Dating Tips for Men* from a Sex Positive, Queer Woman.

Nice to see you here. Please make yourself comfortable. This is going to be a bit rambling, but also sharp; probably a little pointy and niggling in the parts of you that feel self-important or sure. It is probably going to be helpful, but also a bit cringe-worthy during the moments we both know are complete truth-bombs. I hope there is something in here for everyone, even though I am addressing it mostly to men*. I used the word “dating” in the title of this piece and throughout because that is what is universally understood as engaging with another person with a romantic and/or sexual slant or aspiration injected into the interaction. I typically don’t really like the word because I find it to be loaded full of expectations of some sort of escalation of seriousness after a certain amount of time. I am a huge advocate for casual love, and feel that not all romance or sexual relationship need exhibit continuity to be fulfilling, or meaningful, or downright soul-quaking. But, since I have now explained that, I will use the word “dating” to describe that engagement or interaction of a romantic and/or sexual nature.

I have an actual laundry list of things that have happened in my life that I have learned from when it comes to dating. I am going to offer up some of these understandings, as a gift, so the world can be full of happier, healthier, sexually and emotionally sated people. I have a lot of theories about emotional and sexual depravity and the impact it has on our capitalistic, very comfortable North American existence. Suffice it to say that I think if a lot more people were sexually and emotionally fulfilled and free, they might not be such assholes to one another.

I will start by telling you a little about myself as your “consultant”.

I am in my mid-thirties. I identify as queer, bisexual/pansexual, cis female/femme, sex positive and non-monogamous. I am coming at this as a person who is literally down to hang out with, and maybe consensually try to sex at, any human anywhere on the gender spectrum, just because it might be fun, provided they meet some (of what I consider to be) light requirements. I am in several relationships of varying length and seriousness, all over the romantic/sexual/neither spectrum. My friendships and my romantic partnerships have equal significance potential for me. I think and talk about this a lot, to the chagrin (I suspect) of some people; I identify as something of a love nerd. I think about my politics and how I inject them into my interpersonal relationships. I am not a dating/relationship expert; this is an opinion piece. Expert status is for people who have done their homework; I have done some homework, but not all of it.

Homework is lifelong.

I’m white; I have a lot of privilege because of this despite being female and queer. I try to think about that and be inclusive, and am actively attempting to learn how to be better every single day.

Now, a little bit of information about you (or what I assume about anyone reading this).

You are most likely here and reading because you saw the title of the essay and thought to yourself, “you know, I would totally like to date a sex positive queer woman. That seems like a pretty good idea”. Or maybe you were like, “actually, I think a sex positive queer woman would have a thing or two to tell me about what dating people is about, and how to do it without being a jerk”. Further, you might also be reading this out of spite: “what the fuck could a sex positive queer woman possibly have to say that speaks to my already extensive knowledge of people and how to date them. I am, after all, a totally hot commodity so like, I bet I could teach her a thing or two”.

If the latter is you, I’m so sorry to hear of your complete lack of self awareness, or alternatively your closed mind. There are a metric ton of great therapists in this city and probably also in yours.

Go see one.

Seriously, go to a therapist. Get your shit together.

To the rest of you: If you’d be so kind as to actually listen to me. I’m speaking from a place of ample experience attempting to date people just like you, or just not like you and like someone completely different, and everything in between. I have come to some conclusions about what might help you be more “successful”. That being said, I am going to define “successful” in this instance as “not having treated someone like shit, or been a shithead to someone”. This can also be defined as leaving people better off than when you found them.

I don’t support anyone being a shithead, or taking away from people for personal gain. To quote a dear friend in a particularly thorough outline of how to love more than one person at a time, “Don’t treat people like things”.

I am going to write this in reference to the phases a typical dating scenario goes, and what I think about it.

To start, we meet.

Oh hey; we’ve now met and you’ve established that you think I’m attractive. Thank you, I appreciate that, but not in the ways that you might think.

This first contact is not the be all, end all to your interaction with me. Stop with the “first impressions mean everything” trope. It’s old, and I am not an idiot. I know you’re a dynamic, multifaceted person that cannot be summed up in the first 5 minutes. In fact, I suspect that whatever I am first impressed with about you is more about me and my interpretations of people than about you. So, let this go and do not worry. I hope you’ll be able to do the same. Any assumptions you’ve made about me based on what you have seen in the first five minutes are probably more about you than they are about me.

