Anyway now that I’ve sort of aired out what it does and doesn’t mean, let’s look at a specific example SugarMag raised in the comment that prompted me to write this post:
[W]hat about the whole Christian husband spanking wife thing that has web sites that say “yeah ok it is kind of sexy but also biblical and good for the marriage, women really need to be spanked blah blah blah” and they say they are anti feminist (which seems pretty obvious).
This is one of those places where you can’t just pick up a “sex-positive” stick and start whacking way.
On the one hand there’s no question that receiving tapotement (as neutral a word for percussive stroking of the buttocks as I can find) turns on a lot of people, male and female. And for quite a few others, adding emotional, psychological, or historical/cultural/traditional elements adds to their and their partner’s appreciation. So even if tapotement (ok, spanking) isn’t your cup of tea there’s broad but not universal agreement that if it’s between adults who consent for mutual erotic gratification then it’s consistent with sex positivity.
On the other hand there are a couple of other sort of warning signs. Using tradition and, especially, gendered power/hierarchy traditions to cover up the “ok it is kind of sexy” suggests that it would be wrong to instead request to spank or to be spanked for plain old sexual arousal. That crosses the shame boundary and therefore isn’t consistent with sex-positivity.
Furthermore, making a universal judgment that all women “need to be spanked” for “biblical” purposes (yeah, like the Bible’s clear about that) is inconsistent.
Two other principles (no controlling another’s sexuality, gender-free perspective) with the idea that it’s a gender necessity for all male partners to control all female partners. That pretty much all such groups forbid women from spanking men is another inconsistency with the sex-positive tenet of gender-free perspectives.
And finally, there’s the huge point that claiming religious, moral, or traditional authority for the practice of husbands spanking their wives in order to “control” them collides massively with the sex-positive principle that everyone has the freedom to decline.
So while it’s not a clear-cut as “nope, it’s always wrong” or “it’s always right,” SugarMag provides a great example of how easy it can be to be “pro sex” without being “sex positive.”