The thoughts and opinions expressed in this piece are those specifically of the author and do not reflect the views of Wetlands Magazine as a whole.
CONTENT WARNINGS: mention of sexual assault, drugs, addiction
This piece has been slightly edited since its initial publication.
by S. E. Xnegativity
I could say I’m addicted to sex– I have it all the time, I always want to; because of my sex-life I have damaged relationships with not only partners but also housemates, close friends, and family members. This is often confusing for a number of reasons, but one thing about my compulsory behavior that really fucks with me is understanding my obsession with sex through the philosophy of sex negativity, as well as through the perspective of a thin, white, queer individual, an assault victim, and someone who experiences anxiety and depression. I have messed up situations for myself due to my intense relationship with sex, but my independence and control over my body at this point is more important to me– which I feel that I can find through indulgence of chemically good feelings, oxytocin, procrastination, conversations before and after. I know this is a controversial, “unhealthy” perspective.
Through years of effectively non-stop sex and my compulsory attitude, I’ve come to reconcile the trauma of losing relationships through understanding where others’ judgements have come into play, too. I believe in body and sex negativity because “positivity” isn’t truly accessible– how can there be a universal concept of beauty as an inherent “good”? What type of acceptance of the self, or of one’s appearance, matters? Can any positive mindset really make sex or beauty more accessible anyway? Of course I only represent myself, who happens to be a victim and an “addict” of sex and other drugs. There’s a ton of self-help literature about loving yourself and coping with these identity restrictions in general, which are super helpful to a lot of people. Recently in The Trail, I read an article that was about sex and body positivity, which I feel exemplifies this type of self-help and the force behind the movement called “sex positivity.” I’m not writing against The Trail’s piece– my main interest in continuing this discussion is articulating my thoughts, because they are different, and might help other people who also think differently, or from the perspective of a victim, or more in line with sex/body negativity for whatever reason.
Most literature that I’ve found which discusses the sex-negative/sex-critical movement, like this article on xojane.com (http://www.xojane.com/issues/im-a-sex-negative-feminist) posits the concept as “[urging] feminists to reject compulsory sexuality, which has historically translated to forced sexual compliance with men but has recently been extended to non-hetero sex and sexuality as well.” Even though this quote sums up great points, I wonder: why does the philosophy have to, necessarily, relate to sexual practice as well as experience? The comments on the xojane piece emphasize why the narrative of sex-negativity can be problematic. When reading these articles I just ignore their moralistic connotations because they aren’t applicable to me, and I know that I am not really represented by the majority of the sex-negative movement, either.
Based on my experiences as a victim, I get pretty upset by the sexiness that is all around me and the associations between femininity and looking “hot,” even among the badass women and genderqueer folk in my social circle who I love. I am not saying that this shouldn’t make people feel good, either– but it’s this type of body “positivity,” or being able to feel like you are beautiful/sexy/cool, and the materials and products associated with them, that make me feel like being completely unsexy and under the radar from the whole sex-culture game. To me, sex has very little to do with sexiness, and that is the main point of my view as a sex-negative person. From my shitty, unwanted, non-consensual experiences and existence on this planet for the past 20 years I no longer want to be a contender, but I do want to have sex, and have complete control– I can’t find this self-control within body/sex positivity (which doesn’t mean other people can’t, or shouldn’t).
The article also brings up the thought “we can’t fuck our way to freedom” as central to the sex-critical/sex-negative movement. Although I’m not sure if I exactly identify with this notion as my focal point– because the message here is worded problematically– it does bring up major problems with white girl feminism that fiercely apply to my identification with the sex-negative movement. Given the hyper-sexualization of women of color in the media, and our white supremacist culture which is ridden in misappropriation, most popular (white) feminist icons represent a gross, privileged whitewashing of the movement towards freedom of sexual and gender expression/existence.
There are a lot of points to hit on in this discussion… what’s tricky for me, in my experience, is that most friends that I’ve lost due to my sexual behavior would agree with the theoretical discourse of pessimisms towards the dominant narrative of “sexuality” in our culture. But most of them do not have experience with sexual assault or sex “addiction,” and have expressed acceptance towards “chill” dudes in a way that I will never get from them. On the one hand, I’ve been flaky, unavailable, distant, and have lied– on the other, I have had my own agenda, I have lost control of myself and am trying to take it back, and I have sex at a serial rate wherein I’m unable to report every sexual act to every, or any person that I’m close with, nor do I mean anything by it typically. The way in which we regulate each others’ bodies and sex habits, as well as our own, needs to be reconsidered– especially when it is in the name of “positivity” towards sex. Sex is a way to destroy relationships. Sexiness is taught, and boring, and tired.