From Socrates to Bertrand Russel, the aphorism “know thyself” has come up time and time again. Mainstream media preaches countless practices people should explore to encourage self-reflection and self-knowledge — meditation, exercise, vision boards, etc. — yet they tend to omit one essential human activity that requires experimentation and exploration: sex. We are too often taught that this topic is taboo, but in a 2019 Kinsey Institute study commissioned by Jasmin, they found that people who have a positive view toward their sexual orientation and sexual practices were more likely to report greater life happiness, higher self-esteem, and less loneliness, social anxiety and depression. This is why it’s crucial to discuss sex and the sex-positivity movement so we can continue to normalize the topic and open the doorway for people to comfortably and authentically learn about themselves.
Building off the ideas of Esther Perel’s seminal book, “Mating In Captivity”, sex helps people gain a clearer understanding of themselves and promotes self-awareness and self-love. It’s a tool that breaks through the constraint of thought and language. In the words of Ms. Perel: “We no longer plow the land together; today we talk. We have come to glorify verbal communication. I speak, therefore I am. We naively believe that the essence of who we are is most accurately conveyed through words”
Indeed, our restricted lexicon can only take us so far in identifying and defining who we are. Words alone can even result in false assumptions based on the narrative we tell ourselves and others. Our bodies and emotions can’t lie, which is why sex is a useful tool to learn about what we like, don’t like, situations we feel comfortable in, and ones in which we do not.
It’s important to address that sex-positivity extends beyond the act of sex itself and strives to include the normalization of eroticism, sensuality and fantasies, which help to reveal our innermost desires. Before the sex-positive movement, erotic fantasies were seen as “dirty” and symptoms of a sick and unsatisfied mind. Health experts disagree. Psychoanalyst Michael Bader explains that “our fantasies allow us to negate and undo the limits imposed by our conscience, our culture, and our self-image.”
Fantasies allow an escape and an opportunity to reverse roles imposed by our routines. Fantasies can help to explore a role in which the individual is totally in charge. If one’s personal life requires them to constantly take care of others, fantasies allow for the taking care of by another. The role-reversing potential is limitless. It’s one of the safest, yet wildest and most liberating ways that a person can be him or herself and explore new areas of their personality.
Sex also provides humans with an opportunity to strip away norms set forth by society and the media. There are countless sexual preferences, body types and genders for which people are attracted. Now more than ever, there are resources that allow individuals to explore these preferences in a safe space free of judgment. Leading voices and groundbreaking new online webcam platforms like Jasmin.com and Live Jasmin, are daily providing opportunities to discuss, learn, experiment and explore ways to enable the public to comfortably approach the topics of sex and relationships.
Our attitude toward sex inevitably trickles into our everyday lives and experiences. Sex and sex-positivity empower us to love ourselves and be more accepting of others as what happens behind closed doors materializes our feelings and emotions in a rich and tangible way. This is why it is so beneficial to dedicate the time to explore preferences, identify wants, and be vocal about both. Like many things in life, the process is ever-evolving and requires a positive and open dialogue, the opportunity for experimentation, and above all, learning and acceptance of who one truly is.
Author: Guillaume Tanferri Co-writers: Fernando Garcia and Gary Kovacs