Once mutual attraction has been realized, usually through clearly confirming with your words (use your words; they’re magical tools when used clearly), we can talk about what sort of interaction is mutually desired, or what we want to do together.

This is actually where things can crossroad to positive or negative. This is the turning point.

Right here.

Telling me that you think I’m hot/cute/pretty/whatever way you want to compliment my physicality isn’t going to help you out of the gate. In fact, any kind of basic flattery is going to provoke me to think that that is what you think is important about me, which is not what I think at all. I am also a dynamic, multifaceted person that cannot be summed up based on my physical presentation. Further, I have medium self-esteem issues, which I think is pretty common but not talked about enough as a systemic problem with the ways that femme-presenting women are viewed. Your compliments are going to fall a bit flat and I will, in some weird way, think you’re lying in the back of my mind.

This will put me on guard.

It gives me the impression that you want something from me, and don’t know how to ask for it, so you’re going to try to get me to like you by flattering me. Stop trying to manipulate the outcome of our interactions and just interact with me. Be yourself.

Oh my goodness, just please be yourself.

It’s 2017. Women are woke, and we see you. We see your attempts to cloud our perception. We see right through any sort of mask you are wearing. We hear our inner voices, and they’re telling us you’re putting it on. If I think you’re being at all disingenuous, we’re not going to get anywhere. Guardedness does not foster trust the way that vulnerability and authenticity does. We have learned through years of our own experiences, and those of our mothers, those of our grandmothers. Their experiences are imbedded in our genes, much like our own will be imbedded in those of our daughters. The voice in our gut telling us something isn’t safe is bang on every time.

Every. Fucking. Time.

We’re not talking ourselves out of our intuition anymore. That time has past.

I feel, sometimes, the impulse to apologize for that passing, but I will not. I am grateful for it. I’m glad that I get to be a part of a revolution in which women are using the tools we’ve been socialized to have for our own greater good, our own personal wellbeing. The benefit to us is hugely redeeming in light of what has been historically true: we needed these skills to mitigate the harm done to us. We needed to do this in covert, in shadows, subtly. We used to be emotional ninjas; now we are loud. We respond quickly to our own alarm systems.

We are battle-crying warriors.

I will not be sorry for my strength and learning how to wield it.

Now, since this is likely to happen, I’ll outline what is to be expected if I decide that this thing we’re doing together isn’t working for me.

The inevitability factor isn’t because I don’t think you’re a perfectly lovely person, or something, but more because the end of a relationship is certain unless we stay connected until one or both of us dies, and that just simply isn’t that likely. The other thing that is relatively unlikely is your coming to the conclusion that you’re not interested in seeing me anymore and doing something about it directly before I do.

I mean, if I had data to support this as more likely, I’d reflect that here.

But I don’t. You’ll probably ghost if anything, and I don’t judge you for that. It’s fine.

Because I might even ghost too, if I’m too tired to do anything else.

If you think the reason i am not continuing to be interested in seeing you is because of the thing I told you about, you’re right. I probably said something a while ago, maybe even twice, and didn’t get a response or attention paid to the thing that gave me reassurance that you care about my wellbeing within your treatment of me. So the thing that changed my mind and caused me to withdraw could have been tiny, but only because that was the straw. The rest of the things were subtle, ongoing, and didn’t seem worth mentioning until there were too many and i was done. Sometimes straws are a lack of gratitude, or not asking me a thing that shows interest in my lived experience, or some offhand comment like “i wish those women had come forward sooner” that shows me something about you, and your lack of thought process about people’s experiences besides your own lived one, and especially your perspective on those with less privilege than yours.

That is a sticking point for me.

The privilege one.

Because herein lies the final thing for this particular document.

You probably don’t see me.

You probably see someone who is nice (they say), conventionally attractive (I’m told), and have no actual idea who I am because you haven’t asked.

Ask. Be willing to learn about me. Look at me, witness, integrate what you see and understand, ask more questions, be willing to rewrite your narratives.

See me. I am dynamic. I change.

Keep up.

This, alongside some basic self-maintenance: having seen the inside of a counsellor’s office because you care about your mental health.

I need you to be thinking about what you say, why you’re about to say it, before you say it. Self-awareness is hot.

