Sex positivity, like social justice, like self-care, is becoming a catch phrase that is being used sometimes loosely and without a multifaceted understanding of the phrase’s function. Frequently, sex-positivity is often used to categorize or define free spirited, and fun sexual behavior. I myself have used this word to describe my message around masturbation and its benefits to Black Womxn or to provide context to my nude art.
While I think this understanding of sex-positivity should be a part of its definition, I do not think it should be the sole way that we interact with “sex-positivity”. I have been recently reminded or challenged rather to reconsider the meaning and function of sex positivity. My homegirl recently sent me a picture that Traci Ellis Ross posted on her Instagram that defined sex positivity beyond the meaning of someone who beautifully owns their sexuality. I was challenged to think about if one doesn’t “beautifully” own their sexuality does this make them sex-negative? Or more relational to me, does one whom owns their sexuality “beautifully”, somehow without the residue of sex-negativity or sexual shame? I can tell you for certain the answer is no!
Since doing this work, I have been confronted with people’s judgements, praise, and confusion of why I do what I do, and their projected definitions on to me. Given this, I have come to realize how uncomfortable I have become with the sometimes valid misconceptions that are fixed upon my body, my message, and my business. Because I am pro-Black nudity, pro-Black sex, pro-Black femininity, pro-Black masturbation and etc., folks validly assume that I am a sexual goddess freak bitch whom is able to make balls disappear in my throat. They assume that I am a pro at pleasing someone sexually, that I am a confident sistah who knows how to spin around on the D and keep it inside, as Trina said on her hit single “Look back at it”.
They look at me as if I am sexually perfect and without insecurity, shame and trauma. Some of this is my fault, as I have internalized some shit over the years and thus showcased these internalizations, but some of this is assumptions, and perceptions being placed on me. This is my critique of the word positive in general is that it negates the presence or possibility of negativity, and the energy that exist between positivity and negativity. I blame Eurocentric and/or westernized culture for it conditioning us to only honor binaries. We have a tendency to operate within defining things as one or the other, and if something is good then it is solely positive, and if something is bad then it is solely negative.
I want to push us though to think beyond the “either or” and understand that positivity and negativity like water is fluid, and the presence of one doesn’t mean the non-presence of the other. To be clearer, I am saying, negativity and positivity can exist simultaneously; perhaps there will be a conflict or struggle between the two, but they can absolutely be present in the same person, place or thing and at the same time. If this stands true then this must be applicable to the way we understand and interact with sex-positivity.
Let us consider in the first place why sex-positivity is even a thing. Sex-positivity is a movement to reclaim sexuality as something that is “normal”, “beautiful”, consensual, and to remove it out of the privilege rigged, taboo, and shameful paradigms that often it exist in. In addition to that, this movement is about or should be about providing and protecting womxn’s rightful option to be sexual or not. Black Womxn have added an intersectional approach to this movement and we have been taking steps to analyze, reclaim and redefine our sexual politics. Thus, sex-positivity, I would argue, is born out of a culture that has perverted, shamed, racialized and taboolized and violated folks through the vehicle of sex and sexuality. By virtue of this reality we cannot negate that those whom are sex-positive are fighting through shame, and trauma. I am still very much sexually insecure, and battle with body-positivity, insecurities of not fulfilling or meeting someone’s sexual expectations.
I have trauma, violent, and unhealthy sexual experiences that I have only addressed in my head or said out loud to a few people. Like many Black Womxn whom identify as sex-positive, I am fighting through barriers and ideologies that have been created to limit or control my sexual expressions. I am fighting through my secrets, and the shame that is birthed from them. Perhaps this is why I am sex positive because I found a space where I can exist without being totally spiritually assassinated by my shame and trauma. My hope is that when people engage with my work, my being, my body, and my business is that none of these become the standard or romanticized. I am just as much a sexual mess as I am a sexual goddess, I am unpacking, healing, learning and decolonizing and thus my sex-positivity is not without fear, shame or trauma.
Myisha M Soule
About the Author
My name is Myisha, my name means womxn and giver of life, and I am from Oakland California! I grew up in a house with my mother, my grandmother, my aunte, and a cousin that I am four days apart from. I have always been a person who has been deeply chaotic but immensely brilliant! I am trying to walk in my truth, and trying to find the space to uphold balance between my chaos and brilliance. I recently started my business, soulzandgspotz.com which focuses on empowering Black Womxn through masturbation. I have two degrees that hold little value in comparison to the experiences gained from obtaining them, but if you care to know what they are, I have a B.A in Communication with a minor in Ethnic Studies, and a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in leadership. All in all, I am trying to find myself, fulfill the ancestor’s purpose for me, conquer my demons, help my people, have a baby, and a fine man, and live life as whole, truthful, and unapologetic as possible.