The world of fandom is a strange place. At an anime convention you can find hundreds of women who fall into the fujoshi category (women who enjoy boy on boy love stories) and you can find the hentai room filled during the major hentai themed events (joke dubbing, AMV, etc) thus you might imagine that conventions, especially anime conventions, would have a very sex positive vibe. Sadly, they do not. For everyone’s bluster about how we should accept everyone for who they are we still fail to accept those who enjoy sex or have fetishes that might not be the norm. While this is an issue that spread far beyond the convention scene, it seems strange that the crowd that loves yaoi and slash-fiction would have an issue with bondage and foot play.
Sex positivity is not an outright acceptance of all things, nor does it require a person to enjoy all the strange aspects of human sexuality. Sex positivity is the act of not harshly judging or condemning people for their sexual behaviors. Of course sex positivity is a two way street. While those who prefer a more vanilla lifestyle (no fetishes) should try to be more understanding of those who have a kink lifestyle those who are part of the kink community should not look down or exclude people because they are vanilla.
Even if people have judged you for your kink it doesn’t mean you can shun all those who ask questions or don’t understand why you enjoy something. No matter how kinky someone is at one point they were a virgin just learning about human sexuality. The person who is asking questions might be on the same path and just needs a ‘senpai’ to guide them so they don’t make stupid mistakes along the way. For all the talk of sex positivity the various kink communities do I have found them to be some of the most standoffish and arrogant people I have ever met. With time this may change, but if you are outside of the kink circle don’t be surprised if the person you speak with is an utter hypocrite when it comes to being accepting of others.
Obviously this defensive posture is brought upon by years of being or feeling judged by others. Those who grew up in sex negative households often find themselves gravitating toward kink, but afraid to discuss it with anyone due to their childhood experiences. This is where the vanilla people need to grow and learn since they live less complicated sex lives. With more of a clean slate it should be easier to understand why some people might want to live differently. To put it simply not everyone wants vanilla, some people want chocolate and others want cookies n’ cream. While you may not put sprinkles on your ice cream it is easy to understand why someone might, thus try to understand why someone might enjoy something more rough than vanilla sex. Being open and willing to discuss issues is always a good start, but it is equally important to develop a thick skin because those who had to have secret kinks are usually not ready to be open even with those they consider friends.
Now, sex positivity is very important, but it should not stray into areas that are generally illegal. A person’s kink is generally fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or if it does it happen with consent between adults. We should not embrace those who want to take advantage of others, harm children, or hurt animals. Being accepting and willing to discuss kink with others is good, but there is no reason people on both ends of the kink spectrum should ever accept bestiality or pedophilia as normal.. Consent is still the key factor in sex and no matter how accepting we become that fact should never change.
The spread of the sex positive attitude will not be fast or easy. Plenty of people have valid reasons for being sex negative and some have less than valid reasoning. However, changing the minds of people can’t just happen with a parade or pamphlet, it happens with discussion and time. If you do not know where you stand try to imagine a friend coming out to you about a secret kink. Try to imagine how far you are willing to accept your friend’s kink and that should give you a good idea of where you stand. If you want to move more toward acceptance and positivity then just remember to check your judgement of people’s fetishes and remind others that mocking someone or hating someone for their sexual preference is not right. Little by little you will be surprised how quickly your views and the views of other change.
Ideally, there will come a time where those who wear bondage gear to a late night panel won’t be looked at as weird or gross. A time when having a 18+ kink gathering at a con would be fine. A time where people can proudly proclaim their fetish and not worry that everyone in their circle of friends will ostracize them from the group. However, that time is a long way away, but if you can make small steps toward building a more sex positive world that’s more than enough. Just remember that you can’t force anyone to act in a different way, just be polite and friendly and hopefully they will see that sex positivity (even if you don’t approve of kink) is a good thing and makes life better for everyone at an event or in the real world.
jared @ scarlet-rhapsody.com