Don’t yuck my yum. If you have spent any time in the sex positive world, odds are you have heard some variation of this phrase. The exact wording may vary but the upshot is always the same: don’t dump on the things that bring other people pleasure.
In this day and age many of us are talking about sex more freely than ever, things like sex toys and lube that used to be whispered and giggled about are now the subject of countless classes, articles, and websites, and adult retailers have shifted away from mottos like “SUPER HOT XXX” towards ones like “Eliminating shame, dissolving taboo” (well done, LoveCubby!) folks seem primed for this idea. Other people’s turn ons your cup of tea, you may not even understand them but that’s not the point, the point is we all get our own turn ons and that’s awesome. Everyone’s doing great. Right? RIGHT?!
Well…not so fast.
Something is going on that I’m not sure many people are aware of because it can be subtle and insidious. It sneaks right past us and suddenly, in the sprinkled throughout our sex “positivity” are pockets of really unpleasant negative shit. I honestly think folks don’t realize how often we yuck all over each other’s yums.
What does that look like? What are these not-so-obvious ways folks who think they are nailing it disparage each other’s turn ons? Let’s look at some examples:
One might suspect that people who have embraced lifestyles that may be considered “alternative” would be anti any yum yucking but the thing is folks often don’t see how they unnecessarily denigrate the sex lives of others while celebrating their own because they are looking at the positive light they think they are shining. So when non-monogamous folks are having an excited conversation about their lifestyle and it dovetails neatly into a long-winded speech about how monogamy is “unnatural”, the yucking of yums may go unnoticed (unless you are the one whose sex life just got called unnatural). The game of “bash the thing we aren’t” is 100% unnecessary, though. It’s totally possible to celebrate everything that’s awesome about your sexuality without trashing someone else’s. Seriously. Try it. it’s awesome.
You’d think sex writers would have this DOWN… except we don’t. Sometimes (okay, way too often) I see articles that I like to believe happen because the writers are so excited to let folks know that it’s okay not to like things that they have gone WAY overboard and left some readers to feel like their sex lives are wrong. Articles with titles* like:
“Why _______ is a garbage sex position”
“Can we just admit that ________ is kind of terrible?”
“Does ANYONE actually like _______?”
“Why is ____ even a thing?”
Here’s the thing, opinions are great, getting out there and saying “I don’t like this and here’s why”? Sure, go for it! But the pattern of writers, especially sex writers, making proclamations about what does and does not get to count as “good” sexually is incredibly problematic. When you write on the internet you need remember that your work goes directly into people’s homes. You have to be aware that whatever you are writing about on any given day, there’s always a chance that someone, somewhere will Google that topic and your writing will be what comes up (and possibly the only thing they read). That being the case, when you announce that something you personally don’t enjoy is “garbage” or is universally disliked, or some other grand proclamation that you think makes you sound edgy, snarky, and like the authority on the issue you will make them feel shitty. Now, THAT is kind of terrible.
Sex educators, we know this, right? Well… sometimes folks may let the things that irk them override the impulse to educate. A couple of years back I was talking to someone who was so excited to demystify kink for the everyman, to show folks that there may already be some kink in their sex lives, that it’s not as simple as black (kinky) and white (vanilla). In their excitement this person ended up talking about their beloved dungeon, how it’s a great place- so open and welcoming… but fuck those 50 Shades readers that were invading! Wait, what? So kink is for everyone and folks should not be scared and feel totally welcome… unless they like a thing you don’t? Ouch. If we are being inclusive and welcoming, we have to, you know, be inclusive and welcoming.
So let’s pay attention to how we talk about sex, even we we’re sure we’re being positive- let’s make sure our “positive” message isn’t dumping on other people. Watch out for the nudges and giggles over people who aren’t into the thing you and your friends and partners think is the coolest, the eye rolls over folks who aren’t at your level, or alternately the “well it’s not like I do THAT!” reaction to the things that fall outside your own interests. This stuff can sneak up on us, it can feel little and unimportant but it does matter. Do what you do, love what you love, and for the love of dildo god, people, don’t yuck each others’ yums!
*I took those titles from real articles but edited them and didn’t link because I didn’t want to pass on the negativity.
This post contains a link sponsored by LoveCubby. The opinions in it are, as always, my own.