Expanding Sex-Positive Research

“What is missing and urgent is a practical discussion of the implementation of sex-positive ideals in daily health practices.”

Nimbi, 2020.

There has been a recent “blooming” of sexological study over the last decade. There are a greater number of articles on sex.

We are starting to get a deeper understanding of human sexuality, with few approaching sex from a holistic perspective. (such as Peggy Kleinplatz, 2013).

There are two areas that are important:

The multi-model approach

Every sexual encounter includes three things:

  • Your body (although some might argue that you don’t really need a body, and can just “think” your way through a sexual event. There are even . Medical doctors have traditionally been responsible for sexuality. And even today, when we have a sexual question most people will seek out a physical answer from their doctor.
  • Your mind. There is no denying that the mind plays a substantial part in our sexual life. If something is distracting us, our body shuts down and we can even go numb to sexual sensations. On the other hand, sexual fantasy can guide some of the most powerful sexual feels and even bring us to orgasm with just thinking.
  • Your social world. Your relationship with your lover can be critical to a sexual experience. But social elements are not just with your immediate partner. Your social world has played a part in what you expect in sex (the sexual script in your head), what you find sexy and what you suppress because of what you think is wrong or bad.

These three elements are playing a part in every sexual event, some stronger and some less strong at different times.

We need a system that offers holistic treatments tailored to an individual’s characteristics and needs. The problem is that most sexual research tends to fall into only one or two of these areas, and thus missing the richness of the holistic perspective. As a result our understanding of sexuality and therefore the answers clinicians give us are missing out on the complete sexual knowledge.


The term sex-positive is thrown around in different contexts. But what does it actually mean?

It is an ideology that promotes the importance being non-judgmental to sexual expression. In short it includes the following concepts: respect (of difference) and consent.

One recent article defined it as “an ideology that promotes the importance of being open-minded with respect to sexual and gender expression. Being non-judgmental, respectful of personal autonomy, giving centrality to consent, discussing different central expression & behaviors, and emphasizing the validity of a person’s sexuality and focusing on healthcare, and educational consequences.”

The problems with sex research today

Most research articles will fall into different fields, psychology, medicine or sociology, looking at the research through that lens. The system encourages it.

The other problem is that most sex research today is not sex-positive. One study that looked a the articles in the top four sexuality journals over the last 50 years found that only 7% of research included the elements of sex-positive approach.

One such area that is understudied is pleasure. Humans now have sex for pleasure and leisure. Most people are not having sex to have babies. Because the majority of partnered sex is had done for leisure. No while pleasure is intuitively an integral part of any consensual sexual experience (other than baby-making sex), it is notoriously understudied.

The dangers of not studying pleasure (in sexuality)

The danger of ignoring the understanding of the role of pleasure in sex, is that we miss out on…