Being 'Sex Positive' Doesn't Mean I Want To Sleep With Women

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woman in bed

“I think they throw you out of the sex-blogger union for admitting that.”

I was having a conversation with what may have been the most sex-positive human being I’ve ever encountered in the wild. Within an hour of the meeting, our discussion had touched on polyamory, circumcision, toys, and abstinence-only education.

We had just arrived at the topic of group sex when it came out that I am generally not attracted to or sexually interested in women, and it caused him to utter the sentence in quotes above.

It was the only thing I said in the course of the conversation that this gentleman found genuinely shocking.

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The thing is, men just do it for me.

It’s always been this way. I remember being in preschool and feeling something nice when I saw a certain boy. I recognize that women are beautiful, but I don’t get that same charge from women as I do from men.

All other things being equal, I really like a dick. Seriously, when the clothes come off, I want the bad romance novel stereotype “throbbing” penis there.

Okay, now I know there’s no rule saying I can’t have both. Neopolitan ice cream was invented for this very reason (ok, maybe not this very reason, but you know …).

So I weigh it, and still … just no.

Truth is, I have actually struggled with this one myself. As a sex-positive, progressive woman open to new experiences and seeking pleasure, I feel like I should be down with exploring all the avenues.

As I geek out about anatomy and am continually blown away by the beauty of the human form I feel like I’m supposed to be turned on by all the incarnations of that form. As I reject narrow definitions of what my romantic and sexual life is supposed to look like it seems so obvious to question the compulsory sexual identities our society throws on us.

When questioning that led me right back to my original identity, I was left wondering if I had done it right¹. I was left with this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Was all this learning and growing I was supposed to be doing coming up against some resistance? Was I failing? Can I really call myself sex-positive if I can’t do a belly flop into the middle of a sex party² and be equally happy regardless of who or what I land on?

A while back there was a spate of pieces that seemed to all come out at once that I filed under the heading: “Stop Picking on the Vanillas.”

These included the following articles:

I don’t think of myself as vanilla, per se, but when the statement, “No, I’m not attracted to women” got me roughly the same response I would have expected to receive with “I’m soldered into this chastity belt,” these pieces immediately sprang to mind. 

When functioning within a community that works to let people know that what they are doing is safe and healthy and normal, that all love/sex is equal, that all partners should be respected and have their needs met, and that when it comes to sexuality, gender, sexual expression, and pleasure there’s a whole rainbow of sensations and experiences available to them at all times — sometimes it can feel like in order to truly understand the depth and breadth of sexual experience you need to be tasting the rainbow at all times. 

That whether it’s same-sex partners, bondage, anal G-spotting, or clown sex. If you don’t want to do it you are somehow coming up short on some scale of sexual evolved-ness.

I start thinking like this and suddenly I get panicky and think that if I really wanted to learn and grow and be sexually enlightened I would go out and find a (consenting) female clown to tie up and practice some anal G-spotting on ASAP!

I’m actually quoted in Alyssa’s piece — "Are WE Sex Positive?" She took quotes about what people thought the term “sex positivity” means and I said it means: “Allowing the space for the sexual experience of individuals without judgment as long as everyone is happy, healthy, and consenting.”

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What I couldn’t put into words then, but have since figured out, is that this means sex positivity is not about activities or orientations, it’s about people.

To create the space I mentioned in that quote, we need to respect the rights, desires, proclivities, inclinations, tendencies, kinks, wants, and needs of each person without agenda. One of my favorite educators — Airial Clark of The Sex-Positive Parent — says that a big part of sex-positive parenting is assuming that children will become “autonomous, sexually active adults” and supporting their “individual sexual identity no matter what.”

Well now, I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like an excellent idea for us all to keep in mind when relating to each other. Recognize each others’ autonomy and support each others’ sexual identities no matter what. I know I need to work on applying that lesson to myself.

Listen, we’re all turned on by something different.

What does it for me may not do it for you. What does it for you may terrify me, but as long as everyone involved is happy and consenting you’ve got my support.

In the end, I think that maybe what sex positivity celebrates is sexual individuality — an understanding that when we are working to keep people informed so their sexual interactions can be happy, healthy, and based on consent, there’s no need to get worked up about differences.

Usually, when folks get worked up it’s about fear, so if everyone is informed there’s nothing to fear and we’re all free to just be those aforementioned “autonomous sexually active adults” seeking out the things that please us.

So, I may never be attracted to a woman, or tomorrow I may meet one who blows my mind.

Either way, what I know is this:

Everyone is entitled to their sexual autonomy. Everyone deserves support and respect for their sexual identity. Everyone’s happy place may be different, and that’s awesome!

For now, at least, my happy place has a frenulum — and that is also awesome.

¹12 years of Catholic school have left me with very definite ideas about accomplishing tasks “correctly.” Interesting that my Catholic schooling showed up in this experience in the form of concern that I wasn’t trying hard enough to engage sexually with women. I’m wondering if that’s a problem anyone else has ever had. Ever.

²Don’t try this, it just sounds like a really bad idea.

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JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, and researcher. Since 2012 she has been writing about sex, mental health, and vibrators. She's currently working on her first book, The Monster Under The Bed: Sex, Depression, And The Conversations We Aren't Having. Follow her on Twitter @JoEllenNotte. 

This article was originally published at Good Vibrations. Reprinted with permission from the author.