As far as last year goes, 2017 could have been better. The year started with the inauguration of 45 and proclamations of “fake news” which turned out to be an ominous sign that truth and integrity would be in short supply for the coming year. Issues like racism, sexual harassment and transphobia seemed to simultaneously come to the public consciousness while being derided as non-issues by the alt-right. Some of these issues have been echoed in the sex-positive world, with heart-rending issues regarding consent coming to light and companies placing profits over ethics. Even for the most optimistic person, it was a challenge to feel good about a lot of things in 2017, in the face of so much negativity. The year left so many of us worn down, suspicious, feeling betrayed, gaslighted, and dreading a glance at what trended on Twitter. That’s not ok.
It’s inevitable to look ahead to 2018 and wonder what’s ahead. The good news is that the new year offers some great opportunities to anyone who cares about social justice and sex positivity. Here are five ways to stay woke and sex-positive in 2018.
It was once inconceivable that an alleged abuser could almost get elected to the U.S. Congress. In 2017, the nation breathed a collective sigh as that very thing almost happened, with the help of a full-throated presidential endorsement.
Midterm elections happen in 2018 and the stakes are high, for two reasons in particular. Changing the composition of Congress can help to blunt the legislative priorities of 45, and stymie an agenda that’s proven to be transphobic, misogynistic, ableist, reckless and completely unsupportive of content culture. We may have to endure two more years of 45’s presidency, but by turning out the vote we can make sure we minimize the damage. Also, keep this in mind. The de facto start of the 2020 presidential campaign season will essentially start after the midterm elections. If you want to celebrate 45’s departure in January of 2021, remember the fight starts in earnest in 2018.
There’s another reason the composition of Congress need to change and it applies to social justice on a personal level. If Roy Moore had made it to Congress, well he wouldn’t have been the only alleged (or admitted) abuser there. If social justice and consent culture is important to you, then make sure that legislators on the local and national level share your views and values. That’s the beginning of tangible legislative change and it starts with each one of us.
2. Get Involved
Last year we saw the advent of some huge social movements. Whether it was the #metoo and #resist hashtags on Twitter or movements like the Women’s March, people were spurred to action. For many people, 2017 was the year they found and used their voices. If you’re inspired to be a catalyst for change in 2018, get involved. Volunteer your talents to help a sex-positive or social justice organization. Become engaged with communities that matter to you (Ms.P does some amazing work in the leather community). Donate to organizations which align with your values, nonprofits need your support for the work they do.
Getting involved can be as simple as committing yourself to small things which have a huge impact. Call out racial microaggressions when you see them. Use gender-neutral language and don’t assume pronouns. Support spaces that value safety and consent culture. Recognize abusive and violating behavior.
Getting involved does come with a caveat, not everyone can get involved on the same level because everyone doesn’t have the same privilege or access. Not everyone can take off time from work to protest. Not everyone is in a community where they can express themselves without fear of threats or reprisals. Be mindful of those that don’t have the amplified voices that comes with privilege and respect their positions. But if you are afforded privilege, well use it. Recognize that crass jokes can be passive aggressive, toxic masculinity. Be an authentic ally to queer, trans, and non-binary communities. White folks, get your people. Yes, using your privilege can be demanding and sometimes the load is uneven. But when everyone finds balance, doing what they can, that’s truly the catalyst for change.
3. Learn Something New
Commit yourself to learning something new in 2018 by making a kinky resolution. If you’re kinky, acquire or improve your play skills. Explore sex toys for the first time. Take a class at a sex shop or make the plunge and attend your first convention. The cool thing about sex positivity is that there is always something new to learn or discover. Learning is like investing in yourself and your relationships and increasing your sex-positive knowledge base is a definable way to make this year better than the last one.
4. Make Self Care A Priority
Many of us were tested in 2017. Let’s be honest, confronting difficult topics requires hard emotional labor. With the neo-fascists protests in Virginia last year, the nation got a chance to see the tragic effects of racism. Hearing stories about assault can potentially be triggering. Watching 45 run the country like a badly scripted reality show is stressful. We spent far too much time shook in 2017.
In 2018, make self-care a priority. Ask for help when you need it. Practice mindfulness. Know and recognize your limitations. Stop viewing exhaustion as a sign of productivity. Learn to say no. Breathe. Decline a playdate if it doesn’t feel right. Skip the party if you’re tired. Unapologetically avoid toxic people and triggering spaces. The constant barrage of alternative facts and troubling news can wear down the best of us. That has a very real effect on our health and happiness.
Being woke demands that people also balance that with emotional and physical recovery. It’s healthy and necessary. Choose your battles and manage your time wisely. Don’t be afraid to step away when you need to. The challenges and pleasures of a sex-positive life will be there when you return. We keep a self Care worksheet on the blog for you to use.
5. Embrace Setbacks
Ever start a year being excited about your resolutions, only to have them stall by mid-February? Sex positive resolutions can be hard to stick with as well. Don’t get discouraged if you’re planning to be more conscious and sex-positive doesn’t seem to be progressing quickly enough. You aren’t going to overthrow the patriarchy, fight every social injustice and have mind blowing playdates at every attempt. You’re going to get discouraged when problematic things happen in communities and there’s no resolution. Playdates won’t always click and sometimes the sex is more “meh” then mind-blowing.
Embracing the setbacks will actually help you to stay woke and sex-positive in 2018. Every setback is a learning experience. It’s a guarantee that you won’t win every battle or right every wrong (it’s impossible to do so). Recognize that a setback isn’t a failure. Earnest efforts can be the catalyst for bigger changes. Speaking out about gross behavior may be uncomfortable, but it’ll ultimately help to create safer spaces. Practicing self-care can require humbly confronting your own issues, which is sometimes necessary. Experimenting with a new kink experience can be awkward. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, things won’t work out the way you’ve hoped or planned for.
It’s ok to feel all of that awkwardness, discomfort, and humility. The setbacks are what help us to ultimately move forward and realizing that is the key to truly staying woke and sex-positive in 2018.
Make this year a great one and always keep it kinky!
New Year – Fernando Butcher, Flicker.com
St Louis Women’s March – Steve Truesdell, Riverfronttimes.com
The Lady by the Window – Flicker.com