What Does It Mean To Be Sex Positive?

October 9, 2019 by Justin Lehmiller

What does it mean to be “sex positive?” This is one of those terms that different people define in different ways; however, at the core of most definitions is the idea that we must recognize that human sexuality—in its diverse and myriad forms of expression—is natural and healthy. Of course, there is an important caveat to this, which is that we’re only talking about consensual sexual expression here. Nonconsensual sex is another matter entirely.

Anyone who works in the areas of sex education, research, or therapy would do well to spend some time thinking about their own sex-positive philosophy because it’s vital that all of us approach our work in a non-judgmental fashion. We need to be able to serve a very diverse audience because people—students, clients, and the general public—differ dramatically in their sexual attitudes, values, and practices.

To that end, here’s the definition of sex positive that I included in the most recent edition of my textbook, The Psychology of Human Sexuality. This definition has become the guiding philosophy that I keep in mind in all of the writing and speaking I do about sex with the goal of being as inclusive and respectful as possible of sexual diversity. There are eight key parts of my definition, which I have summarized in the image below.

Definition of sex positive by Dr. Justin Lehmiller from The Psychology of Human Sexuality.

I share this definition not because I think everyone should adopt the same definition as me—as I said, different people define “sex positive” in different ways and that’s perfectly okay. I just want to encourage you to think about your own definition.

So what does being sex positive mean to you? I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Please weigh in below in the comments section.

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Image Credit: Dr. Justin Lehmiller

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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