What is Sex Positivity?

The foundation of sex positivity is simply the idea that all healthy and explicitly consensual sex is a positive element in life.

Sex positivity means maintaining a healthy attitude towards sex and valuing it, given your individual needs. Sex positivity also embraces the idea of being sexually educated and staying safe. Individuals who are sex positive actively decide how and what they want from their sex lives, rather than let others dictate it.

The sex positive movement began in response to the many ways that sex-negative behaviours and attitudes are active in our society. Many counsellors and sex therapists found themselves working with a generation of people who experience negative sex attitudes such as shame and guilt, or experiencing behaviours such as sexual abuse, sex addiction and avoidance.


Sex positivity approaches these issues somewhat like preventive medicine. If, as individuals and as a society, we embrace our sexuality as a positive element in life then we remove the conditions where negative attitudes can grow. In turn more positive attitudes and beliefs lead to more positive, affirming behaviour.


A sex positive person will reflect on themselves about what they want from sex. What kind of sex do they like? What attractions do they want to explore? In answering these questions, they will embrace what they discover, rather than worry or feel shame about it. This might require a bit of support to achieve for some people. And this is where counselling, therapy and workshops can help someone explore and discover in a way that feels safe and supportive.

Sex positivity also involves acknowledging that sometimes we don’t feel great about ourselves, about sex, or about our relationships. But rather than concluding that sex makes us feel bad, we might instead look for support and insight in order to change our outlook, or change our behaviour to get a better result. Because sex is an important part of a healthy life and its worth working to improve.


Another important element of sex positivity is developing communication skills and sex skills to ensure that you and your partners are getting what you want from your play time together. Have you really discussed what turns you on and what doesn’t? Are you being clear with each other about your boundaries and consent? What ideas do you have to avoid getting in a rut, keeping things fresh and exploring new things while being sure you are both on the same page?

If you have an underlying belief that sex is embarrassing or dirty or secretive, this will undoubtedly undermine open and clear communication. So if you were to look at your sex life right now, can you fairly say that you have a sex positive attitude?


If not, what can you do to change that?

In 2018 the AIDS Action Council will once again provide Play & Pleasure free of cost to Canberran men who have sex with men.

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