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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?

Tell Me You Love Me


10 Responses to “When Sex Positive Goes Negative”

  1. Kate Black Says:

    This is such an important issue. There are a lot of things that I find hokey or cheesey or gross, but as long as they’re not harming the people involved it’s not really my place to put them down. It can only serve to make people more inhibited or hurt, which rarely benefits anyone.

    I hope you’ll find yourself surrounded more and more by people who appreciate you & value your beliefs & boundaries.

  2. searah Says:

    Right on Jayme. This is a serious discussion that we need to be having. It reminds me too much of issues that I have seen come up among lesbians and feminists trying to control what fits into those categories which does nothing but fracture groups that could gain so much strength & power if they spent less time policing their own.

  3. Vera Says:

    Great post Jamye. I agree with you on the point that just because you’re not an exhibitionist and you take your clothes off because someone challenges you to doesn’t mean you’re not sex positive. And going to AVN HARDLY makes you any less sex positive… in fact, I thought it had the opposite effect???

    Those so called “sex positive people” seem to have really closed minds unfortunately. “Can’t we all just get along”?

    Jamye, keep being you and the masses will love you for it. I know I do.

  4. tony@comstockfilms.com Says:

    Hi Jamye! Glad you blogged about this. But no need to withhold my name. My position about AVN has been public for quite a while.

    If you’ll permit me, a point of clarification. I did not say that going to AVN/AEE makes you sex negative. I said I think doing business with AVN is not consistent with a sex-positive philosophy; something akin to selling jelly dildos or Anal Eze. It doesn’t mean I think you’re a bad person, or going to hell, or should have your sex-positive citizenship revoked.

    I also think there’s way to much glad-handing (and conversely, way too much back-stabbing) in sex-positive land, and not enough honest debate. It would be a sign of a healthy movement if there was more of it.



  5. jamye Says:

    i was asked to post this for Shanna Katz, http://www.shannakatz.com - my comments are apparently being all wacky. see below.

    Amen! I feel like I’m often bridging the two worlds of “sex positivity” and “mainstream” by supporting ethical porn and working for a company that happens to have 16 stores.

    To me, sex positive means accepting the spectrum of sexuality, not forcing acts on people, and not judging people for choosing to do porn, or shave their vulva hair, or use lube with glycerin in it. Sex positive is about creating a community of positivity and education, so that everyone has access to sexual info, and then not judging people from there.  I’m sorry you were made so uncomfortable, not once, but twice recently. That radio show host ought to be ashamed of herself for trying to put you in a non-consensual situation.


  6. jamye Says:

    Thanks Tony. i appreciate it and you.

  7. Kate Black Says:

    I love what Shanna Katz had to say.

    Yes, please.

  8. tony@comstockfilms.com Says:

    “does nothing but fracture groups that could gain so much strength & power if they spent less time policing their own.”

    This is it in a nutshell. I think association with AVN ensures the continued marginalization of sex-positive ideals, culture and commerce, while allowing AVN to co-op the same to promulgate a profoundly shame-drenched sex-culture and commerce.

  9. Jessie Matthews Says:

    In my mind, sex positivity also means RESPECTING BOUNDARIES! Those who think you HAVE to take your top off or be poly or do whatever they’re trying to force you to do to remain “sex positive” have actually turned into to explointation to get what they want - SO not sex positive in my book.

    I’ve also had the incredibly awesome experience of getting to know Nina Hartley, the adult film star turned sex educator, as well as other people who have participated in the adult film industry who were NOT forced to do anything they didn’t want to do, and I don’t presume to look down my nose at these people or the industry at large. Yes, some of the people in the industry have been / are being exploited, but I know from the wonderful people I have met that this is not always the case.

  10. Justine Sinclair Says:

    “To me, sex positive means accepting the spectrum of sexuality, not forcing acts on people, and not judging people for choosing to do.” Amen!

    Because I know for myself, throughout different stages of my life, that the pendulum has swung from one extreme to another. Thankfully, now at 48 years old, I think I have found my place of balance. And at the AVN/AEE on Saturday afternoon I won the MILF competition too

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