Sex Positive Culture With Angel Sumka
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I find a sex positive approach humanistic. Does this seem like the case to you too?
Angel Sumka: That term fits, although I have never used it. I tend to focus on how sex positivity is not just about accepting our own sexuality and our own bodies, but also accepting the diversity of humans as it applies to sex and sexuality.
Jacobsen: For the youth, this is something important for the health of their lives. What kind of things should they know as the basics?
Sumka: That would highly depend on the age of the youth and where they are in their own development, but focusing on teaching youth the truth about how bodies work, with the real names for body parts, is a great way to start. There are some great resources created by professional sexologists that provide excellent guidelines as to what and when to teach youth.
Jacobsen: Many people come from a sexy negative culture. How can the youth understand that this isn’t necessarily an approach to life that is the best for their well-being? It may be in some cases, but definitely not all.
Sumka: Sounds like you just answered your own question-we need to teach youth that humans are diverse, that there is no one approach.
Jacobsen: What are the damages to the life of young people when they take a sex negative approach as most cultures do?
Sumka: I am not sure I would say that most cultures are sex negative. However, sex negative values impact youth in the same way they do adults. Negative culture surrounding our bodies teaches us to be ashamed of our bodies. Negative culture around sexuality teaches us to be ashamed of our sexuality, etc, etc. Cultures that are steeped in heavy gender stereotypes teach youth some very troubling things about how to interact with one another, and many of those messages have been indicated as the support for intimate partner violence. Abstinence only sex education has been thoroughly studied, and the findings indicate that by teaching shame based sex ed, that the risk of pregnancy and sti’s increase, not decrease. Studies on sexual repression show an increase in risk for addiction and other self harming behaviours.
Jacobsen: What resources can you recommend for the young for a sex positive life?
Sumka: Depends on where they live. Here in Edmonton there are great resources at www.sace.ab.ca and http://www.compasscentre.ca/home Read up on consent, risk reduction etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local pride centre, or to talk to a counselor if you are struggling.
Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings?
Sumka: Sex positive culture is not about encouraging promiscuity, but about removing the shame from sex, gender and sexuality. We believe that consensual sexual activity is healthy, and that every individual has the right to know about their body and to learn not just about diseases and risks but to learn about pleasure and how to talk about sex in a way that is consensual. Teaching youth that sex is only about disease and risk does not decrease their sexuality, just as giving them honest information does not increase it.