Hey there! Did you know there’s a new sexual revolution happening right now? If not, please allow me to tell you a bit about what you’re missing. Take my hand and join me for a glimpse behind the curtain.
Look in this room: it’s a conscious kink workshop. Here people get together in a light-filled studio and explore the basics of risk-aware consensual kink together. It’s done during the day, stone-cold sober, and everyone is warm, friendly, diverse and open-minded. The teachers care deeply about love, sex and pleasure and bring a high level of awareness to their facilitation and communication.
Now look over here: it’s a fancy-dress sex party full of awesome people. The theme tonight is ‘geek chic’ and everyone looks the part! Many of them spent hours making costumes and accessories that playfully riff on the theme, for no other reason than because it’s fun to do so. Look at how they enjoy each other’s outfits — before politely and respectfully unpeeling the layers and exploring each other’s naked bodies on the big bed later.
And who are those interesting folks reading together over there? Oh, that’s the Rewriting The Rules reading group, meeting regularly to discuss this ground-breaking book about love, sex, gender and relationships. They’re looking beyond the mono-hetero-normative and gender-binary paradigms we’re served up to discover who they truly are and what they really want. They’re looking for the place beyond their conditioning, beyond the permitted roles and masks provided by the mainstream.
There are many more rooms here: Tantra workshops, festivals celebrating creativity and pleasure, polyamorous communities, retreats, social events and much more. And the best news of all is that you’re invited to step in and explore this world yourself. Yes, you!
This not-so-secret world goes by a bunch of different names. It gets called conscious sex, sex-positive scene, Tantra, sacred sex, conscious kink, creative sexuality and others besides: as a fledging world of emerging possibilities, it still doesn’t have an overarching label we all agree on. What brings us together is a focus on self-awareness, a celebration of difference and a desire to transform the world through embracing and celebrating sex and love in all its shades and colours.
As one of our great pioneers Dossie Easton elegantly puts it, we act on the premise that “pleasure is nice and sex is good for you.” What could be finer and more radical than this?
At this point you may be wondering: but is it sleazy? Will I have to do things I don’t want to do, just because everyone else is doing it? Will I feel safe here? Will I be welcomed?
Let me assure you that your questions are real, valid and important: almost all of us worried about these things when we first peeked behind the curtain.
So let’s start by talking about consent. In the everyday world, standards of consent are shockingly low. I’m not even talking about the shocking number of sexual assaults and rapes that happen here every day. I’m talking about people intruding on each other’s personal space. I’m talking about people touching and hugging without permission. I’m talking about “go on, have another drink” when you’ve already said no for the third time. I’m talking about the culture of coercion we live in and most of us participate in to a greater or lesser degree.
In the sex-positive world, we try to do things differently. We make consent a conversation of urgent and critical importance. We ask that everyone pay more attention to consent than they’ve ever done before: not just at sex parties but in every interaction they have. We put consent where it belongs, at the heart of all human relationships.
As the starting-point, in our culture, we have poor consent and coercion. We’re still far from perfect - but in the sex-positive world I’ve noticed that we take care of each other in a way that feels precious and important. This goes beyond asking permission around sexual activity: it also talks to how much space we each take up, how we share our views with others and how much we allow everyone to be themselves. Our approach to consent is, in itself, revolutionary.
So how about sleaze? Surely, you ask, a world like this must attract some dodgy characters? Well - to be honest, not so much! Over the 10 years I’ve been organising conscious sex parties and workshops, I’ve been consistently surprised and delighted by the lovely, genuine and well-mannered people who find their way to the scene. And once they’ve found their way here, people are deeply protective over what they’ve discovered: they bring the right friends to join us and don’t mention it to anyone else!
The community also has ways of self-policing, as well as some skilful behind-the-scenes processes to ensure that people learn and maintain good etiquette and excellent consent-awareness. Again, we’re not perfect but we do it better than most other places I’ve been: I’ve seen more sleaze on a ‘normal’ Friday night out on the town than I have at a 200-person orgy.
‘Can I be myself in this other world, or will I have to do what everyone else is doing?’ you ask. Well, the truth is - if you’re drawn to this world but you’re not in it yet, you’re probably already compromising yourself a lot. You’re probably already spending time doing things that don’t fully express who you are. You probably don’t get as much sex with as many different people and in as many different styles as you want. In the mainstream world sex is a marketing tool, yet another way to make you feel not-good-enough about yourself. Behind the curtain the first question we ask you is: what do you really want? So why not find out what it’s like to dare to have more of what you desire?
More seriously though, many of us in this community believe we can actually make the world a better place through sexual liberation. In our communities we do things that are taboo and we do them with awareness, love, joy and consent. In doing so we erode centuries of shame built up around sex, pleasure and the body. We celebrate difference and we welcome diversity - whether that be gender, sexual orientation, preference, race, age, body type or whatever. By being part of a community where we’re already different and learning together what that means, we find ways to overcome our fears of difference and open up a space for greater tolerance and acceptance of others.
Best of all, by having more connection, more pleasure and more sex, we become happier, kinder and more generous people. That feeling of abundance is deeply infectious and has a positive impact on just about everything we do - from the way we relate to our friends and colleagues to the way we share space with our family of origin. All our relationships improve when we give ourselves permission to enjoy more of what we want.
Would you like to live a more liberated and sexually open life? If the answer is no then that’s fine - no one is forcing you to change a life that already satisfies you. But if you’re thinking that yes, you’d like more than you’re getting now, join us behind this curtain and be part of the new sexual revolution that’s happening right now. Come in with respect, be honest and real and you’ll be deeply welcomed. Join us!