Sex Positive Resources Wiki

People in a sex-negative environment are at risk in a variety of ways. This page describes some of the damaging effects of sex-negativity in some societies and cultures.


In September of 2009, Hope Witsell, a 13 year old teenage girl committed suicide. Many news reports blame her death on sexting,[1] but respected sexologists and gender theorists actually blame the sex-negative culture that encouraged her schoolmates to bully her.[2] This is the second suicide that news reports have blamed on sexting, the first being Jessica Logan, age 18, in June 2009 [3]

Sexual minorities such as LGBTQ youth are at an even greater risk. Although alternative sexuality itself is not a risk factor for suicide, the harassment that many sexuality minorities face contributes greatly to other risk factors, resulting in a dramatically increased risk. This is most dramatic among teenagers and young people. According to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. In addition, the San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute has found that LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.[4]


Sex negativity and sexism hurt young people through devaluing sex and experience. [5]. Sex negativity assumes that improper sexual expression, by any gender, is not valuable, and that one must conform to standards set by the greater culture. By not valuing the individual sexual experiences and expressions of individuals, sex negativity attempts to erase honest expression.

Hindered relationships[]

For many people, a fear of sex and sexual expression that they learn from the sex-negative attitudes of parents, authoritative adults, and mass media often translate to a mistrust of future partners and an inability to positively relate to them. A common sentiment was crystalized by one blog commenter who said, "I was raised Mormon, and am still so terrified of sex that it has seriously impacted any relationships I've had as an adult."[6]

Painful sex[]

Sex-negativity can be a direct influence causing physically painful sex. According to clinical sexologist Becky Knight, one cause of painful sex is a condition known as vaginismus:[7]

[Vaginismus is] the body’s unconscious response to a perceived threat (read: a penis). The vaginal muscles constrict to prevent penetration. Vaginismus results in unconsumated marriages, painful sex, and relationship problems.

In other words, when the stress of believing that sex is somehow immoral or bad for you becomes overwhelming, that very belief becomes the cause of painful sex:[8]

One of the issues that I help women with is painful sex, or vaginismus, which often results from growing up in a very conservative/fundamentalist family and community.

Hampered judicial process[]

Although the legal system used in many countries, including America, is supposed to rely on a jury of impartial peers who only consider the facts of a case and not their personal feelings, the reality is that no one is immune from their own biases. As a result, when sexuality-related cases are brought to court, many people are found guilty despite the presence of "reasonable doubt."[9]

In addition, many times the sexual activity of the victim is used within the court as a way of discrediting the victim's claim. The New York City Department of Education says that opinion about the accusers sexual history cannot be used, except when the sexual conduct was with the accused or the victim misstates facts regarding his/her own sexual history or lack thereof."[10]

Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections[]

In a sex-negative culture, sex education is undermined, and as a result the spread of sexually transmitted infections rises as protective measures like condom use and regular testing decrease. Western societies throughout history have viewed diseases spread by sex as punishments for acts of sin and have therefore consistently failed to curtail the spread of disease, and "substituted condemnation for care."[11]

See also[]