John Ince bristles at the suggestion our society is already saturated with images of explicit sexuality.
“It might look like our culture is obsessed with sex, but if you ask any sex therapist or educator, you will discover enormous inhibitions,” he says. “Even most couples have trouble talking about sexuality with each other.
“In our culture, it’s easier to exchange bodily fluids than it is to have an open discussion about sex.”
Ince is the founder and leader of Canada’s first sex-positive political party. The Sex Party plans to run at least two candidates in the May 17 provincial election, and Ince himself will be the candidate for Vancouver-Burrard.
The Sex Party has no policy position on healthcare resources or taxation. It doesn’t have a plan to manage provincial spending. It’s not interested in BC’s infrastructure or the economy.
Ultimately, the Sex Party wants only to promote sexual liberation and an end to laws, codified and conventional, that attempt to define and impose sexual morality among consenting adults.
“We believe Canada needs an advocate of sex-positive culture,” says Ince. “Government decision makers can push sexual innovators, erotic artists and sex activists around with impunity. We’re here to stand up for the rights of people interested in making a happier community.”
The Sex Party says the current education system is inadequate. Children and teens are taught about the possible perils of sex, like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, before they even have a clear picture of what sex is. In most cases they are not taught about the pleasures and diversity of human sexuality at all.
The Sex Party does not believe abstinence is a healthy choice for young people. Ince espouses a sexual education philosophy called sexual gradualism. The idea is that teens are encouraged to engage in sexual activity in a gradual and disciplined way.
Young people would be taught about sexual hygiene, the roles of trust, emotional intimacy, and communication in sexuality. They would be taught to appreciate and learn about their own sexual responsiveness and not to be ashamed of it.
Sexual gradualism would teach young people to explore sexuality through masturbation, mutual experimentation, petting and massage and to gradually work their way up to intercourse.
As well as gradualism, the Sex Party advocates tolerance of sexual diversity. It would support laws prohibiting harassment based on sexual orientation and would require schools to support gay-straight alliances and peer counselling.
“There’s a major omission in the way BC schools [teach] sex education and it’s about the pleasures of sex,” says Ince. “A well-rounded education should explore options rather than emphasizing only harm prevention.”
The Sex Party would also work to repeal sexual morality laws. And it would urge the federal government to repeal the confusing morass of laws regulating sex work.
“We have a very serious situation in this province and in Alberta and Washington,” says Ince. “There are serial killers preying on sex workers and the laws prohibiting sex work are part of the victimization process that leads to the killing of prostitutes.”
The Sex Party would also lift municipal restrictions on the sale of sex toys; make it easier for consenting adults to hold and attend erotic entertainment events; require long-term care facilities to make provisions for their residents’ expressions of sexuality; and establish a sex-positive press council that would expose censorship of sexuality in media.
Ince says censoring sexually explicit material with digitally applied fig leaves reinforces a negative message about sexuality. “What is a child to think,” he asks, “when the six o’clock news shows a defaced image of an otherwise natural and naked human body?”
There are many obstacles to the Sex Party’s success.
Even if it does manage to get a candidate elected, the party would have a very difficult time fulfilling its platform. The laws and regulations it wants to change and repeal span all levels of government and beyond.
Ince says the Sex Party has already faced regulatory opposition to its work.
He says the party applied for a liquor license for an upcoming fundraising event and was denied because there will be erotic performance art there. The event will go forward without the alcohol.
The Sex Party also attempted to send printed material through the mail but was arbitrarily denied service by Canada Post bureaucrats who deemed the material offensive, Ince adds.
Despite the resistance, Ince says his party has already accomplished part of its goal by generating discussion. Ultimately, he hopes other parties will adopt more sex-positive platforms, as well.
“If the mainstream parties adopt the Sex Party platform with respect to sexuality, then maybe we won’t be needed.”