Written by: Dennaé Dumas, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Talking about sex can be uncomfortable. When I tell people I am a sex therapist, you can only imagine the responses I get. And most of them are far beyond the realities of what I encounter working in this field. No, clothes stay on. No, there isn’t any physical contact. Yes, you can talk about depression. Yes… you are normal (whatever that means) or at least not the only one. In a world in which sex in and of itself is a hot topic, what does it mean to be sex-positive? And why should it matter to everyone?
According to the International Society of Sexual Medicine, “sex-positive” can have varying definitions but primarily consists of having positive thoughts and feelings regarding sex. This includes how one sees their own sexual behaviors, attitudes, and sexual identity. People who are sex-positive are more inclined to be more comfortable talking about sex, open to learning more about sex and sexual activities, discuss consent and boundaries around sex, and engage in different facets of intimacy building in a relationship. Intimacy, the feeling of closeness and connection, incorporates physical, emotional, and psychological forms of relating to another person. A sex-positive person also considers safety a critical attribute that would underscore safe sex practices for them and their partners.
Safe sex practices include using protection to prevent disease, communicating about shared expectations, and discussing past experiences. Overall, a sex-positive person views sex as a holistic part of themselves that will continue throughout one’s life span. They carry no shame or awkwardness in being able to discuss sex and how it impacts their life. They implement their boundaries and accept other people’s boundaries. They understand that consent and safety are fundamental aspects of sex and do not judge the behaviors of others if those key elements are present. Ultimately, being sex-positive is about understanding who you are, what is suitable for you, and how that shows up in your relationships.
You don’t have to have sex to be sex-positive. Sex-positivity is about embracing how people can engage with their sexual expression and applying a nonjudgmental outlook towards sex to everyday life. As a sex therapist, and intimacy & relationship coach, I am a part of a growing number of mental health professionals hoping to change the discourse and attitudes around sex. The World Health Organization states that sexual health is a critical component of comprehensive healthcare for everyone. It has both social and economic impacts on a community. When society views sex from an affirming perspective, it reinforces respect, safety in sexual experiences, good-quality sex education, and access to sexual health care. It supports pleasure-seeking experiences free from coercion, discrimination, and violence.
On an individual level, sex can boost mood, improve sleep, decrease anxiety, and reduce stress. It can ward off depression and increase intimacy and bonding within relationships. Sexual health is a broad subject, and being sex-positive is just the beginning. Hopefully, as the conversations around sex continue to broaden, more and more people will begin to see the importance of being sex-positive. Sex-positivity is the dedication to being inclusive, working from an anti-oppressive lens, centering boundaries, safety, and consent, which are discussed with your partner, and consistently interrogating the negative messages one has picked up about sex.
Dennaé Dumas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dennaé has a background as a performing artist and a trained ballet dancer. She understands the necessity of the mind-body connection for a thriving sex life. Dennaé’s practice has an emphasis on compassionate care, developing rapport that aligns with client needs and promoting cultural competency, inclusivity, and sex positivity. Dennaé is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in sex therapy, with degrees from UNC, Université de Lyon 3, and Columbia University, where she received her MBA & MSW.