Being curious and open to learn, is all I actually need. I will probably never want to stop knowing you, or talking to you, if you can meet me with these few requirements.

The sexiest thing is a sense of responsibility for yourself in an encounter with me.

That is total panty-remover, as it were, if a sexual situation is mutually sought. Love potion, if the romantic is our reciprocal cup of tea.

Flowers are boring and probably unethically sourced, anyway.

*When I use the term “men” in this context, I am referring to people socialized as men, and are still wading through the weight and complications of what that means.

An Open Letter to My Next New Sex Partner.

Dearest Future Lover,

I do not know if we have met yet. You could be a total stranger. Maybe I walked by you in the street a couple of times before eventually smiling and stopping to chat briefly. Maybe I met you on the internet, using some sort of dating website, and have read your whole profile and combed through all the questions you answered to glean some sense of you who you are. Maybe you paid for my coffee because you were in line before me and wanted to do something little to get my attention. Maybe you were listening to something I recognized because your headphones were cranked up so loud I could hear it while sitting next to you on public transit, so I asked you what else you like to listen to. Maybe we both got stuck at an intersection with our bikes as traffic got redirected, and started talking. Maybe you are completely unknown to me currently.

You could be a friend. We perhaps have known each other for some time and there’s always been a bit of flirting or sexual tension between us, but we think our friendship is more important than attempting to be sexual, so we waited a while, joking around sometimes about how funny it would be if we hooked up, all the while each of us wondering what the other look like naked. Or maybe it is more deliberate than that, and when we became friends it was because we made out once and it was okay but we decided not to pursue it for some reason, until we did. You could be someone I have already been spending some time with in that sort of way that suggests that one day, we might kiss or something. You could be a person who is in my social network, and that I know will simply enjoys casual sex, as I do, so after a while of circling each other a bit socially, we decide to give it a shot. You could be a close friend to me, historically platonic, but then something shifts.

You could be working right now, in which case you should probably read this later, because it may distract you. You could be at the park with your dog. You could be playing video games, curled up on your couch in pyjamas. You could be at the airport eating a sandwich while waiting on your flight that has been delayed. You could be just getting to the good part in a book that has been dragging for a little while, but you must finish it because books are supposed to be read completely. You could be sitting at a coffee shop listening to a podcast over an espresso. You could be driving.

Please don’t read this while driving.

Your gender is not certain. Your physical appearance is a mystery. Your intent is not yet known. That being said, I would like to tell you a few things, and ask for some as well. I hope you are okay with hearing this, and that it is welcome information. The ease with which you read this may be indicative of whether we are well suited for each other. Or maybe it will be extremely hard to read, but that doesn’t bother you because you like challenges and doing the hard things, like I do. If it doesn’t make me a bit uncomfortable, or teach me a little lesson about myself or the world or you, or spark some reflection or some introspection, it won’t have my attention for long, if history is to tell us anything.

If you are reading this, we have decided to do some sort of sex thing with each other.

Sex is so subjective. I see it as any act that the individual considers sexual. Yes, I know: it’s a really broad definition. That is intentional. Sex can be a solo act, or an act with another person, or multiple other people, if it’s been consented to.

Consent is a big deal.

Trying to sex at another person without their consent is, categorically, rape.

Every single time.

Which brings me to my first request of you, new lover. I know this is probably implied, but I can’t help but put it to words anyway, for clarity and so later, if there is a misunderstanding, we can start with this as a basic Hard Rule.

Do not rape me.

If we can manage to get through this and the rest of our sexual interactions without a rape occurrence, I’m sure we will be able to sort out any other misunderstandings or miscommunications. I know it seems a bit excessively overt to put in such stark terms. Forgive me for starting at the very bottom and placing solid, blatant foundations of this metaphorical house I would like to build with you. This piece of the structure has been overlooked too many times for me to skip it, assuming we both know. If we are not so explicit, the chances of violations occurring grow.

It is not personal.

Which brings me to my next request.

Please, if you can try not to take this personally. Sexual interaction is very personal; that is not being overlooked here. By personally, I mean that if I’m being a way, remember that it’s not about you necessarily.

The curve is getting steeper, I know.

