The sexpositive ‘movement’ has not been one cohesive movement. It’s been an idea, a principle. And many people have contributed to it over the last couple of centuries.
Sexpositivity is the premise that sex is a natural, healthy and joyous part of human experience. That it is in our nature to be sexual, to seek pleasure through sex. That connecting through sex, engaging in sex and deriving pleasure from sex is neither shameful nor dangerous, but an important part of human experience.
Between 1919 and 1933, Dr. Magnus Hirschfield made significant contributions to the study of sexuality with the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. The institute carried out vital research into transgender experience. The institute also housed the first gay liberation organization (although it would not call itself that) – the World League for Sexual Reform.
Sadly, Fascism has never been a friend of sexual liberation. In 1933, Nazis ransacked the Institute and burned most of its books and writings.
Dr. Hirschfield’s work lived on through the work of his colleagues – people like Walter Großmann and Arthur Weil, and most notably Harry Benjamin (who developed the now-famous WPATH standards for transgender care).
In the United States, Dr. Alfred Kinsey founded in 1947 the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. The institution is now called Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
In the late 1950s, researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson pioneered research info the understanding of human sexual response, dysfunction and disorders through direct observation of anatomical and physiological sexual responses on human subject – a very bold approach.
In the 1980s it was Dr. Ruth Westheimer who became the voice for positive sexuality.
Many other people carried the torch of sexual freedom. I’ll probably keep adding names to this piece as time allows.
Possibly one of my greatest heroes of female sexuality was Betty Dodson, who made it her mission in life to teach as many women as she could that shame-free masturbation is the foundation of female sexuality.
What I’m trying to accomplish with this website, this app and this community is to in some small way forward the work of these giants.
Every time a woman thanks me for helping her find her sexual freedom I beam with pride.
Cassie Brighter, February 2020