Sex Positive Rights and Public Sexual Health

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Is sex positivity committed to sexual rights as Benoit et al. (2022) address in their Target Article? Relatedly, does sex positivity need sexual rights? Those two questions are crucial both to the sexual health and sexual citizenship of vulnerable groups (including, but not limited to, PLWD—people living with disabilities) and to the sexual liberation of everyone (else).Footnote1

As it turns out, for once here the terminology is more confusing than the conceptual space it tries to capture, so that we can make progress in the field of sexual rights and ‘public sexual health’ by drawing two classic distinctions and then analyse how they are related:

Sex-positive accounts of sexual health and wellbeing as opposed to a sex-negative views; and

Positive sexual rights as opposed to negative sexual rights (Di Nucci, 2011, 2017, 2019; Firth, 2019).

We should be careful, here, not to jump to premature conclusions based on the terminological fact that ‘positive’ comes up both in (1) and (2). What we want to find out is the following: whether there is a conceptual (or empirical) link between sex positivity and positive sexual rights.

In order to achieve our aim, let us start by mapping the following views:

1. Sex-positive positive sexual rights

2. Sex-positive negative sexual rights (only)Footnote2

3. Sex-negative positive sexual rights

4. Sex-negative negative sexual rights (only)

5. Views that deny negative sexual rights will be ignored on principled ethical grounds (Strizzi & Di Nucci, 2022).

For the sake of completeness, we should also mention that there are both explanatory and non-explanatory versions of the different views above (1 to 4 anyway), but that for obvious methodological reasons (given our overall hypothesis), we are mostly interested in the explanatory versions of those four views, in which the link between sex positivity or sex negativity and sex rights is not just a coincidence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Pages (from-to)3267–3269
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 333454763