Sexual activity is still shrouded in mystery. To many, sex work and sex, in general, are taboo topics. But we don’t believe it should be this way.
At Vivastreet, we’re all about sex positivity and aim to be open and inclusive, focusing on shedding light on sex-positive creators. Today, we’re looking at TV shows, books, movies, podcasts, and more, that promote just that. If it offers positive portrayals of escorts and sex lives, we’re into it.
- What is sex positivity?
- Why do we need more sex-positive media?
- The best sex-positive media from books to podcasts
- How sex-positive media reduces the stigma & boosts positive attitudes surrounding sex and sex work
- The takeaway
If you’ve been looking for new media or want to start watching sex-positive shows, keep reading. We’ve created a guide to help you learn more and change your attitude.
Ready? So are we!
What is sex positivity?
Sex positivity is a movement that promotes open conversations about sex. Instead of forcing shame and guilt onto the subject, it’s about remembering that sex is a healthy part of life.
Sex positivity is also about changing old cultural narratives by giving listeners new language and ways to talk about sex. Many often never had the chance to discuss sex without being deemed “dirty”. Sex is natural, and the sex-positive movement is here to help empower and educate us through media and other informative content.
This movement is also inclusive, and the topics go beyond heteronormativity. It includes all genders, abilities, races, and sexualities in these conversations and media portrayals. Sex workers are also core to the movement – sex positivity celebrates escorts and challenges stigmas surrounding their profession.
Why do we need more sex-positive media?
Let’s face it. We lack sex-positive media.
When did you last see a sex worker living their best life on TV? Of course, other than the Secret Diary of a Call Girl. And have you listened to any podcasts that discuss sex without shame? Probably not if you aren’t already engaging in this movement.
A lack of sex-positive media means that we only see sex through negative stereotypes. Constant exposure to sex-negative content leaves society with misbeliefs, stigma, and discriminatory mindsets. This affects sex workers and puts them in positions of vulnerability.
Sex-positive media counters these outdated ideas and helps viewers build healthier attitudes towards sex.
What makes sex-positive media?
Sex-positive media looks different depending on which form you’re consuming. However, there are some general themes that all include.
The following features can be found in sex-positive media:
- Sex education – Sex-positive content helps viewers learn about sexual health, consent, and equality
- Inclusivity – True sex-positive media includes all genders, sexualities, races, and abilities. Representation is vital in building inclusive media
- Boundaries and consent – Consent and boundaries are significant themes of sex-positive content
- Empowering messages – At its core, sex-positive media is there to empower viewers. It gives viewers agency and confidence to take control of their sexual well-being
Sex-positive media focuses on creating healthy sexual attitudes and a fairer sexual landscape. There’s no discrimination or judgement here!
The best sex-positive media from books to podcasts
Curious? Dive into some sex-positive media today. Here are some of the top picks you can access in the UK.
The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
The Ethical Slut is a well-known and highly regarded guidebook to ethical non-monogamy written by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy. The book covers a range of topics related to polyamory and open relationships, including communication, jealousy, and navigating multiple partners. The authors draw from their own experiences and offer practical advice and exercises for readers looking to explore these relationship styles.
Queer Sex by Juno Roche
Queer Sex by Juno Roche is a candid and insightful exploration of the experiences of queer people and their relationship with sex. Roche shares personal stories and interviews with a diverse range of people, including trans, non-binary, and disabled individuals, to challenge societal norms around sex and offer a fresh perspective on desire, pleasure, and intimacy. The book is a powerful celebration of queer sexuality and a call to action for more inclusive and affirming approaches to sex education and healthcare.
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski is a groundbreaking exploration of female sexuality and the science behind desire, arousal, and orgasm. Nagoski presents cutting-edge research and challenges common myths about women’s sexuality, offering practical advice and exercises for readers to improve their sexual well-being. With humour and empathy, the book emphasises the importance of understanding and embracing one’s unique sexual response and encourages readers to cultivate a positive and empowered relationship with their bodies and sexuality.
Love Worth Making by Stephen Snyder
Love Worth Making by Stephen Snyder is a guide to the art of erotic intimacy and communication. Drawing from years of experience as a sex therapist, Snyder offers practical advice and exercises to help couples deepen their connection and overcome common sexual challenges. Through real-life stories and clinical examples, the book explores the role of desire, fantasy, and vulnerability in healthy sexual relationships. With a compassionate and non-judgmental approach, Love Worth Making provides a roadmap for couples looking to improve their sexual and emotional connection.
The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor is a powerful call to action for radical self-love and body positivity. Taylor challenges societal norms that perpetuate body shame and offers a vision for a more equitable and compassionate world. With personal anecdotes and practical exercises, the book guides readers to dismantle the systems of oppression that fuel negative body image and embrace their bodies with love and acceptance. The Body Is Not an Apology is a transformative and essential read for anyone seeking to reclaim their relationship with their body and create a more just and inclusive society.
