Sex Positive Sketchbook

Sex Positive Sketchbook is an illustration project to promote self-healing through parenting my inner kid. In January 2019 I started a new Instagram account, @sexpositivesketchbook, and began publishing all the advice that I wish my 13-year-old self had been given about sex. Each piece has its own original drawing.

While I’m still learning to take all of this advice, it serves as a way to remind myself (and, hopefully, many others) of the important stuff often missing from our sex education: pleasure, consent, boundaries, communication.

Warning: the images below contain (illustrated) nudity. Please don’t keep scrolling if you don’t want this on your screen right now!

Touch doesn't have to lead to sex

Touch doesn’t have to lead to sex. There are so many ways we can share intimacy with another, and they don’t all involve sex. Touch can be such a healing thing to share, from holding hands to cuddling to massage, and recognising a desire for touch with another doesn’t mean it has to become anything else. You can ask for exactly what you want, knowing that the asking doesn’t mean you’re obligated to let it become anything further. Distinguishing between touch and sex in this way allows us to begin to enjoy all the beautiful ways that we can connect with our friends, partners, and lovers, with strong boundaries and deeper intimacy.


You can ask for what you want

You can ask for what you want. We often grow up with so much shame over sex, pleasure, and physical contact, but we’ll never have our wants or needs met unless we can speak them out loud (or are willing to wait for someone who can read our mind). Asking for what we want can feel so vulnerable, because it means that we are allowing our desires to be seen and heard. But allowing all of ourselves to be seen is where we find true intimacy.


It's ok to prioritise sexual compatibility

It’s ok to prioritise sexual compatibility. So often we are taught that a fulfilling sex life with our partner shouldn’t be as important to us as our compatibility in other areas. For many people this works, and love, companionship, and shared values are higher on their list. This doesn’t help those people for whom sex is equally (or maybe more) important as those things, however. Deciding to have relationships that satisfy us sexually, even if it means leaving people who are otherwise an ideal match, is valid. If sex is an important part of your life then you can choose to make it an important part of your relationships too.


You're allowed to use toys even with a partner

You’re allowed to use toys (even with a partner). Shaming partners for enjoying toys while sharing intimacy is shaming their sexual expression, and can be deeply harmful. Toys can absolutely be incorporated into solo or partner sex in healthy, loving, and hot ways. Enjoying them, and even needing them sometimes to get off, doesn’t make you or your partners broken or wrong.


Self pleasuring is important, even if you have a partner

Self-pleasuring is important, even if you have a partner. Self-pleasuring isn’t a replacement or substitute for partner sex; it’s a different expression of our sexuality that still needs to be honoured. It’s a great way to check in with our bodies, and all of our fantasies and desires, in a way that’s different from sharing with a parter – no matter how close we are to them. Needing to keep self-pleasure in your life while you have a partner is nothing to be ashamed or guilty about. And knowing that your partner self-pleasures as well as sharing intimacy with you can be taken as a good sign that they have a healthy relationship with their needs, and aren’t relying on you to fulfill all of them.