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Wednesday, January 19 2011

When Sex Positive Goes Negative

I don’t like to talk poorly about public people, not in public, and I feel blessed that I’m a sex educator who gets to work with, write about and talk to the top people in my field. But the negativity amongst us, and the expectation that we all “should” be poly, or naked or anti-AVN, it’s too much. Over the past few months I’ve been confronted with at least two examples of negative behavior from sex positive people.

The first instance happened in October with well educated woman and local celebrity, invited me to be a guest (actually she had very little idea that I was to be a guest, but her Producer knew) on her weekly, raunchy radio show. I wasn’t actually even a guest, I was part of her “party” type panel, and while I’d been a fan of this (long ago) Yale educated sex activist, and had always enjoyed her odd humor and big brains, it wasn’t working for me. Things took a bad turn.

It was such a weird night, I sat next to a woman calling herself Misogyny. She couldn’t have weighed more than 90 lbs. wet, and she was drunk off her ass, letting her “man”friend sit in on the show so she could be really drunk everywhere else (she eventually passed out on a bed later that night). She liked attention, and carried a golden pet snake around with her to get it. At one point, when I was on air and therefore getting her attention time, she placed the snake on me. I didn’t care. I wasn’t nervous. This upset her, I think she wanted me to freak. She screamed, “Give me my snake back,” as it slithered between my legs, and hooked itself up and around my left thigh. She was so drunk and so mean and I was so sad to see this Misogyny so sad. I think the snake liked me better.

As all this was happening, this particular radio host was trying to find a way to sexy me up, since talking about sex isn’t sexy enough. I found myself challenging her questions. Answering tersely. I didn’t like that she only heard herself, she wasn’t really listening at all to what anyone else had to say. Eventually, she was bored, so she asked me to take my top off, because, hey, I guess that’s part of being sex positive. I have body image issues, around MY OWN body, and I own them, and I work on them, and I have no desire to show my breasts to a room barely full of her fans. So I don’t and she asks me how I can be a sex educator and not be down with the top off, and I tell her I can because I am. And it reminds me of another time, years ago, when at a sex party at a bar in NYC, I was forced to take my top off and place pasties over my large areola or leave (the pasties didn’t quite cover them fully, but duct tape did). I felt objectified, rather unhappy and insecure, the rest of that party. What this radio host was asking brought me right back there, and this time, when it didn’t feel right to me, I said no. That made me a party pooper. In all fairness, I don’t think she likes me much either.

The second event happened just a few days ago. In a now seemingly defunct twitter discourse (if you can call twitter discourse) a filmmaker I truly admire labeled me sex negative (if I were to follow twitter logic and our timeline) because he doesn’t consider anyone that supports anything AVN sex positive.  I’ve known this filmmaker peripherally for years, and while I understand he can get a bit heated, his attack on my sex positivity via attendance at AVN was low. Lots of sex positive people have supported, or less than that, gone to AVN, and they’re still sex positive.

I’m not saying I don’t get heated too, oh, if you were at the Circle Bar at the Venetian on Saturday night after the awards show, at around 3:12AM you may have actually seen me get overheated, but still, when it comes to support of the sex industry, I’ll try to find that double rainbow above the sea of urine, or whatever thing AVN is promoting that I don’t necessarily enjoy watching performers get paid to do.

I don’t want to split the good people in this industry who use various parts of it for business, education, entertainment, to spread a message from the bad on all levels. The bad can only get better when they learn from the good and see that being good works. What I want is to know why a sex positive network of educators, entrepreneurs and filmmakers bring up such negative feelings sometimes when it comes to sex and the work we do, and how and where we do it? For those of us legitimately and passionately making a career out of this, don’t we already have enough of a challenge from the outside? Can we all find ways to listen and respect each other and stay positive on the inside?

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