Sexceptance: Undressing the stigma

Ben Righetti, Hanna Lalonde, and Nicole Priebe / April 16th, 2020

Sadie Dapper believes that Sex Positivity begins with education.

(Image courtesy of Sadie Dapper)

The Stigma

Stigma, that’s an interesting word, isn’t it? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines stigma as “a mark of shame or discredit”. In mainstream media, you might find tweets, articles, or posts about breaking stigmas, but how often do we discuss the stigmas themselves? 

Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at Seattle’s Center for Sex Positive Culture, says many of these stigmas begin forming at an early age. 

“I think a lot of us were raised in families or within ideas that sex has to be between a man and woman, has to be done a certain way, and for some, with someone who you are committed to either through marriage or through a relationship.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at Seattle’s Center for Sex Positive Culture

She said at the CSPC, they host events like support groups for survivors of sexual abuse, adult safe sex courses, and relationship skills education classes. The centre even hosts private events where members have the option of being intimate with their partner.

Personal Safety

At Dapper’s workplace, there is an emphasis on acceptance. She said their vision is “sexual freedom for everyone.” Dapper noted the importance of personal safety. She explained that the centre’s vision is to become a safe harbour and a welcoming place for exploration.

We are a community centre that is welcoming to people of all sexual orientations. We host a variety of events in our space which include support groups for adult survivors of sexual abuse, adult safer sex and relationship skills education, and private events where members are allowed to be intimate with their partners.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at The Center for Sex Positive Culture

Education

Thomas Smith* is a member of the LGBTQ2+ community and he identifies as a gay man. For years, Smith said he felt intense shame about his sexuality. Smith explained that he felt unsafe in his surroundings. He realized it was only after he surrounded himself with an accepting circle, he began to feel secure. Smith explained that he never felt angry at those who didn’t understand his sexuality, he was only upset at the lack of education. 

Here is Thomas’ story. Thomas is now an advocate for sex positive communities and organizations like the Centre for Sex Positive Culture. He shared his story in the hopes it could resonate with individuals who struggled like he did.

Fetish

In her line of work, Dapper said she’s noticed the blatant stigma surrounding sex and fetish culture. When asked about the term “fetish” she laughed and said, “when you hear the word ‘fetish’ you probably giggle and think of a creepy old guy looking at pictures of feet on the internet… people think of ‘sick’ obsessions.”

Dapper said she tries to avoid that term, primarily because it is often misunderstood. Instead, she redefined the term. 

“It [A fetish] is something unique, an action or a thing, that excites a person sexually and bring them pleasure… there should be nothing wrong with that, as long as the person is not harming themselves or putting anyone else at harm, mentally and physically.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at The Center for Sex Positive Culture

She explained that sex positivity – or Sexceptance – begins at home or in  the classroom. 

“Yes, we all had a brief explanation of sex, or safe sex, in school, but that just scraped the surface. You can’t also put it all on the parents. Some could probably do a great job of explaining it to their children, but I don’t think kids want to talk about that over the dinner table with mom and dad.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at The Center for Sex Positive Culture

Sexceptance

Dapper explained that sex positivity – or Sexceptance – begins at home or in  the classroom. 

“Yes, we all had a brief explanation of sex, or safe sex, in school, but that just scraped the surface. You can’t also put it all on the parents. Some could probably do a great job of explaining it to their children, but I don’t think kids want to talk about that over the dinner table with mom and dad.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at The Center for Sex Positive Culture

In terms of solutions, Dapper offered this. She said she wants to see more available educational platforms that touch on a wide range of topics, including: gender, sexual orientation, how-to’s, and what not to-do’s. She said she wished she could have learned about these topics before becoming sexually active.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Dapper noted that many adolescents use Google or other search engines in order to seek out answers. 

“I’d say majority of kids have to google this stuff themselves. How to kiss, how to know if someone is sexually attracted to me, [or] how to have sex.” Sadie Dapper, Operations Manager at The Center for Sex Positive Culture

She said that while that a lot these questions are learned through exploration, it is important to give adolescents confidence and knowledge.  At the end, Dapper smiles widely and added, “did I mention sex is supposed to be fun?” 

Here is where you can find Sex Positive councillors in the city of Vancouver