I have been having sex with people for years. There have been a lot of good moments and a lot of bad ones. Many moments of fear, and some joyful ones as well. I have felt embarrassed, appreciated, bored, inspired, depressed, ecstatic, disappointed, satisfied, anxious, relieved, grief, elation, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, empty, full, restrained, autonomous, and every other high or low. I have laughed until my abs hurt and there are tears in the corners of my eyes. I have cried a lot. I have laid there, dissociated, wishing it was over, and also wanted it to go on forever. All these things occurred before I met you, and before I started to think about sex with you. I assure you, the things that have happened to me and how I am now because of those experiences combined with who I am as a person and my character are why I am behaving the way that I do. The ways I respond to you and your desires or the thing you’re into have nothing to do with you as a person, or your character. I showed up with like, thirty-four years of baggage to this sexual exploration party, and I am asking you to rummage through the suitcases with me. I’ll show you mine; I hope you will show me yours?

Which brings me to my subsequent ask.

This is a big one.

It is big for me personally, and it is huge for most people who are socialized as women. We are sometimes, a lot of times, fed lines about how whatever we need emotionally and communicatively is too much, unreasonable, overbearing, or high maintenance practically as soon as we can understand language. We hesitate to “burden” people with our processes because oftentimes, we are met with an eye roll, a glazed look or a dismissive gesture. I have experienced this so many times, named it, and now recognize it starting so sharply that I recoil. If I am going to engage the person once I’ve seen it, there takes a very special combination of rest, a good mood, maybe a full stomach, hydration, and perhaps also the right time of the month for me to feel compelled to confront in the moment of occurrence. That is to say, the stars have to align and I have to be up for the task, because if every there was a thing I am activated by, it is this.

I usually don’t.

I retreat. I withdraw into myself and quietly ghost away from the person’s rejection, sometimes so smoothly that no one notices my exit. I retreat from conversations, from parties, from emotional space, from the lives of some, even, if it is extreme.

So, this big ask really has to do with my emotional wellbeing alongside my sanity; my continued presence is hinging upon your accordance.

Do not gaslight me.

We are probably going to miscommunicate. That is totally okay, and I encourage you to ask me questions about what I meant. That way, we can talk about it and figure out what we both want, and how those wants overlap and can be met. Ask me about what I’m thinking and feeling, please. I will try my best to also ask lots of questions to make sure that the things I perceive line up as close as possible with the things you intend. That being said, sometimes we’re going to read a thing completely differently. We may even not be able to agree on what happened.

That’s okay.

No, really.

I’m begging you, please, allow me to have my experience that is different from yours. Both of our experiences can coexist. No one has to be wrong. We can accept that one person saw the thing a way, and the other one saw the thing another way, and we can talk our way past that, and learn more about each other in the process.

It will build rapport and trust.

It will be amazing.

We will both open to each other and be able to see each other’s imperfect perfectness; the cracks in the pavement we have been padding along, barefoot, and stepping carefully around. The curled edges of our story book pages that are fingerprinted and torn a little from thumbing too quickly to get to the next chapter. The pieces of ourselves that we have haphazardly glued back together after smashing; a beautiful, uniquely shaped and coloured glass that slipped out of our hands as we were making an attempt at washing it; so slippery, but really we just didn’t have a good grip on it.

I have smashed so much of myself to pieces and glued me back together.

I want to be gentle with the parts of me that are still drying after some ongoing repairs. I hope to be kind if you have some pieces that are still waiting to set, too.

I hope we can reciprocate that.

Thank you for your consideration.

Relationship Anarchy Discussion: July Edition

Kale of Relationship Anarchy and I have been hosting a discussion group in Vancouver in conjunction with some Facebook group-based community (Relationship AnarchyRelationship Anarchy Vancouver). Our third discussion was riveting again. Here are the general notes on what was covered.

What does equality in relationships mean?

~ what do people mean when they ask “is everything equal”?
~ people deserve base-line respect, but responsibility to the care of that individual is subjective
~ value of agency vs. maintenance of the current state
~ why isn’t someone asserting their boundaries a positive thing when it involves a “no”?

We don’t ask these sorts of questions about non-romantic relationships, do we?

