Sex-positive: party motto or lifestyle?

Author: KatKristall
A to Z | Basics

What does “sex-positive” mean?

The term “sex-positive” describes an open attitude towards sexual identities, orientations and preferences. While the mainstream idea is two genders, heterosexual orientation and a monogamous lifestyle, a sex-positive attitude opens up spaces to talk about topics that deviate from this so-called heteronormativity. These topics also include BDSM inclinations and fetishes, as they are also classified as unusual or niche topics by the general public.

A swingers party, for example, is a sex-positive space, but a book club can also be. As already mentioned, it is about an attitude that supports almost all orientations, preferences and identities, but also explicitly leaves room for sex and its range. It is no coincidence that sex-positive spaces also include topics on individual lifestyle, body positivity and ethnic diversity. The term is therefore just as diverse as queer and the two often go hand in hand.

The sex-positive movement thus encompasses various ideals from the areas of health, sexuality, pornography, feminism, sex work, polyamory and, last but not least, BDSM. It is concerned with sexual freedom as part of the general and individual pursuit of freedom. This requires free access to information about sexuality and public acceptance of the topic. Consensual sexual activities between adults – and there is an infinite variety of sexual practices – do not need to be regulated or judged from the outside. Sex is not a force of nature but, like gender, identity and anatomy, is constructed.

Sex-positivity actually just means being open-minded towards all sexuality. Sexuality in terms of gender, but also all possible practices. Sex-positive, that’s actually just encouraging and being open to the matter – so it’s actually an all-around good thing!

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The history of “sex-positive”

The term “sex-positive” developed in the 1980s among a group of feminists who wanted to set themselves apart, as the majority of the feminist movement at the time wanted to ban pornography and sex work as anti-feminist. In addition to fighting against the patriarchal control of sexuality, this group was also concerned with changing the general public’s perspective on sex and eroticism. Because to this day, this is still dominated by the view of the white heterosexual cis man.

This attitude was taken up in Berlin, which at the time was the center of Europe for many alternative and queer movements. The Berlin collective Pornceptual was originally known for a queer magazine and an online gallery, but now hosts the biggest “sex-positive” party in the world. It creates a space free of gender and sexual identities that offers a place for all open and receptive people, regardless of whether they just want to dance or live their form of sexuality.

Where can you experience “sex-positive”?

Like the term “queer”, “sex-positive” has become a generic term for events and groups. The adjective is often found in party descriptions, erotic productions such as pornography, photography and books, but is also used for therapists, doctors and in completely different areas.

In many large cities, there are sex-positive clubs and party series. In Berlin, for example, there is the Berghain and the KitKat Club, where you can dance, party and watch performances, but which also deliberately create space for sex, fetish and eroticism.

The audience here often sheds their everyday identity and sexuality and enjoys the unique atmosphere of sexual and intellectual freedom. Whether you come here with the intention of going to the dance floor or the darkroom, these places create a symbiosis for all needs.

Sex-positive, queer and BDSM go hand in hand in many respects. Because they all stand for an inclusive community outside of binary and heteronormative ideas. Although they include sexual preferences, they go beyond these and are also attitudes, beliefs and communities.

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What you need to bear in mind about the term

Sex-positive does not mean that coitus or sexual acts are automatically permitted in this place or with these people. A sex-positive party, for example, is not a swingers party or a mare market where sexual acts are “automatically” part of the event. Sex-positive therefore says something about the attitude or direction of the party, but not about the program plan. And it certainly doesn’t mean that people with a sex-positive attitude are automatically open to everything and can be regarded as “fair game”.

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