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Straight MaleBeing a straight male in the sex-positive community can be a little odd.  Many of the things that match me to the stereo-type of my gender and sexuality do not match the stereotype of the community that I'm in.  How's that for offending all men and sex positive people everywhere?  

The sex positive movement started as a reaction to misogynistic and negative mainstream attitudes and messages about sex.  Born of the free love movement of the 60's, and growing up during the twin terrors of AIDS and Andrea Dworkin, the sex positive movement found its most profound, powerful, and persuasive voices in the women.  The often-overlapping queer community was the other pillar holding the movement up and pushing it onwards.  

My favorite sex writers are Rachel Kramer-Bussell, Tristan Taormino, and Susie Bright.  My favorite guy sex writer is Dan Savage.  My life would be a different, sadder place without those four people.  My favorite straight guy sex writer is nobody, and that's ok.  

Straight guys are in charge of enough stuff, and I wouldn't say our track-record with sex is entirely positive.

Definitions of what "sex positive" is are about as plentiful as people who consider themselves part of the community.  At a base level, being sex positive is being positive about sex.  You think?  If you are unfamiliar with the phrase or the ideals though, think about what it means to be positive about sex.  A sex positive person doesn't just have a lot of sex, and doesn't have to have a lot of sex.  A sex positive person is one who doesn't stigmatize sex, who has safe sex and informed sex, who promotes consensual and healthy sexual experiences.

My challenge has been finding a place to fit in this community, to put my voice and energy and effort into helping build the community, but not yell and stamp my feet loud enough that other people don't get heard.  Many of those things were given freely.  I have never been made to feel outcast or ignored because I'm a straight man.  In sex-positive events where I've heard men voice that opinion, it generally seemed to come from the rare feeling of being in a place not specifically designed for men.

I am a straight guy, and I'm sex positive.  There are a lot of things about me that work together to make me sex positive.

I am a man who enjoys sex for selfish and unselfish reasons.  I don't lie to get sex, I don't lie about sex, I don't lie during sex.  I protect myself and my partners during sex as best as I can, and according to our comfort.  I don't use sex or accept sex as a tool for bartering, or as a prize to be won, or as property to be owned.

I'm not ashamed of the sex I've had, or that anyone else has had.  I do my best to understand sex that isn't the sex that I like.  I try new things and push my boundaries.  I learn as much as I can about sex, and not as an excuse to watch porn.  Not solely as an excuse to watch porn.

I am careful to recognize the sorts of privilege afforded to me for being straight and male.  I listen to people who identify different and their experiences.  I do my best to understand and to work against things that seem unfair.  I understand that to keep this movement healthy, no voice can be the dominant one.  

I work against negative stereotypes of men and straight people.  I work against negative stereotypes of women and queer people.  I define what it means for me to be straight and male.  I let other straight guys define what it means for them.

I do my best to stay informed.  I read blogs by smart people, listen to podcasts, read books and articles.  I think about sex almost as often as I think about having sex.  I talk about it a lot too, make myself a self person for people to talk about sex with.

The sex positive community has room for everyone who has sex, and respects all who do it smart.  Straight guys have a part to play in helping the movement help more people have better sex.  Being a straight guy means being part of the demographic that has largely controlled the messages we here about sex from media, schools, and government.  We are uniquely suited to help change that message from within by defying expectations of what it means to be a sexually active straight male.

It's an uphill climb, working against generations of misogyny, sexism, and predatory behavior.  We have a hole to climb out of before men are assumed to be sexually intelligent, sexually giving, and sexually positive, but we're never going to get there if we don't start.

Write the Author: John Stark

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Thanks, John. I've been saying this stuff for years, and nothing quite this elegant. Glad you put it so well.

Hey John,

I'm a straight guy too and I tend tot think of myself as sexual positive. I still got a long way to go in regards to reconciling my thoughts with my faith (and in some cases these two may clash) but the truth is I'm pro-gay rights, pro contraception, and pro sex before marriage. I know I'm swimming up stream with these views (and others) but I tend to think there needs to be a realistic approach to sexuality and the Christian faith then the one we see today. Thanks for the article by the way.

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