~ what do we discuss with any connection outside of romantic and sexual?
~ “how do you like to do ‘relationships’”?
~ does this mean we just fish in the pool of our immediate vicinity because it is less emotional labour?
~ giving things breathing room to see how they develop
~ basing interactions on consent
~ neighbourhood watch for grown-ups: small communities make for expectations of accountability
~ rejecting normativity is a thing we’re allowed to do, as is rejecting community.
~ it’s a privilege to be able to opt in or out of community; for some it is life or death

Libertarianism vs Anarchy in Relationships

~ the difference between “we don’t need the government, we’re fine” and “we don’t need the government because we got this. together.”
~ things are hard when you don’t acknowledge your impact on others
~ “you can do what you want and we’ll protect your rights” vs. “your decisions affect everyone, therefore everyone has a say in your decisions”
~ distinctive features: when did the line get crossed from one to the other in situations?
~ the semantics of language are an important component to communication
~ the conflation of democracy with fairness
~ social contracts: do people get to matter if we don’t care about them?

Sexual intimacy with “friends”

~ sex can be like mario kart, sometimes; it’s an activity we do together
~ how to people have friendships with genders they are sexually attracted to?
~ “Queer Platonic Relationship Request Form”
~ wtf does “friend” mean?! the word is losing meaning with the casualness that we use it
~ the “just friends” insult: as if that’s inadequate or not enough
~ establishing meaning when introductions are made
~ how does the “care queue” work, and how much/little do we care about/like people and why isn’t that okay?
~ how do we balance finite time with what we want to do?
~ Dunbar’s Number
~ establishing the differences between people who are the most important and people who we put most of our energy into
~ bookmark friends: someone you can pick up with right where you left off even though varying lengths of time has have passed.
~ distribution of emotional labour

The discussion groups occur once a month on the first Tuesday at the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room.

Religion, Sex Positivity, Politics, and the Media

In mainstream Canadian media accounts, there is a prevalent portrayal of the “Christian Right” holding “sex-negative” attitudes, while other Christian attitudes about sex get little attention, creating the perception of a generalized conservatism around sexual politics by evangelical Christian denominations. Consequently, a broad and diverse range of denominations are being painted with one brush. In mainstream media, we are inundated with dramatic  messages  about what are  considered to be “good stories” by media franchises attempting to sell drama, because drama sells newspapers, or gets ratings and hits.  For example, Canadians listen to the news tell them about protests against reformed sex education in Ontario’s public school systems, which is  opposed by the president of the Canadian Christian College. In online news sources, Stephen Harper is quoted having sent blessings to “Christian Nationalist” rallies who are said to believe in  the ideal of a Christian nation: “non-believers — atheists, non-Christians and even Christian secularists — have no place, and those in violation of biblical law, notably homosexuals and adulterers, would merit severe punishment and the sort of shunning that once characterized a society where suspected witches were burned” (MacDonald. May 7/2010).  The irony in this is that scripture, when interpreted through a more sex-positive lens, could actually be considered tolerant, even permissive in various ways  that this paper will elaborate. I argue that the media’s depiction of certain fundamentalist views is unrepresentative of the range of Christian views of sex, and that it creates an availability bias among the general public in Canada. I argue further that the media’s skewed portrayal is made plausible because of its consistency with historical yet outdated Christian values around sex. I will define the concept of sex-positivity, outline the myth-based elements of shame and perversion built around sexuality that  may impact public perception of modern Christianity. (In this paper,  my focus on sexuality relates to people’s  romantic or intimate behaviours and attitudes, rather than their sexual orientations.) I will also discuss the Christian Right, its presence in Canada, where they stand around sex politics, and note where sex positivity is existent in modern Christian groups within Canada. Finally, I will acknowledge the relation our current Canadian Government has to these arguments.

Sex and religion 

Sex positivity is a relatively contemporary term, and one not often associated with tradition or religion .  It  signifies the freedom to choose one’s sexuality and an acceptance of  others’ sexual choices, without judgement. “A sex-positive approach means being open, communicative, and accepting of individuals’ differences related to sexuality and sexual behaviour” (Williams, Prior, Wegner, 273). There have been several sexual revolutions over the course of known human history that have helped shape the way we, as a modern society, perceive sex.  When we take the time to think about the ways our personal narratives around sex affect our treatment of it in our lives, we must acknowledge cultural influence on those narratives. Religious belief systems and background are a large part of what lies beneath social scripts, and cannot be left out of the conversation when talking about where sexual politics come from. “Since the dawn of history every civilization had prescribed severe laws against at least some kinds of sexual immorality” (Dabhoiwala. 5). The use of the word “immorality” in this statement is the crux of where things slant in a negative direction. Sexual freedom, or permissiveness of a sexual nature, is associated with acting decidedly immoral as far back as history records. There are countless biblical references to innocence marked by “virginity”, and promiscuity being shamed, despite countless more incidents of sexual activity outside of marriage, which calls into question the  biblical value on monogamy.

