What Sex-Positivity Isn’t

la deutsche diva bremen city aktion bodylove silvana.jpg

Like feminism, sex-positivity has become a more globally recognized movement in recent years. Also like feminism,

it’s been co-opted into something that it’s not. In this case: sex performativity.


My friends Dawn & JoEllen have a fabulous podcast on this topic that has stuck with me nearly a year after listening. I absolutely suggest taking an hour and giving it a listen.


Here’s the crux of it:

Sex-positivity doesn’t mean you have sex a certain way – in fact that’s the exact opposite of what it’s about! It doesn’t mean you’re kinky or poly or even sexual. It doesn’t even mean, “I love sex!”

Instead, sex positivity honors, accepts, & celebrates that human sexuality is diverse and broad. It recognizes that sexual pleasure is important to all of us. It invites us to acknowledge that pretty much any consensual behavior might be right for someone and that nothing is right for everyone.

Making this distinction is important to me both professionally and personally. Professionally, for obvious reasons: I’m in the business of helping women move through their shame and find #freedominpleasure, whatever that looks like for them. Personally, it’s important because I’m relatively vanilla for a sex educator. I haven’t had many sexual partners. I’m not into kink. At this point I have no interest in being anything other than monogamous.

But these aren’t what connect me to my colleagues and this movement.

Here’s what does:

  • Inquiry into what sex really is and how to make it better in your own way
  • Dedication to dismantling the shame around sex
  • Desire to view sex as something natural & normal, and break the taboo around it
  • Questioning sexual norms & standards thrust onto us by society
  • Accepting all forms of sexuality, gender, & gender identity.
  • Fighting the BS misinformation, harmful stereotypes & advice
  • Fight for the rights of all people, regardless of sexuality, gender, gender identity

Here’s how that plays out in what my friend calls my “vanilla with a dash of cayenne lifestyle”:

My monogamy is a choice that the beau and I regularly revisit– are we happy with it? Is this something we want to keep or change? We aren’t monogamous because that’s just what we’re “supposed to” do but rather because it’s the relationship structure that works best for us right now. If at some point that changes, we’re ok with that.

Similarly, we regularly talk about out sex life – what we’re happy with, what we want to change, and what we’d like to try. It’s ok that this last list doesn’t include anything beyond light kink.

One note: at this point these talks are woven into our relationship. They aren’t scheduled because we know we can bring the topic up at any time. However, if you are not having these conversations regularly, I highly recommend scheduling them and/or having some structure until you and your beau(s) are more comfortable. Not sure how to start talking about sex with your beau? Click here.

We don’t judge our sex life based on anyone else’s desires but our own. I love reading research (like this poll on women’s masturbation habits) about sexual habits and I love reading sex advice. But I don’t rely on it – instead I use it for inspiration. I pay close attention to my reaction to whatever I’m reading – if it makes me feel uncomfortable, why? What’s underneath that? If it makes me excited, I usually share it with my beau. If not, I file it away for potential use with a client or workshop.

Pieces of this probably look like your sex life while other parts may be too boring OR too adventurous for your tastes. That’s cool! Like your sex life, you get to do sex-positivity your way.


Kait xo



If you enjoyed this post, please consider becoming a patron of Continuum.

Find more from Kait Scalisi and learn how you can work with her to create a custom pleasure workshop at PassionbyKait.com.

Kait Scalisi