Pride is a 2014 British comedy-drama film directed by Matthew Warchus. The film is based on a true story of a group of LGBTQ+ activists who in 1984 decide to raise money for striking miners in a small Welsh town. The film explores the unlikely alliance between the miners and the LGBTQ+ community and the challenges they face in a society that is often hostile towards them. Pride is a heartwarming and inspiring film that celebrates the power of solidarity and the importance of fighting for justice and equality.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a 2021 British romantic comedy film directed by Christopher N. Rowley. The film follows Nancy Stokes, a wealthy, recently divorced woman who hires a young male sex worker, Leo Grande, to help her explore her sexuality and regain her confidence. Through their interactions, Nancy and Leo develop an unexpected and complex relationship, challenging their assumptions and biases about each other. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a charming and playful exploration of intimacy, desire, and personal growth, featuring standout performances by Emma Thompson and newcomer Daryl McCormack.
Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Barry Jenkins. The film follows the life of a young African American man Chiron through three stages of his life, as he navigates poverty, violence, and his own sexual identity. Through a series of powerful and poignant vignettes, Moonlight explores themes of masculinity, race, and sexuality with nuance and sensitivity. The film received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, making it the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBTQ-related film to win the prestigious award.
The Handmaiden is a 2016 South Korean erotic psychological thriller film directed by Park Chan-wook. Set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Korea, the film tells the story of a young Korean pickpocket who is hired by a con man to become the handmaiden of a wealthy Japanese heiress. As the handmaiden and the heiress spend more time together, they develop an intense and complex relationship, which leads to a series of twists and turns that challenge their loyalties and desires. The Handmaiden is a visually stunning and erotically charged film that explores themes of power, desire, and betrayal with depth and sophistication.
The Duke of Burgundy
The Duke of Burgundy is a 2014 British drama film directed by Peter Strickland. The film follows the intimate relationship between two entomologists, Cynthia and Evelyn, as they navigate their complex and evolving power dynamics. Through a series of sensual and dreamlike vignettes, the film explores themes of desire, submission, and control, challenging traditional notions of romance and sexuality. The Duke of Burgundy is a thought-provoking film that offers a unique and nuanced perspective on the intricacies of human relationships.
Masters of Sex
Masters of Sex is an American period drama television series based on the real-life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneering sex researchers who revolutionised the field of human sexuality in the 1950s and 60s. The series follows their tumultuous relationship, as they navigate their own personal and professional struggles while challenging societal norms and advancing the understanding of human sexuality. With exceptional performances by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex is a compelling and insightful exploration of desire, intimacy, and the human condition.
Sex Education is a British comedy-drama Netflix series that follows the story of Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who teams up with his rebellious classmate Maeve to start an underground sex therapy clinic at their school. With a diverse cast of characters and frank discussions of sex and relationships, Sex Education tackles a wide range of topics, including consent, LGBTQ+ issues, and mental health. The show has been praised for its humour, authenticity, and inclusivity, making it a popular and critically acclaimed series.
Big Mouth is an American adult animated sitcom created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett, for Netflix. The show follows a group of preteens as they navigate the ups and downs of puberty, exploring issues such as sexuality, relationships, and mental health. The show features an all-star voice cast, including Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, and Maya Rudolph, and uses surreal visuals and absurdist humour to tackle complex and often taboo subjects. Big Mouth has been praised for its frank and honest portrayal of adolescent development, and for its ability to make audiences laugh while also promoting empathy and understanding.
Sex, Explained is a Netflix documentary series that explores the science and culture behind various aspects of human sexuality. Hosted by Janelle Monáe, each episode focuses on a different topic, such as fertility, contraception, and sexual fantasy, and features interviews with experts in the field, as well as personal stories from individuals around the world. With a mix of scientific research and cultural commentary, Sex, Explained aims to educate and entertain audiences while promoting a greater understanding of human sexuality and its many nuances.
Easy is an American anthology series that premiered on Netflix in 2016. Created by Joe Swanberg, the show explores modern relationships and sexuality through a series of loosely interconnected stories set in Chicago. With a talented ensemble cast, including Orlando Bloom, Dave Franco, and Emily Ratajkowski, Easy delves into a variety of topics, such as polyamory, open relationships, and dating in the digital age. With its naturalistic style and intimate exploration of contemporary issues, Easy offers a refreshing and nuanced take on the complexities of human relationships.
Sex with Emily
Sex with Emily is a popular podcast hosted by Emily Morse, a sex therapist, author, and television personality. The show covers a wide range of topics related to sex and relationships, including communication, intimacy, pleasure, and sexual health. Each episode features candid discussions with experts in the field, as well as personal stories from listeners who call in with their own questions and experiences. With its informative and entertaining approach, Sex with Emily aims to promote a healthier, more sex-positive culture while providing listeners with practical advice and resources for improving their own sexual well-being.