A heavy emphasis on monogamy is a common thread through most modern Catholic and Protestant denominational beliefs. It is, therefore, of interest that in early parts of the Old Testament, instances of sexual permissiveness and non-monogamy are common. Despite Abraham’s marriage to Sarah, he has a son with Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, because he and Sarah assumed she was unable to conceive. Jacob, meanwhile, married Leah, and later Rachel,  and had children with Rachel’s maidservant, Bilah, since Rachel could not conceive. These instances all seem to be in the name of reproduction, and none of them seem to be handled well emotionally by the parties involved, but they are still considered to be appropriate, within the context of the scripture. This also seems to be the case of Solomon,  who had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Problematic to current feminist reason, there is high value placed on a woman’s virginity throughout the Old Testament, and it is considered the property of her father until sold for a price, literally or figuratively, to her future husband. As modern feminism indicates that virginity is a social construct, and not a natural fact despite it’s social significance, the value placed on “virginity” is problematic for sex-positive thinking. There is little criticism that could be considered productive on this front, however, since within the Bible, “laws of sexuality and the categorizing of perversions (has) remained immune to any amendment for more than three thousand years” (Westheimer and  Mark. 52-53).

In the creation myth of Genesis, there are two instances of God creating humanity. The first indicates more equality, stating “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (New International Version. 1.27). The second version is depicting woman being created out of man: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man” (2.23). These passages are referred to time and time again as evidence of scripture that gave birth to patriarchal concepts that keep women in the shadows of men, and strip them of their rights to express themselves as free and equals, sexually and otherwise. The contrary could also be interpreted, as Reverend Debra W. Haffner states in her article on sexuality and scripture. The first instance of human creation states, “Be fruitful and increase in number” (1.28), suggesting permissiveness around sexual activity. The second version also seems to affirm, saying “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (2.24). Reverend Haffner  explains, “Side by side, the two different creation stories emphasize the equality of men and women, recognize that we need companions and helpers in life, affirm sexuality as both procreative and recreative, and underscore that God is pleased to offer humans this gift” (8). This is important because the roots of sex positive culture lies within equality for every person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  Many Christian fundamentalists, however, reject such a reading, and  they have been the most successful Christian voices to attract the attention of the media.

Sex and religion in Canada

The concept of the Christian Right is one that is relatively new to Canada, even if the foundation of the terms’ roots is not. The definition of the term, in accordance with its American roots, suggest it to be “first used in the late 1970s to describe the surge in political activity among Protestant fundamentalists and evangelicals. Its usage has since been flexible, sometimes referring to the broad community of religious conservatives and other times referring to a small subset of institutionalized organizations pursuing cultural and economic conservatism” (Moen). Its presence in Canada seems to have come along with our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and his emulation of a Republican approach to politics in the United States. That being said, Malloy argues that incorporating religion into politics is not how Canadians behave themselves, and the Canadian Christian Right pales in comparison to its American counterpart, having a long way to go to garner the kind of influence over political climate that exists in the U.S.  When The National Post is quoting Charles McVety comparing teaching small children about consent to teaching them how to engage in sexual activity, suggesting allowance of statutory rape, a picture is painted of an institution holding a set of beliefs around what are acceptable conversations to be having in a public educational setting. In the realm of sexual politics, a conservatism exists around issues such as consent, sexual orientation, sex outside of wedlock, and how sexuality plays a role in our lives. These conservatisms are not conducive with an increasingly unprejudiced Canada, as they are largely an inaccurate portrayal of Christian value systems. They monger fear to people who do not know any better, and they silence those who do know better about their religious beliefs, because they  do not want to expose themselves to the judgments of a progressive perspective. In a nation with a growing percentage of non-religious people, it is becoming  less safe for those with Christianity-based belief systems to be transparent about them, and that goes directly against Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.  Thus, Christian denominations who are much more sex positive  are not compelled to argue their views. Since the topic of sex is already one that is hesitantly discussed, inertia has room to take hold here.

