Why Sex Is Not Spiritual

One of the things that sets my teeth on edge about what an old friend calls San Francisco's “Kinky Konfederacy” — the loose affiliation of queers, kinksters, fetishists, swingers, pornographers, sex workers, and perverts who band together under the ethic of sex positivity — is the idea that sex should somehow be “spiritual.” As moving and powerful and important as sex might be to me, it's not spiritual to me — not in the least. More to the point, I don't think it should be.

At first glance, saying that might sound like I just came out in opposition to fluffy bunnies and lollipops. And that's the problem: “spirituality” is vague enough that it doesn't say anything meaningful but still gives you warm fuzzy feelings inside. It's one of the fluffy bunnies of the English language — and what kind of sick, heartless bastard could be against fluffy bunnies?

Well, me. I think that anything that could be called sex-positive in any meaningful sense needs to be strictly anti-fluffy bunny. I would go even further: I think that the whole point of being sex-positive is to seek out fluffy bunnies in sex and gender, wring their little necks, skin them, and sink our teeth into the meat with relish. The fact that it is so very, very popular in sex-positive communities to put sexuality in the realm of the mystical by defining it as “spiritual” or “sacred” doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy; it gives me a numbing chill because what I really hear is shame. I hear people making excuses for their kinks and their pleasure. That so much talk about sexuality is wrapped in platitudes about spirituality, magic(k), or transcendence shows how deeply we've failed in being able to discuss sexual pleasure as a good thing in itself, without any excuses.

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