Sex and Psychology
Sex and Psychology is a podcast hosted by sex educator and researcher Dr Justin Lehmiller. Each episode of the podcast explores a different topic related to sex and relationships, drawing on the latest scientific research and expert insights. Topics covered on the show include sexual fantasies, gender identity, sexual health, and more. With its evidence-based approach and engaging style, Sex and Psychology aims to provide listeners with accurate information and practical advice for improving their sex lives and relationships. The podcast is designed for a general audience and is appropriate for anyone interested in learning more about human sexuality.
Normalizing Non-Monogamy is a podcast hosted by a non-monogamous US-based couple Emma and Fin. The show explores various aspects of non-monogamous relationships, including open relationships, polyamory, swinging, and more. Each episode features interviews with individuals and couples who practice non-monogamy, as well as experts in the field. With a focus on education and advocacy, Normalizing Non-Monogamy aims to promote understanding and acceptance of non-traditional relationship structures while providing listeners with practical advice and resources for exploring non-monogamy in their own lives. The podcast is geared toward anyone interested in alternative relationship models, regardless of their current relationship status.
The Heart is a podcast that explores intimate and personal stories about love, relationships, and sexuality. Hosted by Kaitlin Prest, the show takes a deeply emotional and introspective approach to storytelling, often incorporating elements of sound design, music, and poetry. With a focus on diverse voices and perspectives, The Heart features stories from people of all genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. It also covers a wide range of topics, from sexual trauma to polyamory to the complexities of modern dating. Through its compelling and thought-provoking stories, The Heart aims to foster greater empathy and understanding around issues related to love and sexuality.
Where Should We Begin
Where Should We Begin is a podcast hosted by renowned couples therapist Esther Perel. Each episode of the podcast features a real-life couple undergoing therapy with Perel, as she helps them work through their relationship issues and communication problems. From infidelity to sexual dysfunction to cultural differences, Where Should We Begin tackles a wide range of complex and often taboo topics related to love and relationships. With a focus on empathy, honesty, and vulnerability, the show offers listeners a rare and intimate glimpse into the inner workings of relationships and the challenges that couples face in maintaining connection and intimacy. Through Perel’s expert guidance and compassionate approach, Where Should We Begin offers hope and inspiration for anyone struggling with relationship issues.
How sex-positive media reduces the stigma & boosts positive attitudes surrounding sex and sex work
When sex and sex work are portrayed positively, audiences can see that many taboo experiences are normal. This awareness dispels any outdated attitudes and opens conversations about intimate topics.
Sex-positive media also works to normalise different sexual identities and experiences. Instead of showing one relationship format, sex-positive media enlightens the audience with the beauty of diverse experiences.
Overall, sex-positive media challenges old misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding sex work and sex in general. The media aims to offer more accurate and often nuanced representations, helping viewers question and break down their preconceived notions about sex. This creates a more accepting and open culture for sex workers and sexual discussions. Sex-positive content aims to be as supportive as possible for everyone.
Common misconceptions about sex work that sex-positive media acts against
Unfortunately, there are some common myths and misconceptions repeated by sex-negative media.
Here are some of the misconceptions you’ll find in general media:
- The narrative that sex work is morally wrong
- The idea that sex work is for straight women only
- That sex workers all live and act the same
- That sex workers all need to be saved from their jobs
- Sex workers are forced and coerced
- That all sex work is exploitation
So, if you’re watching a film or listening to a podcast that starts repeating these narratives, question why they’re choosing this attitude. It might not be the best content to learn from if it’s not inclusive or supportive. The first step towards standing up for sex workers is putting positive portrayals of them first.
How can you seek out sex-positive media and promote sex-positive creators?
Once you realise sex-positive media exists, there’s no going back. It’s time to explore the wonders sex-positive creators have on offer.
If you want to seek sex-positive content, it’s a good idea to follow sex-positive blogs and influencers. These helpful creators often list the latest sex-positive media and any classics you should read or watch. You can find sex-positive influencers on all big platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Sex-positive media doesn’t have to be sourced online. Many in-person sex-positive events are available from organisations and non-profit groups. These include sexuality and sex work workshops, lectures, and conferences with sexual health educators.
Many online publications also promote sex-positive attitudes, which are excellent sources for reading the latest news and opinion pieces. Kiss & Tell Magazine is a popular resource for sex-positive articles, and you can access it online.
Switching from general media to sex-positive media will ensure you have an inclusive and open mindset about sex and sex workers. Sex-positive media is excellent for educating yourself and your loved ones but also super entertaining. Whether you want a light laugh or a dramatic story, it is the way to go.