Many Christian denominations have become more sex positive; they have supported  women’s equality and same-sex marriage, which is being legalized all over the Americas as countries drop like dominos for the current climate of acceptance. Women are being ordained as ministers within many denominations. While the Roman Catholic church still holds tight to  conventional institutional practices, the current Pope Francis has been making strides toward a more forward thinking stance on things like climate change and issues of class inequality, which is more than could have been said for any previous pope. That being said, the Roman Catholic Church still sits firmly on the right end of a spectrum reflecting views on women’s rights and sexuality, referred to by Hunt as “traditional Catholic teachings in which sexuality refers only to heterosexuality, usually married, and procreative” (159).

The top three religious orientations in Canada, according to 2001 Census, are Roman Catholic at 45.8%, No Religion at 17.2% and United Church at 10.2%. “The United Church is (therefore) considered the second largest denomination in Canada. It is a union between the Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians” (Edmonston and Fong. 331). The United Church of Canada is considered “the largest and most widespread Protestant denomination in the country” (Scott, 128). and follows a Protestant line of thinking, in that “because our purpose is affirmative we have as far as possible adopted rather the language of Scripture, a language which matches the supreme facts it tells of, God’s acts of judgment and of mercy… So we acknowledge in Holy Scripture the true witness to God’s Word and the sure guide to Christian faith and conduct” (United Church of Canada. 1940). The United Church’s thinking was built upon a Protestant idea, one with attention paid to the scripture as what was to be looked at for guidance and direction. While the United Church of Canada is considered “progressive” use of that descriptor is a long forward stride from the roots of where their ideologies began. In the 16th century, at the peak of the Protestant Reformation, there was heavy criticism of the Catholic Church and their short-comings in the policing the sexual exploits of their congregation, and especially within their priesthood. Ideals for reformers such as Luther were that  “God’s many pronouncements against whoredom were to be taken even more seriously; all sex outside marriage should be severely punished” (Dabhoiwala. 12). With beginnings such as this,  we can observe the origins of Protestantism’s sex-negativity. Simplification of their daily life, church, and family practices “gave rise to the cliche that protestants feel awkward if they are having too much fun” (Scott. 85). Weber argues, when speaking of Puritan Protestantism, “wealth is thus bad ethically only in so far as it is a temptation to idleness and sinful enjoyment of life,  and its acquisition is bad only when it is with the purpose of later living merrily and without care” (163). Today, however, “The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender, orientation, or physical ability” (United Church of Canada. 2006), suggesting nothing short of radical inclusivity.


When the diverse range of religious  perspectives found among Canadian Evangelicals is  characterized narrowly according to an unrepresentative subset, only certain Canadian values are  made visible. Canadians often pride themselves on their multiculturalism, diversity,  and peaceful reconciliation of differences. The last decade has been particularly interesting when it comes to religion’s presence in politics, as Prime Minister Harper has not only taken an approach to politics reminiscent of Republicans in the U.S.;  he has also dismantled numerous policies that conflict with his particular Christian view of the world. Malloy reminds us that “[Harper’s] government’s cancellation of national daycare, cutbacks to women’s programs, and ham-handed cuts to arts funding can be interpreted either as fiscal or social conservative initiatives” (360), highlighting the Prime Minister’s penchant for cutting social programs. Harper’s tactics have been criticized for their deviation from the principles of Canadian politics by popular media and academic sources alike. As Malloy highlights, many observers of Canadian politics have acknowledged the “mixing [of] religion – especially evangelical Christianity – and politics” — a behaviour which many view as “unCanadian” (352).  Canadian sexual politics have been significantly affected by Harper’s approach. Progressive social groups working on issues of sexuality, sexual health and consent should be aware of and concerned with these political tendencies if they are to preserve the hard-fought advances that have been secured in the domain of sex and sexuality.


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Edmonston, Barry, and Fong, Eric. The Changing Canadian Population. Montréal: McGill- Queen’s UP, 2011. Print.

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Williams, D.J.; Prior, Emily; Wegner, Jenna. “Resolving Social Problems Associated With Sexu ality: Can A ‘Sex-Positive’ Approach Help?.” Social Work 58.3 (2013): 273-276. CINAHL Complete. Web. 11 June 2015.