narcissists another 1%. And, as in everything, there is a spectrum of severity.

        Statistics show that 1 out of 16 men have or will rape. My guess is that is a low estimate if we take the sexual assault spectrum into consideration and broaden the culturally understood definition of SA/rape to fit the actual trauma caused by such actions.

        One doesn’t have to be a full-blown sociopath incapable of empathy to be a full-blown selfish misogynistic (misandrous) asshole who takes delight in the power of devastating others and increasing notches on his/her bedpost at any cost. Rape is rape. Abuse is abuse, whether it comes from that kid-in-a-candy-store place or whether it comes from something altogether more pathological, albeit more rare. The result is often the same.

        Like the analogy made by my friend, we don’t need a group of emotional 12-yr-old taking what they want and saying/doing whatever they need to get that, even if it means by coercion or force, emotional or physical.

        Bottom line, abuse is about power and control, whether a diagnosis had been made or not.

        I hope that communities are getting better at dealing with it and weeding it out. People aren’t toys. They bodies and hearts aren’t part of a game or a trophy to obtain.

        As far as SA/rape goes, the dialogue at least must happen. Both men and women will have to allow themselves to face some uncomfortable truths about what they have done and what they’ve endured to even begin to address this seriously prevalent problem.

        And I just don’t see that happening yet.

        We need more courage and self-awareness in these communities. Sex and love are deeply powerful forces that can destroy when used as weapons or a means to an end.

        In our supposed more enlightened and self-aware sex-positive/sexually alternative communities, we need to look at these difficult issues as part of the lifestyle, as part of a healthy relationship and community style.

        Until that happens, nothing will change. As long as people minimize and *normalize* emotional abuse, sexual assault, and cruelty in relationships, no matter how long or deep, nothing will change.

        Thank you so much for your comments!

  2. It’s really such a shame that there are so many issues within the sex positive movement because I and many around me grew up thinking that sex outside of marriage (or for some of us, outside of having children) made you a bad person. Eventually I learned to be more sex positive, but a lot of that was almost undone with the virgin-shaming and asexual/demisexual erasure I came across. I know it sounds a little weird to hear someone say they’re sex positive yet they personally dislike having sex, but I had thought the community would be a bit more open. It’s appalling to hear that rape is another topic that some are willing to dismiss.

    However, I have come across many sex positivie folks who are focused on education rather than forcing their views onto someone. That’s what I see sex positivity about: learning everything you can about this complex act and making the decision that works for you.

    • Beautifully put!

      Yes! It’s about learning about all of it, not just mad-sex-skills, but about triggers and insecurities. About emotions and individuals.

      Thank you for your comment. I’m hoping to meet many more truly sex-positive people who aren’t afraid of “drama” and who act with respect and integrity.

      Yes, please.

  3. What a insightful, intense, and thorough post to come across. Thank you for sharing your experience. I don’t have the background as a survivor to know what that would be like, but I do have some experience in the poly/sex-positive community.

    I too have found that many of the social gatherings with poly-amorous peeps (not all of which identify themselves as sex-positive.. although most do) have a high number of people that seem to be seeking casual sex with multiple partners. It actually seems similar in many ways to the stage of dating (regardless of identifying as poly/mono) when one is just meeting partners for the first time, before deciding to go “steady” or not.

    That being said, there are still gems hidden within the community (gems to me, since they are the like-minded individuals I identify with) that seek long-term romantic sexual relationships with more than one person.

    I would much rather spend my time exploring and deepening relationships with these people, although it’s sometimes hard to identify their dating trends straight off. I’m finding it easier, the more experience I have with dating in the poly community.

    I’m looking forward to meeting more like-minded people :o).

    • Thank you, Josiah, for your comment.

      Insightful and intense. Yep. That’s me. 🙂

      I wish you all the best in finding your hidden gems, and those would be gems for me as well. Far too many are seeking casual sex without personal responsibility, and that’s just not polyamory to me. Or, if it is, then I’m not polyamorous. In fact, I’ve stopped identifying as such, as the terms has lost all meaning for me.

      I would love to spend time deepening and exploring relationships with people who are also looking for loving, committed relationships, but I find that I get hurt far too deeply by those who are claiming they’re looking for this but have no idea how to actually invest in a relationship. I’m not so good at recognizing dating trends or people with integrity, turns out.

      I’ve written extensively on my disenchantment with “polyamory,” including the very angry & cathartic post called “Poly vs. Amory” that talks about this casual dating trend.

      Thank you again for your comment. I hope to see you around here more often! 🙂

  4. […] Original Blog Post […]

  5. […] was written nearly two years ago. Please consider reading some of my more recent work on polyamory, sex, and […]

  6. […] Or, the other kind of people I’ve found are players, predators, sex addicts, or people who have such “taboo kinks,” they have slipped past “kinks” into sexual perversions, like incest and animals. I’ve written more about this in a post called Positively Sex Positive. […]

  7. O. M. Grey, you are a powerful writer.
    Your rape survivor acknowledgement in the middle of this post was so unexpected, hits like a punch in the gut. (as it should, I now think. conveying part of the experience).
    It just made me melt, want to reach out to you in some way.
    Hope all is healing and healthy and happy in your world.

  8. […] place for them because we sure wouldn’t want to discuss anything “negative” in a “sex-positive” community, even if it means stopping rapists in their tracks by not giving them a space to […]

  9. […] Positively Sex Positive […]

  10. […] Again, I don’t know first hand. Although I’ve toyed (again with the game terminology) with some submissive tendencies, I’ve always made it verbally clear beforehand that I was not, by any means, into humiliation or pain. I have had partner not respect those boundaries, which means those encounters crossed into the realm of sexual assault and rape. Two things very common in BDSM, polyamorous, and other sex-positive communities. […]

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