The Englishman reached for my hand for what was the third time that evening. He was one of those men who have little understanding of personal boundaries, so emotive that he feels the need to touch those around him to feel connected/seen/alive.
I’d had quite enough of this. I, a person who does not like to be touched by strangers in any capacity, had entertained his patting and caressing on the grounds of social politeness all evening. A third time was just too much.
“OK. Please stop touching me. Personal space.” I said, pulling my hand away from him, indicating with my palms the universal sign for “Stop.” Rude or not, he needed to respect my body and not touch it without permission.
“I thought you’re a sex educator. Aren’t you supposed to be all about people touching you?”
He said this with such ease, so matter-of-factly. As if I, a sex positive educator and writer, could not possibly have a sense of discomfort around his touchy behavior because of what I do. It was, to him, the simplest thing in the world: I am a woman, and he was into me. I am a sex positive person and must, therefore, be always down to f*ck. I must be open for business and ready to accept sexual advances.
This is not the first time I’ve found myself in a situation like this one.
It is a strange thing to find oneself at the tentative intersection of being female, sex positive, and in a long-term, monogamous relationship.
It is, I’m afraid, a state of being that many people (especially heterosexual cis-men, though not limited to men) have trouble understanding. They cannot negotiate these different modes of being. They are unable to see their fluidity and are only capable of viewing them as binary. How they fit together or exist within each other is puzzling.
Sex positive does not mean I’m always available for sex.
The amount of people (heterosexual men in this case, as these are the humans I choose to date), who have assumed I am open to their sexual advances the moment they discover what I do for a living is truly astounding.
Just the other night, I was telling a group of people at a party about my excursion to Tampa for FetishCon. This opened a floodgate for a Russian man at the table. He thought because I had disclosed this detail about my professional life, he was free to unload the excruciating details of his escapades on FetLife. Bro, no one asked.
When I say I’m a sex positive person and a feminist, this doesn’t mean I am always down to get naked with you. It doesn’t mean I want to hear about where you do or do not put your junk.
What it means is that I have total and complete control over whom I do and do not have sex with, unapologetically. It is hard living in this gray area.
I want to discuss my work within the sex positive community openly, but I don't want to be aggressively hit on by creeps. It is a dance I am constantly doing, unwillingly.
Being female does not give you the right to slut-shame me.
When you combine sex positive and female, this automatically makes you a whore in the eyes of many people. For the most part, I surround myself with wonderful kick-ass individuals who love and respect me.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect yourself from every bastard out there.
When I tell a story to someone or within a group about a wild experience I had at a Dom’s dungeon, or elaborate on why B-Vibe’s anal vibrators are phenomenal, people judge, even if only subconsciously. They assume I am “that” kind of woman.
Another byproduct that follows: Should I open up about aforementioned topics and then refuse a person’s sexual advances, my sex positivity is regularly used against me. “Oh. I thought you were sexually adventurous, what the fuck?”
Being a sexually empowered, sex positive female does not give you the right to pass judgment on me. It does not make me beholden to your opinions. And it certainly does not mean I have any obligation to have sex with you.
For many people, coming to terms with these facts is unattainable. One must flow to the next.
Monogamy does not disclude me from being sex positive and/or female.
You are sex positive. You are a female. You are in a monogamous relationship. Wait. What was the last one?
Try as I might, I cannot make people understand this one. How can I be in a long-term, monogamous relationship if I’m so sex positive?
Well, please refer to my statement above about sexual empowerment. I have zero problems with how anyone chooses to love, screw, or date. I happen to be a monogamous relationship with a person I love. It is my choice.
I’ll admit that this can make me self-conscious. Hence why I’m writing an essay in the first place. It’s something I ponder regularly. I sometimes wonder if I’m betraying myself or false-advertising by being a sex positive woman and not being into swingers clubs, sex parties, or open relationships.
Being sexually empowered and comfortable in that state is not static. It is a daily practice. Some days, I feel completely sure of myself. I am Beyoncé. Other days, I am riddled with self-doubt.
Being comfortable with the discomfort is part of being who I am as a human being while existing as a sex positive, monogamous woman. It is discomfort all sex positive people have to deal with, despite the kind of relationships they are in.
Every day is another day of self-discovery, and each ignorant interaction I have with people who don’t understand what I’m about is another opportunity to re-evaluate and rediscover my identity more fully.