Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Our world is filled with so much shame around human sexuality. Here are five ways to break free from it.
The number one topic I deal with on a daily basis as a certified sex and relationship therapist is sex negativity. No matter if I am talking to a client, reading an article online, or watching a television show, sex negativity is everywhere. In short, sex negativity can be defined as viewing sex as bad, dirty, wrong, shameful, and sinful. Erotophobia, or the fear of sex, is present everywhere we turn. So how do we go about fighting back against this never-ending onslaught of fear and shame?
Below is a list of five actions you can start doing now that will help reshape your mind to being more sex positive and start creating change.
Tip #1 - Internal Reflection/Exploration
It is hard for us to engage with our sexuality. We live in a culture that idealizes certain body types and erotic imagery for marketing and media but shuts down productive sexual health conversations and sources for care. It is NORMAL to not know where to begin when it comes to exploring your own sexuality. How would you? We are taught that our sexuality is linear when in reality, we are complex human beings who have many desires and attractions.
I have attached a document that will help you dig a little deeper into what it means to be a sexual human being. Allow these introspective questions to guide you as you begin your journey towards discovering your sexual self.
Tip #2 - Read, Read, and Read Some More.
Not everyone wants to read. Some people find it to be boring or dull and while I completely understand that, I think it is crucial when facilitating behavior change. Think about it, we have learned a lot of our sex-negative messaging from what we have read growing up, whether in spiritual material, sex education courses, or magazines in the local grocery store. Most humans tend to be visual learners so reading is one of the best ways to challenge preexisting thought. Below you will find a list of books and authors that I read when I started my journey towards becoming more sex positive. These authors are experts in their respective fields and provide thought-provoking topics that I think will challenge the previous, sex negative notions you may hold.
The Ethical Slut by Hardy & Easton
Rebel Love by Dr. Chris Donaghue
The Ultimate Guide to Seduction & Foreplay by Reilly & Stewart
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
Building Open Relationships by Dr. Liz Powell
Polysecure by Jessica Fern
The Guide to Getting It On By Paul Joannides
The Jealousy Workbook by Kathy Labriola
Boxes and How to Fill Them by Kristen Lilla
When Someone You Love is Kinky by Dossie Easton
"Today, our sexuality is an open-ended personal project; it is part of who we are, an identity, and no longer merely something we do." – Esther Perel
Tip #3 - Follow Sex-Positive Influencers
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, social media continues to run the world. If it isn't Instagram, it is Twitter. If we are sick of YouTube, we go to TikTok. Hell, Facebook is still hanging in there! What is important to remember about all of these platforms is that they have an algorithm. Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a users' feed based on relevancy instead of publishing time. So basically, whenever you like, comment, retweet, favorite, or subscribe, the social media gods put more of that person's content into your newsfeed. Now I am not saying to unfollow your Aunt Sally because she is posting sex-negative articles (well, maybe you should). What I am saying is to ADD more of the following accounts into your feed. Remember, one of the ways we create a sex positive environment is by SURROUNDING ourselves with it. So do yourself a favor and start following these accounts.
Tip #4 - Support and Advocacy
A big way of living a sex positive life is through advocacy. Giving back to organizations and communities that need funding or resources provides them an opportunity to continue to support those in need. For instance, Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a nonprofit organization that provides sexual health care in the United States and globally. The individuals that work there provide access to much needed care as well as sex education for those who may have no one else to turn to. Local LGBTQIA+ centers are also a great way to provide support as they educate and guide members of the community who may need help. Finding local nonprofits who promote sex positivity and education and getting involved can have a huge impact internally, and externally as well.
Tip #5 - Podcasts
Continuing with the theme of surrounding yourself with sex positivity, podcasts are a great way to do this. I used to not enjoy listening to informational podcasts. I would prefer the more scripted or documentary-focused ones, but once I found the therapy-related pods, I was hooked! If you are someone who does not enjoy auditory learning, then this may not be your route. I will say though, episodes for some of these shows tend to be 30 minutes or less. So next time you are picking up the kids or heading to the store, toss on one of these shows and see how it goes.
Loveline w/Dr. Chris
Do We Know Things
Sex and Psychology Podcast
The Laverne Cox Show
Sex Out Loud w/ Tristan Taormino
It's the Meg-John & Justin Podcast
Sex, Here & Now
The Trouble w/Sex
Sex with Strangers
Being sex positive is a lifestyle choice.
As humans, we have the ability to change our thinking. When it comes to fighting erotophobia and the negative messaging around human sexuality, small actions can have a significant impact. Make it a point this week to start incorporating at least one of the above changes. I promise you, it will be worth it.
Cleveland Sex Therapy is owned by Matt Lachman, a licensed professional clinical counselor and certified sex and relationship therapist who specializes in working with individuals, couples, and polyam folx on their concerns relating to sexuality, intimacy, and overall sexual health. The goal of Cleveland Sex Therapy is to promote inclusivity and nurture sex positivity. For more information, feel free to contact him at Matt@ClevelandSexTherapy.com