What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex Critical

So, I saw on Tumblr this awesome post by Pervocracy about what sex positive means to them. I really love and agree with their post, and it made me consider my critique of “sex positive” as a catch-all term and why I tend to not identify with it generally (though probably would if Pervocracy’s definition was more widespread). I’m also very much influenced by this post, The Ethical Prude by Lisa Millbank, particularly this bit, which I recommend.

What I mean when I say I’m Sex Critical:

  • I believe that we all deserve the agency to engage with and explore informed consensual sexuality as much or as little as we personally desire to do so
  • I believe/agree that sexual pleasure is a legitimate thing to desire and ethically pursue, both in conjunction with other things (love, spirituality) or as an end to itself
  • I strive to not judge people for the consensual sex that they have or want
  • I also critique the construct of “consent” in a society that exists under systems of oppression/privilege- rather, I think we should work to minimize coercion while acknowledging that the possibility of internal and external pressure may still be at work
  • I believe thoroughly understanding consent is incredibly important and sorely lacking, both within alternative communities and in the world at large
  • I reject preconceptions about what kind of sexuality anyone ‘should’ have, based on their age, gender, sex, culture, mental faculty, survivor status, physical ability, sex work status, STI status, or anything else
  • I will not tolerate sex worker bashing, jokes about dead hookers, or a sex worker hierarchy of acceptability that benefits from classism, racism, or cissexism
  • I will not tolerate slut shaming, nor will I tolerate prude shaming
  • Equally, I critique the idealization of sluttiness, particularly female sluttiness, when we live in a society that both objectifies women and condemns women for being objectified (and the sex positive community is not any different)
  • I accept that sex is not always nice, and that sexual environments deal with the same white privilege, male privilege, entitlement, classism, ableism, ageism, fatphobia, whorephobia, and many other systems of privilege as the rest of the world does
  • I question the idea of “woman as Goddess” as potentially another form of female objectification in which women are objectified for the projection of male fantasy fulfillment (*not in all cases*, but it’s worth critiquing)
  • I very heavily critique the way self-termed “sex positive” communities have dealt with rape and abuse cases brought to them in the past- systems of silencing, shaming, and victim blaming that mimic the sex moralistic world outside.
  • I particularly critique this when put up against the sex-as-compulsory attitudes I’ve witnessed at many events, pressuring people (especially women) to “participate”
  • I believe that being sex critical means being intersectionally critical about capitalism, patriarchy, institutionalized racism, and the myriad other ways in which oppression exists and affects our relationship to sex (whether we have it or not)

I mean, in a lot of ways, I think I probably am actually sex positive, and would actually argue that many people who identify as sex positive but aren’t critiquing the oppressive systems they’re perpetuating within their communities are actually not. But that’s really exhausting, and that’s fighting a giant movement of happy hippies who get really ugly and mean when you tell them they can’t have their “pimps and hos” parties without hurting people or that it’s not inclusive to only ever show one standard of beauty- slender, white, cis, feminine, young- on all their event flyers. I’m pretty sure my critique could go on and on, but here’s a start to what i mean, at least, when I say “sex critical”.